The Nashville Predators have signed a whopping FIVE European prospects in the last week. Sources have Djurgardens forward Patric Hornqvist to an entry-level three year, two-way contract. Hornqvist posted 6 points (2g-4a) and a +2 in 9 games at the World Championships. He is also one of only a handful of players- including Peter Frosberg, Marcus Naslund, and one of the Sedins(I believe it's Henrik) to score 20 goals in the Elitserien as a junior player. Hornqvist was a seventh-round draft selection.
The Predators have also signed four defensemen- offensive specialist Janne Niskala (19 goals, 49 points and a +25 in 53 games for Färjestads in the Elitserien), youngsters Teemu Laakso (5 points at the WJCs for Finland, and 9 points for HIFK at age 19) and German Alex Sulzer (who has played solid hockey for Dusseldorf in the DEL the past two years, but was reportedly hurt in the playoffs, thus his poor showing at the WCs), and hulking (6'4" 242 lbs.) Slovak Richard Stehlik, a punishing stay-at-home guy.
UPDATE: I found profiles for all of the above players.
Alex Sulzer: http://www.eurohockey.net...w_player.cgi?serial=25418
Richard Stehlik: http://www.eurohockey.net...w_player.cgi?serial=41387
Janne Niskala: http://www.eurohockey.net...w_player.cgi?serial=12395
Teemu Laakso: http://www.eurohockey.net...w_player.cgi?serial=48781
Patric Hörnqvist: http://www.eurohockey.net...w_player.cgi?serial=61852
Including RFAs, that means the team will have 12 defensemen under contract at the start of 07-08, which just re-inforces the fact that Timonen will not return, so much will be expected of Niskala offensively, but it takes pressure off Cody Franson to come in and impact the team right away. Zidlicky may also get traded to make room for Klein(RFA) and maybe even Henry(RFA). Greg Zanon may be re-signed just because of what he does for the penalty kill unit, but he's certainly expendable with the kind of depth this team has. Only question is, will they be willing to block as many shots(a staggering 189) as Zanon did? Only time will tell, but I doubt it.
And with these signings, I wouldn't expect the Predators to go after a big-name defenseman. Or a defenseman at all.
I keep hearing that so-and-so "deserve" to win a Cup based on certain factors such as the fans, the work ethic or even geographical location. The team that wins the Stanley Cup works hard and overcome numerous obstacles to do what no other team in pro hockey was able to do, and people still say that they don't "deserve" to win it!? Just because a team plays in the Bible Belt doesn't mean they don't "deserve" to win the oldest and most coveted trophy in all of professional sports when they do win it- which has happened for the last two years, though it won't happen again this year. And why isn't the same said about the West Coast? If it's just because of Gretzky, then you also have to remember that Gretzky played in St. Louis for a long time and St. Louis is, at least from my perspective, well within the Bible Belt. The way I see it, if you're going to be biased against Southern hockey teams and fans, you also have to be biased against West Coast hockey teams and fans because they play in much warmer weather- it's warm year-round out there, which is not the case in the South, at least not in Tennessee, Carolina, or central Georgia.[url]