While Nashville Predators head coach Barry Trotz said that there was a “good chance” that Bobby Butler, Zach Boychuk, and Victor Bartley would get into the team’s lineup in Friday night’s home game against the Edmonton Oilers, the three will likely have a very short audition period in which to showcase their skills to make a case for staying in Predators gold for any length of time.
Forwards Butler and Boychuk were claimed off waivers Monday and Tuesday respectively. Their acquisitions were an attempt to find something to spur a collective forward unit that has yet to gain much traction to date this season.
These waiver wire acquisitions basically fall into the no-risk category for the Predators since both players are on one-year, two-way contracts. Butler makes $525,000 at the NHL level, and $105,000 in the AHL. Boychuk has similar contract terms of $625,000/$105,000.
Should either player not make enough of an impact with the Predators, they can be put back on waivers for another team to claim. Should they clear waivers, Nashville can send them to Milwaukee and be on the hook for very little in terms of salary.
Following Wednesday’s practice, Trotz said that Butler has a reputation as a shooter, and that is something that the coach would like to see continue when he puts on a Nashville uniform.
Butler, claimed from the New Jersey Devils, has scored 17 goals in 108 career NHL games, including 10 in 36 games played for Ottawa in 2010-11.
“I’ve always been a shooter, so I just have to keep doing that and hopefully get the puck to the net,” Butler said.
In his senior year at the University of New Hampshire, Butler had 29 goals in 39 games played.
Boychuk has had a rough go of it so far in 2013. He has been waived and claimed twice already this season. He began this campaign with Carolina before being waived and then claimed by the Pittsburgh Penguins who later waived him, enabling the Predators to acquire the former Hurricanes first round selection.
Trotz wants Boychuk to use his speed and solid skill set when he gets the opportunity. Boychuk has seven goals in 80 career NHL games. After being waived for the second time in just over a month, Boychuk hopes to have found a home with the Predators.
“It was a really exciting day yesterday for me,” he said Wednesday. “I just made the drive down and it is a new opportunity for me. Hopefully I can add something to this team and help us get back on track.”
In talking with Predators general manager David Poile, Boychuk was told that he was being given the chance to join a group of forwards that has underachieved this season.
“David kind of said that he was looking to shake the team up a bit and hopefully I can come in and create some competition and bring my speed and skill and help the team win,” Boychuk said.
Bartley, a defenseman, was recalled Wednesday morning from the Admirals. Should his audition prove that he is not yet ready for prolonged time in the NHL, he can be returned to Milwaukee. Bartley is in the final year of his entry-level contract that pays him $537,500 in the NHL and $67,500 in the AHL.
This week’s moves put the Predators roster at its 23-man capacity. Defenseman Hal Gill and forward Brandon Yip are currently on injured reserve. When they are medically cleared to return, Poile will be forced to clear space for them.
Yip, claimed off of waivers from the Colorado Avalanche last season, is currently sidelined with an upper-body injury. He is making $750,000 this season on a one-way deal.