The Nashville Predators have signed former New Jersey Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov to a one year deal worth $1 million, per the team’s website. The Devils had used a compliance buyout on the final two years of Volchenkov’s six-year deal, which freed up the bruising blue liner to sign with a defense-first squad like Nashville that’s still desperate for veteran talent.
Volchenkov has primarily been known as a big hitter and shot blocker in his career. Per the team’s article, Volchenkov boasts the second-most blocked shots among all skaters (1,395) and the 10th-most hits among defensemen (1,313) since the 2005-06 season. However, the blue liner has struggled with health issues in the last several years, which have been compounded by deteriorating play. He had the lowest time-on-ice of any New Jersey defenseman last season and has been unable to hack more than 20 minutes/game on the ice since 2009, per Pro Hockey Talk.
The Predators hope that in Volchenkov they’ll have a mentor as much as they will a solid blue liner. With young defensemen like Seth Jones and Ryan Ellis working their way up through the system, it will help to have a player who was a premier shot blocker and hit specialist in his prime.
If Nashville can see improved responsibility in the play of their young defenseman, there won’t be as much demand for an uptick in Volchenkov’s play. At one year and one million dollars, the risk is relatively low for all parties involved.