Craig Leipold is gone but has not forgotten.
The original owner of the Nashville Predators has reached out to the franchise in his search for general manager of the Minnesota Wild, the team he currently owns. Leipold asked for, and received permission to interview two members of Nashville’s front office, Paul Fenton and Mike Santos.
“He’s probably been besieged with a lot of guys interested in the job,” Predators’ general manager David Poile said. “It just points out that there’s a lot of talent in this organization.”
Ray Shero left Nashville in May 2006 to become general manager of Pittsburgh Penguins, and in his second season that team reached the Stanley Cup finals — a fact that figures to carry as much weight as Leipold’s personal relationships with Fenton and Santos.
“No question.” Poile said. “It’s all the same in that it says good things about the Nashville Predators.”
Fenton has been with the Predators for 11 seasons, first as director of player personnel and for almost three years as assistant general manager.
Santos was hired in 2006 as director of hockey operations. He has worked on both the franchise and league level in the NHL and the minor leagues.
Sullivan watch: Poile said he has had preliminary discussions with free agent-to-be Steve Sullivan and that the two agreed to explore the possibility of Sullivan’s return to Nashville.
“We said we would meet again, probably in mid-May and try to evaluate exactly what his value is, what the future might be for him here in terms of the type of team we will have and where he will fit into things,” Poile said. “…When you’re dealing with a veteran player and one who has been an important part of your team, you hope that a personal relationship is helpful.”
Poile added that the chances that the sides will reach an agreement decrease after the start of free agency on July 1.
Scouts meetings: The Predators’ amateur scouting staff began its annual pre-draft meetings over the weekend.
The goal of the week is to produce the list that will be used in June for the draft and to make sure that at least one of the scouts visits with every player on the list between now and the draft.
“On Thursday, the list will be largely finished,” Poile said. “There will be little changes in the coming weeks, and it probably won’t be finalized until about 10 minutes before we make our first pick.”