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Vasicek, Arnott give Nashville big presence
Scott Cruickshank, Calgary Herald
Published: Sunday, October 29, 2006


Give Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton credit for drawing up the Nashville Predators' summertime wishlist.

Give the Predators credit for abiding.

After being scalded by San Jose Sharks' centre-ice brutes in the playoffs, the Predators had a dire, and plainly obvious, need -- muscle up the middle.

"We got beat up the middle," said Predators winger Steve Sullivan. "Thornton and Marleau just took advantage of us."

So the Preds traded for six-foot-five Josef Vasicek -- Scott Walker was shipped to Carolina -- and they signed six-foot-four Jason Arnott.

Suddenly, those mustard-coloured uniforms don't look as ridiculous.

"If you were to have looked at the free-agency list come July 1," said Sullivan, "(Arnott) was the No. 1 player up the middle -- a big forward who puts up numbers. He's a big presence and that was our No. 1 need."

With two goals Saturday against the Calgary Flames, Arnott, operating on the top line, has 10 points in 10 games.

"It's been a lot of fun," said Arnott, who also bagged 20 of 27 faceoffs. "It's nice playing with a young bunch. I'm one of the oldest, so it's exciting to come to the rink every day."

Nashville had always been a brisk bunch. But a tad Smurf-like. Seven of the Preds in Saturday's match were five-foot-11 or shorter.

"For us to get Arnott was an exciting day for us as players," said Sullivan, a five-foot-eight, 165-pounder. "He's fit right in. The Predators do a great job of bringing in people that fit in this dressing room. We're having a blast."

Arnott, a 32-year-old native from Collingwood, Ont., wasn't worried about leaving the comforts of Dallas, where, last winter, he'd cobbled together a career year -- 76 points.

Rather, he's embraced being the big man -- five years of $4.5 million US doesn't hurt, either.

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