Predators add rough edge to group of smooth-skating defensemen

When he was with the Nashville Predators, Ryan Suter once explained that a player only has to block a shot if he is out of position. If he is in the right spot, the opposing player should not have room to shoot.

So at first blush the fact that Anton Volchenkov, the Predators’ latest free agent addition, has blocked 1,395 shots since 2005-06 (second among all NHL players during that time) does not necessarily look like a good thing.

Positional hockey clearly is not the 32-year-old’s game, though. That much is evident in the fact that he also has 1,313 hits (10th among all defensemen) over that same span.

His rugged style of play should be a welcome – and much-needed – addition to a unit that is flush with smooth-skating, puck moving players such as Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.

“Anton provides a strong veteran presence that will complement our young, talented defensive corps nicely,” general manager David Poile said in a statement from the team. “He is a physical, left-handed shooting defenseman who can match up with top-line forwards and effectively kill penalties.”

Nashville signed Volchenkov to a one-year, $1 million deal Monday. He had two years and $9 million remaining on a deal with the New Jersey Devils before that team executed a compliance buyout of his contract on June 30.

He never has scored more than four goals in a season and had eight assists without a goal in 56 games for the Devils in 2013-14. However, he averaged 3:43 of shorthanded ice time per game, which was more than any Nashville defenseman.

He was first-round pick (21st overall) by Ottawa in 2000 and a two-time member of Russia’s Olympic team (2006 and 2010).

Nashville becomes his third NHL team.