Greetings my humble or not so humble Predators Fans! My name is Aidan McSharry, and I will be here talking you through what is set to be a short, yet exciting year for your Nashville Predators. Let’s get to the preview..
Defense: Its no big secret that the Predators had a less than profitable offseason, with the majority of that deficit coming on the back end. First of course is the loss of Ryan Suter, easily one of the best defensemen in the league. While his defensive play was often outstanding and his style was able to bolster Shea Weber, allowing him to get more into the offense, what the Preds will miss him most is his ability to eat up ice time. Last season, he was averaging over 20 minutes of ice time a game, and was paired with everyone from Weber to Hal Gill. His loss will test Nashville’s young depth on the blue line.
Look for Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, maybe even Mattias Ekholm to make a big splash this year in Ryan’s absence. Josi is primed to replace Suter this season, and Barry Trotz has said that he is better than Suter was at the same age. Maybe this loss won’t be as bad as we all think? Coach Trotz will definitely have some juggling to do, but essentially, Nashville’s blue line is still one of the best in the League. Pred’s picked up veteran D-man Scott Hannan to replace the likes of The Cube, Francis Bouillon, and Jack Hillen.
Offense: Nashville is no longer the offensively challenged team it has been in the past. Coming off the 2011-2012 season with the 1st ranked powerplay, and the 10th ranked offense is far from offensively challenged. While there were losses on the front end, they will mean little in the long run.
Niclas Bergfors was easily one of the biggest disappointments of the season, followed closely by Alexander Radulov. Sure, Andrei Kostitsyn was great while he lasted, but he’d much rather be “pullin hard” in bars with Radulov than playing professional level hockey with his brother, Sergei Kostitsyn, in Nashville. Between them just nine goals, so nothing huge to worry about. David Legwand, Mike Fisher, Martin Erat, and Patric Hornqvist will again make up the meat of the Pred’s O power, with regular contribution What you are left with are three, very strong lines that could deal a lot of unexpected damage. Last year Hornqvist, leading scorer for the good part of the season, was on the third line. If that doesn’t say depth then I don’t know what does.
Look forward to another high powered offensive year coming from the forwards. One notable loss is of course Jordin Tootoo, a long time fan favorite. What’s worse is he went to the Detroit Red Wings. With all the problems he’s had with that team, who knows what’s gotten into his head.
Goaltending: This shouldn’t be that long considering that Nashville Predators goaltending can be summed up in one name: Pekka Rinne. Don’t worry about his numbers in the KHL. Such a drastic and uncomfortable move is enough to throw any player off his game. Once Pekka is back under the tutelage of Mitch Korn, he will be right as rain. If his recovery is slower than predicted, the Preds re-signed the ole heartthrob Chris Mason. In case you don’t know him, Mase played behind Thomas Vokoun a ways back, and when we need him, he was always there with a stellar performance. I’m happy that Anders Lindback was traded because he is too good to sit behind Pekka and gather dust. Mason knows what he signed on to and is more than willing to fill his niche in the system. While they no longer have the tallest tandem in hockey, they could easily challenge the likes of Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliot with the St. Louis Blues.
Well that’s the preview…pretty long for an abbreviated season. Don’t make the mistake of believing this season will be boring because it’s short, though. Teams will now have to play harder to make the playoffs. Everything will be faster paced and more desperate as teams scramble over one another to get into the playoffs. Buckle up Smashville, and get ready for some hockey!