Will the Nashville Predators' Defensive Model Fail Again?

By Michael Martin
Nashville Predators
Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Heading into this year’s 2013 NHL Draft, it was assumed that the Nashville Predators were remodeling with Aleksander Barkov and Filip Forsberg leading a new era of offensive Predators hockey.

However, that all changed when the Florida Panthers reached for Barkov in stunning fashion at second overall. After Seth Jones literally fell into David Poile’s lap, Nashville was propelled into repeating the same defensive-heavy model that the hockey media has labeled as an apparent failure.

Why duplicate if it didn’t win you a Stanley Cup?

That’s the exact mentality I have a problem with. The years of being bottom-five in goals scored while leading the league in goal prevention actually put Nashville Predators hockey on the map.

Barry Trotz somehow managed seven playoff berths in eight seasons despite being led in goals by J.P. Dumont and Sergei Kostitsyn at certain points. Failing southern NHL franchises such as the Phoenix Coyotes and deceased Atlanta Thrashers often referred to Nashville as ‘the model southern franchise’. The vibe from Gary Bettman regarding possible relocation is, “If hockey can work in Nashville, it can work anywhere.”

This all happened while the Predators invested in defense, ignoring their inability to score.

Yet the Ryan SuterShea Weber era has been labeled a failure. The same era of hockey that resurrected the Predators from possible relocation to Hamilton in 2007.

So to officially drop this charade, Suter’s reign over Bridgestone Arena was an undeniable success. Now that Seth Jones is picking up where he left off, can this model go the distance this time and bring a Stanley Cup to Nashville?

Yes it can, and here’s why.

For the first time in franchise history, it appears that the Predators are nearly a cap-spending team. With the signing of four new forwards on the opening day of free agency, Nashville’s payroll is nearing $60 million– easily the highest in franchise history.

In previous successful seasons, Poile has been forced to stop spending once he reached the cap floor, leaving much to be desired on the offensive end. However, we can expect a much more finished product in Nashville with more money invested in the offense.

I’m not suggesting that Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg are world-beaters, but the Predators’ willingness to spend more could be a sign of good things to come. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Poile has a serious trade piece in Ryan Ellis that will seemingly rot away in Milwaukee if not dealt.

At the very least, I’m willing to bet the Preds return to the postseason in 2013-14 with serious potential to avoid a quick exit.

Michael Martin is a Nashville Predators writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @mmartinutk, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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