There’s no secret as to what you’re getting from the Nashville Predators at this point. This is a team built around defense, with a strong blue line and goaltending being something of a trademark of the club, but the offense constantly lacking. The front office made an attempt to rectify that this summer, but have they done enough?
The Preds were among the more active teams on the first day of free agency, signing a host of forwards to the mix, including Viktor Stalberg and Eric Nystrom, along with Matt Cullen and Matt Hendricks. Not all of them will be in an offensive role, but the obvious objective here is to bolster to offensive attack.
Stalberg and Cullen represent the two offensive additions to the roster. Stalberg has some upside, as he’s one of the fastest players in the league, but he doesn’t exactly have the hands to go along with it. He’s proven that he can find the back of the net, though, with a 20-goal season in 2011-12.
Cullen is on the back end of his career, but can still be a valuable offensive piece. He’s a solid setup guy in the offensive end, with 20 of his 27 points in 2013 coming via helpers. He’ll provide veteran experience on the offensive end, as well as a solid guy on the power play.
Nystrom can put a few goals in, but he and Hendricks fit the bill as more of the grinder type, rather than someone who is going to help out much on offense. Meaning that the only significant additions to the Preds, offensively, were Stalberg and Cullen. Does that mean that the Preds have done enough?
Don’t forget, they’ll get Mike Fisher and Colin Wilson back to 100 percent, and it’s hard to imagine Craig Smith having as poor of a year as he had in 2013 again in 2013-14. When it comes down to it, though, it’s hard to imagine a significant improvement in the offensive end for the Predators.
This is still a team built on defense. Their blue line is fantastic and they have one of the elite goaltenders in the league, in Pekka Rinne. Offensive inefficiency and health issues led to their slide in 2013 that resulted in them missing the playoffs. They’ll be healthy heading into the new season, but as for the offense being improved enough for anyone to take them seriously, that still seems unlikely.