The Nashville Predators have made secret of what their plan was heading into the summer. They wanted to improve their offense, which has been lackluster, pretty much for the entire history of the franchise. They’re a team built on defense and goaltending, but that doesn’t add up to equal playoff success to this point.
The 2013 season saw the Preds miss the playoffs. They struggled with injury, of course, and some of their young offensive players, such as Craig Smith, took gigantic steps backward. They made a couple of offensive additions in free agency, signing the likes of Viktor Stalberg and Matt Cullen.
The Predators ranked second to last in the league in goals per game last season, with just 2.27 goals per contest. It’s a rough output, and worse than their typical lackluster offensive results. If they want to bounce back offensively, and get back into the postseason, it’s going to start with Mike Fisher.
Fisher has two years remaining on his contract, which carries a $4.2 million cap hit, not a bad price for what he’s capable of bringing to the ice. He didn’t have an opportunity to showcase that this past season, as he missed 10 games and was never able to find his footing, posting just 21 points on the year.
But this is a guy capable of putting up some points, even in this Nashville system. He’s just a year removed from the fifth 20-goal season of his career, as he put up 51 points in 72 games, good for 0.71 points per game. It was a career high in terms of points, and in terms of that scoring rate.
If the Predators are going to get their offense on track and get back into the playoffs, it starts with Fisher. He’s their leader in terms of minutes from the forward position, and logs more time on the power play than any other forward. He’ll have to lead the way next season. If that happens, the Preds will be in much better shape.