Nashville Predators: 5 Players to Keep an Eye on During Training Camp

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Nashville Predators: 5 Players to Keep an Eye on During Training Camp

Nashville Predators: 5 Players to Keep an Eye on During Training Camp
Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

After reaching the playoffs for three consecutive seasons, the Nashville Predators headed into the 2013 season with high expectations. The team struggled offensively, and goaltender Pekka Rinne had an up-and-down campaign, while the loss of Ryan Suter on the blue line proved to be a big setback as well. While they didn’t complete any blockbuster deals in the offseason, the Predators did bring in a handful of forwards to try and help jump start an offense that was 29th in the league in goals per game last season.

Matt Hendricks, Eric Nystrom and Matt Cullen are among the veteran additions and youngsters like Taylor Beck and Austin Watson might compete for spots as well. For as much of a setback as last season was, the Predators still have a well-stocked and deep system and will be fine moving forward. Rinne is poised for a bounce-back season and could get help with a more capable backup goalie this season than the one he had in Chris Mason last season.

The Predators would also be well-served to work on improving their special teams play in the coming season, as they were 17th in the league with the man-advantage but second-worst in the league on the penalty kill. An improved defense aided by the addition of Seth Jones should help improve in both of those categories, and if captain Shea Weber can bounce back after a worse than average season this team should once again be playoff bound. Here’s a look at five players to keep an eye on when training camp opens.

Jonathan Katje is an NHL featured columnist for Rant Sports. You can follow him on Twitter or add him to your circles on Google Plus.

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Seth Jones

Seth Jones
Ed Mulholland - USA TODAY Sports

The Predators had to be thrilled to have defenseman Seth Jones fall to them with the fourth overall pick in this summer's draft, and the former WHL standout will have every chance to make the team out of training camp. He's already turning heads at rookie camp, and was one of the top prospects available that was considered NHL-ready. Learning from Shea Weber can only help his development, and if he can contribute offensively as well it will be a huge boost for the team.

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Filip Forsberg

Filip Forsberg
Randy Sartin - USA TODAY Sports

The Predators traded away Martin Erat and prospect Michael Latta to get former Washington Capitals first-rounder Filip Forsberg, and got to see him in action for five games last season. He'll have a chance to stick with the team this season, and is one of a handful of young forwards who will try and help improve the team's offense.

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Carter Hutton

Carter Hutton
Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

Goaltender Carter Hutton has waited a long time for his chance to play in the NHL, and the Predators should be a great fit. Hutton played in one game for the Chicago Blackhawks last season, and could prove to be a capable backup for Pekka Rinne. After all, it would be hard to be worse than Chris Mason (1-7-1, 3.73 GAA) was last season.

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Ryan Ellis

Ryan Ellis
Jason O. Watson - USA TODAY Sports

Defenseman Ryan Ellis experienced a bit of a sophomore slump last season, and was sent down to the AHL after falling out of favor with the coaching staff. He was pegged to be one player to step up after the loss of Ryan Suter, and it will be interesting to see how he bounces back.

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Matt Cullen

Matt Cullen
Jerome Miron - USA TODAY Sports

One of the most noteworthy free agent signings by the Predators was bringing in Matt Cullen on a two-year, $7 million contract. A Predators team that was second-worst in the league in goals per game could use a boost from Cullen, who was a steady point producer for the Minnesota Wild the past three seasons.

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