Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Meet The Central Division: Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators
Head Coach: Barry Trotz (15th season in NSH)
Arena: Bridgestone Arena (Capacity: 17,113)
2012-13 Record: 16-23-9 (last in Central Division)
Record vs MIN in '12-13: 1-0-2
Leading Scorer: Shea Weber-28 points (9 G, 19 A)
Leading Goaltender: Pekka Rinne-43 G, 15-16-8, 2.43 GAA, .910 SV%

2012-13 Recap: After going all in in 2011-12, Nashville certainly took a huge step back in the shortened 2012-13 season. The Preds became the worst scoring team in the NHL after the loss of Ryan Suter on the blueline (a league worst 111 goals in 48 games).The Preds had little scoring up front, and have really lacked a true goal scorer in the team's brief history. They were not as solid defensively and in goal as they were in previous seasons, and add all that up, and you have a last place finish in the Central division with a #3 overall draft pick.

Offseason Additions-RW Viktor Stalberg, C Matt Cullen, LW/RW Eric Nystrom, LW/RW Matt Hendricks, G Carter Hutton, D Bryan Rodney: The Preds took to the offseason in search of some goal scorers, and well, they get a nice effort for trying. On July 1st, Nashville signed Stalberg, Cullen, and Nystrom to help add some offense, but none are really considered goal scorers. If Cullen can continue playing like he did for Minnesota last year, he can be a nice setup man on the second line for Nashville. Nystrom (another former Wild player), had a couple of good seasons in Dallas on the third line, and looks to play in a similar capacity in the Music City.

Offseason Subtractions-LW Sergei Kostitsyn, RW/LW Brandon Yip, RW/LW Matt Halischuk, D Hal Gill, D T.J. Brennan, RW Bobby Butler, C/W Chris Mueller, D Jonathan Blum: The Preds did not really lose any one of great value this offseason besides Kostitsyn. Hal Gill had been good for the Preds in 2011-12, but he did not have a great year on the blue line and he was let go. Jonathan Blum was a prospect that never panned out for the Preds so he was let go and subsequently signed with Minnesota this summer. 

Top Prospects: With that third overall pick this summer, Nashville took defenseman Seth Jones (who was supposed to be the top pick but fell to Nashville). Jones is a big (6'4") mobile defenseman who has shown great offensive skills in the WHL. He has been tabbed as the heir to Ryan Suter's throne in Nashville, and should make the team out of camp this year. Filip Forsberg was brought over from Washington in the trade that sent Martin Erat to the Caps. He is has the skill set to become a great scoring forward in this league and also has shown he can be a shut down defensive forward as well. Look for him to make the Preds out of camp as well.

Projected Lines:

Colin Wilson-Mike Fisher-Patric Hornqvist
 Viktor Stalberg-David Legwand-Filip Forsberg
Nick Spaling-Matt Cullen-Craig Smith
Eric Nystrom-Paul Guastad-Matt Hendricks

Roman Josi-Shea Weber
Seth Jones-Kevin Kline
Mattias Ekholm-Ryan Ellis

Pekka Rinne
Carter Hutton

(Projected Lines courtesy of

Scouting Report: You certainly can't blame the Preds for not trying in 2012-13. They are a relentless team who never quits working. It leads them to obviously have an aggressive forecheck to create turnovers in the offensive zone and draw penalties. The team looks to have a bounce back year on the defensive side of the game, as they usually boast one of the better defense/goaltending combos in the league. Pekka Rinne is still one of the top goaltenders in this league, so beating him is always a challenge. Offensively, this team still has questions about scoring. They have some good playmakers, but they lack goal scorers (unless they are banking on rookies Forsberg and Jones to score their goals). Its tough to see them going places until someone steps up as a goal scorer on this team.

Check back on Saturday to see where the Predators finish in the division.

Follow Giles on Twitter @gilesferrell

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