The Nashville Predators made it to the Stanley Cup Final last season after finishing 8th in the Western Conference. They had the same record (41-24-12) as the New York Islanders.
The Islanders finished 9th in the Eastern Conference and missed the playoffs.
Filip Forsberg – It still boggles my mind how the Predators were able to pry Forsberg loose from Washington about 5 years ago for an aging Martin Erat, and Michael Latta. Who? Exactly. Neither are in the NHL anymore, while Forsberg is still only 23-years-old and looks to be a 30-goal scorer for the foreseeable future.
Ryan Johansen – This is his 8th season in the NHL and he’s only 25-years-old. I see him as someone who can put up 70 points each season. He’s only done it once in his career, though. He needs to shoot the puck more this season.
Viktor Arvidsson – The 24-year-old broke out last season with 61 points after putting up 16 the year prior. Is he capable of a repeat performance? Sure. Though I’d expect him to fall in the 50-point range this season.
This is the Predators’ strength and it has been for many years.
P.K. Subban – He’s an exciting player and an offensive catalyst.
Roman Josi – Josi was named Captain after Mike Fisher retired in the off-season. Like Subban, he will fall between the 40-60 point range. He’s also a tremendous shot blocker.
Mattias Ekholm – He’s good.
Ryan Ellis – He’s injured, but when he comes back he can anchor one of the power-play units.
Notable: Samuel Girard
Pekka Rinne – He’s been good for a long time, it’s just a shame he can’t seem to win when playing on the road in Pittsburgh. That would’ve come in handy in the Finals last season.
Juuse Saros – Saros is only 22, but appears to be the heir apparent to Rinne’s throne. A couple of seasons as a backup should prepare him for an eventual starter’s role.
1. Subban and Josi were both drafted in the 2nd round. Subban in 2007; Josi in 2008. A lot of teams are probably kicking themselves.
2. The Predators have made the playoffs in 10 of their 18 seasons, but have only advanced out of the first round, four times.
3. Mike Fisher retired in the off-season, which can only mean one thing – Carrie Underwood will be attending less home games this season.
4. Tom Fitzgerald was the team’s first Captain back in the 1998-99 season.
WHAT CHRIS THINKS
Nashville is just okay. Most surprising to me is how well they transitioned from a conservative defensive team to an offensive team under Laviolette, which I thought was a recipe for a disaster.
LAST MINUTE OF PLAY
The Predators play in a tough Central Division. Heck, the entire Western Conference is tough. I’d like to think they won’t miss the playoffs this season, just because they made it all the way to the Finals last season.
However, they snuck in the playoffs with the 8th seed last year. That 8th seed will be harder to attain this year. We’ll see how they do.
I’ll say this though – in an offensive league, their defense gives them an advantage. Perhaps they ride it to a playoff spot. And once in the playoffs, anything can happen.
ONE WILD PREDICTION
Filip Forsberg will score 45 goals this season.