It’s unfair to judge teams “on paper,” but sometimes those paper rosters/lists can be awfully telling.
Take, for instance, this poll at On The Forecheck that asks the simple question: “Who will be the Nashville Predators leading scorer next season?” Here are a few of the names (and descriptions) from that post.
He led the team in scoring in 2008-9, but ended up on the 4th line last season, receiving minimal playing time. If he earns his way back into Barry Trotz’s good graces, he could re-establish himself as a team leader.
He broke through as a 30-goal man last season, so the big question is whether he trends up or down from there.
Greater opportunity played a big part in his growth as a player in Phoenix, and he should get every chance to produce in Nashville as well.
He’s always in the mix, gets used in key offensive situations, and has seemingly addressed durability concerns by playing all 82 games last season.
If the Nashville power play ever gets rolling, he’d be a major beneficiary.
Year after year, Barry Trotz and the Nashville Predators defy conventional logic by scrapping their way to the playoffs without much star power or cash to bargain with. That being said, while you can make a very sober and sound argument that the team improved last season, Jason Arnott’s departure exposes the fact that this team’s offensive potential fails to “jump off the page.”
Seriously, with all due respect to Shea “Butter” Weber – and believe me, I haven’t exactly done a great job of masking my admiration for that physical force of a defenseman – it’s a bit alarming when a blueliner might end up being your team’s top point producer. It brings back bad memories of when I was a fan of the Pittsburgh Penguins more than the NHL and Dick Tarnstrom – Dick Tarnstrom – ended up being the team’s leading scorer. (If you guessed that the Pens missed the playoffs that season, the University of Obvious will mail you your master’s degree shortly.)
The list also includes flighty forward Martin Erat and young whippersnapper Colin Wilson.
It’s honestly very difficult for me to even wager a guess regarding who might win the Predators scoring title. It would be easier if Steve Sullivan was durable, but despite Dirk Hoag’s positive feedback, Sullivan is basically a poor man’s Marian Gaborik. For that reason, I’m going to make a not-quite-fearless prediction that Patric Hornqvist will emerge as the team’s leading scorer. I say that without the slightest hint of confidence in my guess.
Anyway, feel free to vote in Hoag’s poll and share your thoughts on the Predators offense in the comments. Do they have enough firepower to compete in the Western Conference? Can I really go through the 2010-11 season without making some kind of joke about Barry Trotz’s appearance? Is Shea “Butter” Weber a horrible nickname? Discuss amongst yourselves.