David Poile

Predators GM staying patient despite offensive concerns


Nashville hasn’t missed the playoffs in back-to-back campaigns since 2003, but that trend is in danger of ending. The Predators are eight games out of a playoff spot with a 15-14-3 record.

Although they’ve been without goaltender Pekka Rinne for nearly two months, their bigger problem has actually been their offense, which ranks 23rd in the league with an average of 2.31 goals per game.

Nashville Predators GM David Poile views that as a key area of concern, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that significant changes are on the way.

“If we could improve the team by trade, I would be happy to do that. On the flip side of that, there are some guys who have not quite performed to how I think they can perform,” Poile told the Tennessean. “I think we’re exercising patience on that and hope and believe that they can help us win some more games.”

Poile’s patience also extends to coach Barry Trotz.

“We’ve been together for 15 years. We’ve been through situations like this,” Poile said.

When it comes to forwards that haven’t lived up to expectations, Viktor Stalberg sticks out. He’s in the first season of a four-year, $12 million contract, but he has just eight points in 26 games.

All the same, Poile suggested that there are a lot of forwards that have underperformed this season. Unless that changes, Nashville will have a very tough time making the playoffs.

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
AP Photo
Leave a comment

Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
AP Photo
Leave a comment

There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.