Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Nashville Predators.
The Nashville Predators built their team around goaltender Pekka Rinne and when he went down with a hip injury, they weren’t able to recover.
That’s the abridged version of what happened anyways. A big part of the problem was the team’s lack of offensive firepower. They entered the 2013-14 campaign with the hope that free agent signing Viktor Stalberg would be able to serve as a top-six forward after having a supporting role with the deep Chicago Blackhawks and 19-year-old Filip Forsberg would enjoy a solid rookie campaign.
Stalberg couldn’t get anything going though and Forsberg needed some time to develop in the minors, which left the Predators with largely the same cast of forwards that tied the Florida Panthers for the worst offensively in the shortened 2013 campaign. Compared to that anemic showing, Nashville’s actually took a step forward offensively in 2013-14, but for the second straight campaign it was defenseman Shea Weber that led the team’s scoring race.
After Nashville failed the make the playoffs, head coach Barry Trotz was fired and thus a new era in the history of the Nashville Predators will begin.
Peter Laviolette was brought on to be the second bench boss in the franchise’s history. The hope is that he can make the Predators an exciting, up-tempo team.
Of course, he needs the tools in place to pull off a more offensive style and to that end the Predators acquired James Neal from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. The hope was that they could compliment him with a top-tier center, but when they were unable to pull off such a signing or trade, the Predators instead decided to gamble by inking Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, and Olli Jokinen.
Ribeiro in particular represents a significant risk given that the Arizona Coyotes bought him out over “behavioral issues,” but Predators GM David Poile insists he did his “due diligence.”
Adding to the Predators’ uncertainty up the middle is the fact that Mike Fisher ruptured his Achilles tendon last month. Even still, there’s at least a chance that Nashville’s bold moves over the summer will pay off.
The Predators still have a handful restricted free agents to deal with, including defenseman Ryan Ellis.