Tag: Victor Bartley

Nashville Predators v Anaheim Ducks

Poll: Should Nashville trade Shea Weber?


The Nashville Predators’ defense is scary, and not just because of Shea Weber’s howling shot.

Actually, the scary combination of talent and depth at that position makes you wonder if Weber may just be expendable.

This post features two different polls that get at the heart of that question, really. Let’s take a quick moment to ponder the strength Nashville boasts in this category.

Shea Weber: There’s been talk that he might be overrated (especially as far as own-zone coverage goes) for years now, and his possession stats are indeed a little lacking. Speculation of him being shopped cropped up during Nashville’s two-season lull.

Even naysayers would be foolish to doubt the velocity of his shot and his general ferocity, and players like Weber are tough to find.

Roman Josi: More than a few people wonder if Josi is superior to Weber.

It certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s far cheaper, as Josi’s $4 million cap hit is almost half the cost of Weber’s $7.857 million whopper.

Beyond that, he’s five years younger and generated 55 points to Weber’s 45. Even if they’re a wash in their own end, Josi stands as the most obvious reason why Weber could conceivably be expendable.

Seth Jones: Of course, Jones may just be the biggest star of three once everything is said and done.

His offensive production is coming along incrementally, yet promising early two-way numbers bode well for a blue chip who will turn 21 in October.

Ryan Ellis: Ellis won’t make anyone forget about Weber if he departs, yet he’s the best supporting cast member on defense beyond Nashville’s other two blueline stars in Josi and Jones.

Barret Jackman, Mattias Ekholh and Victor Bartley round out the group.

OK, so let’s start with the first of two polls: where do you rank this set of defensemen with Weber in tow:

Your opinion of their group in the first poll will likely hint at where you fall on the juicier question: should the Predators trade one of their all-time biggest stars in Weber?

Preds, Volchenkov have discussed new deal

Arizona Coyotes v Nashville Predators
1 Comment

Sounds as though the door may be open for Anton Volchenkov’s return to Nashville.

Volchenkov’s agent, Jay Grossman, told PHT on Monday he’s had discussions with the Predators about re-signing the pending UFA for a second season in the Music City, but added there’s “nothing further to report.”

Volchenkov, 33, signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Preds last summer after the Devils amnestied the remainder of a six-year, $25.5M pact signed in 2010. The veteran Russian was brought to Nashville as a depth defenseman and filled that role throughout the regular season, appearing in 46 games while registering seven points and averaging 13:11 TOI per.

Volchenkov then appeared in just one postseason game — a series-opening loss to Chicago, in which he played 13:51 in a double-OT affair.

It’ll be interesting to see if Preds GM David Poile opts to return Volchenkov in a similar capacity next season. The team has six defensemen under contract for next season — Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm, Seth Jones and Victor Bartley — and trade deadline pickup Cody Frason won’t be brought back.

Of course, the Preds could opt to promote one of their young d-men from AHL Milwaukee to fill the seventh blueline spot, rather than re-sign Volchenkov.

What’s wrong with Franson in Nashville?

Dallas Stars v Nashville Predators

On Feb. 15, Preds GM David Poile made a big splash ahead of the trade deadline, acquiring a pair of former faces — ex-Nashville forward Mike Santorelli and defenseman Cody Franson — from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

While Santorelli was a nice depth pickup, Franson was the key to the deal. The 27-year-old had six goals and 32 points in 55 games at the time of the trade and was averaging more than 21 TOI per night; upon pulling the trigger, Poile called Franson “a veteran defenseman who could play in all situations,” adding he’d “seamlessly fit into our team.”

The transition has been anything but.

From the Tennessean:

In the past five games, he has been benched twice. Against the Tampa Bay Lightning last Thursday, Franson didn’t take a shift in the third period, receiving a season-low 7:15 of ice time. Saturday, Franson’s last shift ended on Stars forward Colton Sceviour’s goal at 7:28 of the third period, a play in which he failed to clear the puck from in front of the crease.

Franson is averaging nearly six fewer minutes of ice time per game with the Predators than he did with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Here’s the Sceviour goal in question:

Franson’s boxscore for the Dallas game was ugly. His 12:26 TOI was the second-lowest among d-men — only Victor Bartley, who played up front, received less — and Franson was the only Predator to finish with a minus rating (-2).

Digging beyond the traditional boxscore, Franson’s struggles are even more evident. He finished with the worst possession metrics (Corsi and Fenwick) on the team and, for a offensive-minded defenseman, his one shot attempt is startling — though to be fair, Franson’s power-play time has fallen since joining the Preds (Franson got no man advantage time at all versus Dallas, though it could be a chicken-or-egg situation… is he struggling because he’s not getting the power-play time, or is he not getting the power-play time because he’s struggling?)

At the simplest level, one can chalk this up to being a bad fit. Franson had far more opportunities on Toronto’s blueline than he does in Nashville, where the likes of Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Seth Jones are firmly entrenched in the top-four.

It’s also fair to suggest that, despite Poile’s optimism about familiarity, switching teams and conferences mid-season is more difficult a task than originally thought; consider Devante Smith-Pelly in Montreal, who scored his first goal in 18 games on Sunday, nearly a full month after coming over from Western Conference powerhouse Anaheim.

But the Franson situation is a bit more complex. It could be alleged he (and Santorelli, to a certain degree) have actually disrupted team chemistry — the Preds were 38-12-6 at the time of the trade, and just 9-10-4 since. Also, whatever offensive flair Franson had as a Maple Leaf has almost entirely escaped him as a Predator, as his points-per-game average has fallen from 0.47 to 0.14.

The big question moving ahead, of course, is if Franson will be dropped from the lineup. Nashville dressed seven defensemen on Saturday and had an eighth, Anton Volchenkov, sitting as a healthy scratch, so there are options for head coach Peter Laviolette to tinker with.

There are also questions about Franson’s future as he heads to unrestricted free agency this summer. How big an impact will this slump have on his market value? Could this be the case of a player that, having seen what Toronto’s become, is just a guy that put up really good numbers for a really bad team?

The Preds are off to the postseason, so Franson will have a few more chances to try and turn things around. But given his deployment over the last few weeks, it’ll be interesting to see how big — or, small — an opportunity it’ll be.

Veteran d-man Lee going to Preds camp on PTO

Ottawa Senators v New York Islanders

The Predators are bringing in some experience on the blueline.

Brian Lee, a veteran of over 200 NHL contests, has been invited to Nashville’s training camp on a professional tryout basis, the club announced on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old rearguard — taken ninth overall by Ottawa at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft — spent the majority of his NHL career with the Sens, recording a career-high 13 points during the 2008-09 campaign. He was acquired by Tampa Bay in 2012 but tore his ACL while skating for AHL Syracuse during the ’13 Calder Cup playoffs, and hasn’t played since.

Lee is a relatively well-known commodity in NHL circles. He’s a former Minnesota Mr. Hockey that played on a dynamic University of North Dakota team featuring Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Travis Zajac and Drew Stafford (obviously, a few scouts showed up to watch them play), and could have a shot at cracking a Preds blueline that isn’t bursting with depth.

Right now, the top seven projects to be Shea Weber, Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Victor Bartley, Anton Volchenkov, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis — but the latter is currently embroiled in a contract negotiation and could end up missing training camp.

Of course, in light of the Ellis situation, here are some suggesting Lee might be nothing more than a training camp body.

Poll: Will the Predators make the playoffs?

Goalie Pekka Rinne #35 of the Nashville Predators looks on as he defends the goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the Pepsi Center on March 30, 2013 in Denver, Colorado. The Avalanche defeated the Predators 1-0 in overtime.
(March 29, 2013 - Source: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images North America)

The Nashville Predators were only three points shy of a playoff berth last season, which is pretty impressive when you consider that starting goaltender Pekka Rinne missed most of the campaign due to a hip injury.

The fact that he’s back and had all summer to prepare for his comeback campaign alone makes the Predators a significantly better team. On top of that, they arguably took a significant step forward offensively. Nashville added James Neal, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, and Olli Jokinen over the summer, which will give head coach Peter Laviolette some interesting players to work with as he tries to craft the Predators into a more offensively-minded squad.

Nashville also has one of the best blueliners in the game in Shea Weber and a maturing supporting cast of Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis, Victor Bartley, along with newcomer Anton Volchenkov. That’s not a bad group.

At the same time, Nashville would need to finish with a better record than at least one of the Central Division’s Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Chicago Blackhawks, Minnesota Wild, and Dallas Stars. Considering that all of those teams are looking pretty formidable after strong offseasons, is it really realistic to think that the Predators are ready to surpass at least one of them while simultaneously staying ahead of the Winnipeg Jets?