Poile: Nashville’s defense will be best we’ve ever had

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The Nashville Predators have featured some pretty strong defensive groups in the past, but even in that context Predators GM David Poile thinks fans should be particularly excited about their current group.

“Our defense will be the best defense we’ve ever had in Nashville,” Poile said, per the Tennessean. “This defense has the potential to be as good as any defense in the National Hockey League.”

That’s saying a lot when you consider that in 2006-07, Nashville was led by blueliners Kimmo Timonen, Shea Weber, Marek Zidlicky, Ryan Suter, and Dan Hamhuis. That was the Predators’ final season with Timonen, but Weber and Suter went on to become arguably the best defensive duo in the league until Suter left Nashville as a free agent.

The Predators ranked 23rd in goals allowed per game in 2013-14, although part of that was due to the Predators’ goaltending situation being complicated by Pekka Rinne’s hip injury.

That’s not to shrug off the defense’s role in Nashville’s shortcomings, but if they continue to develop, then 23-year-old Roman Josi, 23-year-old Ryan Ellis, and 19-year-old Seth Jones have the potential to make up a formidable top-four with Shea Weber. There’s also the chance that Michael Del Zotto will bounce back after a rocky 2013-14 campaign.

All-in-all, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Nashville’s young and talented defense will improve. The bigger question is if the Predators can assemble two respectable scoring lines.