Preds aim to lean less on Weber, Josi

Could the 2015-16 season represent the decline of the workhorse defenseman?

It would be an interesting correction, as Drew Doughty joined Ryan Suter as rare blueliners who flirted with playing half of every game during the regular season.

Both Doughty’s Kings and Suter’s Wild seem to be leaning in a direction of greater parity, and it seems as though the Nashville Predators may do the same … at least as far as the plan goes as training camp begins.

(One imagines coaches fall victim to the strategic version of Mike Tyson’s line “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”)

Here’s what Peter Laviolette told the Tennessean about cutting down the workload for Shea Weber and Roman Josi:

“I do think that we have the support and the depth to try to accomplish that this year, to see if we can’t bring it down a little bit,” Laviolette said. “One of the strengths on our team is defense, the depth of our defense. There’s guys that still probably don’t get the minutes or the situational play that they should, and that’s got to be the challenge of the coaching staff, to make sure that these guys are getting the minutes, that they do get distributed a little bit more …”

Indeed, the Predators are as well-suited as any team to balance ice time.

Both Weber and Josi averaged more than 26 minutes per night in 2014-15. While those reps might not represent the same level of challenge as what Suter regularly faced, it’s still telling that every other blueliner fell below 20 minutes per contest.

Seth Jones is the most obvious candidate to get bigger minutes, yet Ryan Ellis is developing a reputation of his own as a possession darling.

Laviolette admitted that certain scenarios might make it “challenging” to redistribute the wealth of ice time available, but perhaps the team has the personnel to alleviate many of his concerns.

Overall, it’s an interesting trend to follow, especially since these blueliners aren’t exactly in the Zdeno Chara phase of their impressive careers.

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