The Nashville Predators don’t get much (any?) hype as a Stanley Cup contender, but should they garner some?
Consider GM David Poile’s comment from fan activities on Saturday:
“There are a lot of good teams in the league this year, the good news is we’re one of those teams … this is our year,” Poile said, according to Brooks Bratten of the team website.
That’s not exactly the sort of scorching hot take that will show up on opposing team’s bulletin boards, though it’s something that we might as well examine on this sleepy Saturday.
For the sake of this exercise, let’s weigh the pros for the Preds.
Key Nashville Predators are either entering their prime range or aren’t that far outside of them.
Shea Weber is 30 and Pekka Rinne is 32. Roman Josi is really coming into his own at 25, and Ryan Ellis is quietly carving out his own place at 24. James Neal can still impose his will at 28 and perhaps a breakthrough is coming for Craig Smith (26) and/or Colin Wilson (25).
Contract year motivation
For all of those expecting Filip Forsberg to regress, there’s the alternative: he can earn himself a big raise, even if he’ll become an RFA after next season.
(Assuming, of course, that the Predators don’t sign him to an extension.)
Beyond Forsberg, there’s also Seth Jones, a defenseman who could make a big leap in the last year of his rookie deal.
Alongside those bolder names, wild cards such as Cody Hodgson are aiming to earn their next contracts.
There for the taking?
It’s totally conceivable that, despite this mess of a summer, the Chicago Blackhawks will still be the West’s best. The Los Angeles Kings could bounce back from their own nightmares, too.
Relatively speaking, the West seems a little more approachable, at least at the top. Perhaps.
Look, Nashville has its faults. Most obviously, the Mikes (Ribeiro and Fisher) won’t scare anyone down the middle.
That said, the Predators are formidable in two major areas that people connect to contender status: defense and goaltending. They also have cap space (about $6.24 million, according to General Fanager) that they can throw around to try to add some extra oomph on offense.
It’s unclear if it’s really the Predators’ year, but looking at the situation, it’s reasonable for Poile to claim that it is.
P.S. “bromances” didn’t make the cut.