Three ways to say that Nashville’s strength is on the blue line:
— Of the 48 NHL defensemen with at least eight points, five of them are on the Nashville Predators.
— Nashville d-men have 52 points combined. The forwards don’t have a ton more: 79.
— It’s not just assists the d-men are racking up. They’ve scored a third (17) of the Predators’ 51 goals.
Convinced? OK, good.
With a limited budget to work with, GM David Poile has already managed to lock up four of his blue-liners. Weber is signed through 2026, Mattias Ekholm through 2022, Josi through 2020, and Ryan Ellis through 2019.
Now, granted, it’s more than fair to question other parts of the Predators’ roster. For example, do they have the top centers (Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher) to win a Stanley Cup? The same question is asked of good teams like the Canadiens and Rangers. It’s a legitimate concern when you consider the quality of the centers that have won the Cup.
But it’s sure a luxury for coach Peter Laviolette to have the blue line he’s got. Nobody has to play too many minutes. Nobody gets worn down. Josi leads the Preds in average ice time, at 24:56. That’s not nothing, but it’s manageable.
In fact, maybe the Preds have stumbled upon a model for small-market franchises that can’t spend to the salary cap. Think about it. There are only six defensemen. There are 12 forwards. Don’t skimp on the blue line, try to find bargains up front. Hey, just a thought.
52 points by six d-men
Roman Josi: 4G, 9A
Shea Weber: 6G, 4A
Seth Jones: 1G, 9A
Ryan Ellis: 2G, 7A
Mattias Ekholm: 3G, 5A
Barret Jackman: 1G, 1A