This is part of Nashville Predators day at PHT…
Here is how good of a job the Nashville Predators have done when it comes to building their defense over the past few years.
In the past year they have traded one of the best defenders in the NHL (Shea Weber) and a player that could have the potential to be one day be one of the best (Seth Jones), and they still might have the best defensive unit in hockey. Almost nobody in the league has that sort of depth at the position, not only to get two players like that at the same time, but to also have the ability to trade them and still make their group — and overall team — better.
Leading the way on defense this season will be the newly acquired P.K. Subban, perhaps the biggest superstar the Predators organization has ever had. With him and Roman Josi at the top of the group, Nashville now has two of the top-three point producing defenseman in the NHL over the past three years (Subban is second, Josi is third), trailing only Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson.
While Subban and Josi offer elite offensive talent on the blue line, Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis were two of the best defensive players in the NHL last season. Of the 124 defensemen that logged at least 1,000 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time in 2015-16, Ekholm and Ellis ranked 7th and 8th in the NHL in terms of allowing the fewest total shot attempts per 60 minutes.
But what stands out about the group even more is that they pretty much all in the prime of their career or just about to enter it. Only one defensemen on the roster right now is over the age of 28 (offseason addition Matt Carle), while Josi, Ekholm and Ellis are all 26 or younger.
And because they gave out long-term contracts to younger players very early on in their careers, they have their top-four (Subban, Josi, Ekholm, Ellis) all signed together for the next three seasons (at which point Ellis will be eligible for unrestricted free agency) at a salary cap hit of only $19.2 million. They are already great, have everything a team should want in a defense (mobility, scoring, shut down defensive play) and they are pretty much a bargain against the cap.
Is there a better defensive unit anywhere else in the NHL?