Sometimes, when it comes to injuries, it can be about quality instead of quantity.
If you peak at the Nashville Predators’ list of injuries at Rotoworld, you won’t see a ton of names. They won’t receive much sympathy from Sunday’s opponents, the Anaheim Ducks.
Even so, in placing Kyle Turris on injured reserve on Sunday, the Predators lack some key names, as Turris joins P.K. Subban and Viktor Arvidsson. That’s two of the Predators’ top-six forwards, not to mention arguably their best defenseman.
This unfortunate Turris news does give us a reason to take a look at his 2018-19 season so far.
Through 23 games, the 29-year-old scored five goals (including an OT-winner) and 11 assists for 16 points, making for a .7 points-per-game average, which is slightly ahead of the pace he ended up with during his first campaign with Nashville (Turris had 42 points in 65 contests after being traded from Ottawa).
Turris definitely had a cushy gig, though. Via Hockey Reference, Turris began a whopping 70.7-percent of his shifts in the offensive zone, easily the highest rate of his career. That’s a significant change from his Senators days, when he began just 52-percent of his shifts in the attacking zone. It’s fair to wonder if Peter Laviolette might want to shift some of those opportunities to the dangerous top line during Turris’ absence, and maybe once he returns?
This bad news could have had the silver lining of giving the Predators a chance to take another look at Eeli Tolvanen, a promising prospect who (somewhat surprisingly) decided to stay in North America instead of exercising a clause to go to the KHL. Instead, the Predators called up tiny forward Rocco Grimaldi.
Such injury challenges put the Predators’ lines in a blender. Austin Watson is getting a look on the top line with Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg. Calle Jarnkrok is grabbing Turris’ spot in the middle of Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith (at least when Fiala isn’t being demoted to the bottom-six). Nick Bonino remains an expensive third-line center for Nashville, even with Turris out.
The Predators currently lead the Western Conference with 33 points, tying the Tampa Bay Lightning for the NHL’s second-best record with an identical 16-6-1 mark. Those two teams currently trail the (wait for it …) Buffalo Sabres for the league lead.