Throughout the month of August, PHT will be dedicating a day to all 30 NHL clubs. Today’s team? The Nashville Predators.
The Predators have been one of those curious success stories in the NHL. They’ve staved off, ahem, predatory bids to buy the team and overcome a wide range of issues to come out on top in Nashville.
Last season they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008-09 and wound up being rewarded in the NHL Draft with the fourth overall pick. They wound up getting the guy GM David Poile wanted most in defenseman Seth Jones. Not making it to the postseason turned out to be a blessing in disguise for coach Barry Trotz’s bunch, now they’ll have to take advantage of that and get back to the playoffs in the new Central Division.
It turned out to be a very busy summer in Music City, U.S.A.
After landing Jones in the draft, free agency helped change the look of the team by seeing the Predators get a bit tougher. Out went guys like Jonathon Blum (Minnesota), Matt Halischuk (Winnipeg), Brandon Yip (Phoenix) and in came a group of forwards that will certainly fit into Trotz’s brand of hockey.
Viktor Stalberg, Matt Hendricks, Eric Nystrom, and Matt Cullen jump into the fray and give them a bit more skill (Stalberg and Cullen), toughness (Hendricks), and grit (Nystrom). Hendricks’ addition even gives them a guy who’s great in the shootout. These are solid, but not spectacular additions and should help them improve.
The issue with the Preds, however, is a guy like Cullen could wind up as the first line center. Cullen is a good all-around guy but doesn’t really stack up well with other top guys in the division like Jonathan Toews, Mikko Koivu, or Paul Stastny or Matt Duchene. If the Predators can recommit to their style of hockey and find some goals, they’ll be back in the playoffs.