September 14, 2013 by andymisek
The Nashville Predators have always been known as a team with solid defense, but with issues scoring goals. Nashville made a splash during free agency, adding multiple new forwards to their roster, however, none were big goal scorers. With Barry Trotz behind the bench, Nashville will always be in the hunt for a spot in the playoffs. Unfortunately, without any top notch scoring forwards they will always fall short of being a cup contender. This is why Cups & Pucks has Nashville ranked #17 on our NHL Season Countdown
Colorado, Florida and Tampa Bay must have felt badly about Ryan Suter leaving Nashville during the 2012 off season because Seth Jones falling to Nashville’s pick (4th overall) in the 2013 Entry Draft was criminal. The number one ranked US skater will jump into Nashville’s line up and play around 20 minutes per night with Shea Weber. The dynamic duo on Nashville’s blue line is back in a big way.
The Preds were also active during free agency signing Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Matt Hendricks, Eric Nystrom and Carter Hutton. Four of the five signings are forwards as Nashville is looking to revamp their offense after finishing the lowest they have since being inducted into the league. Only problem is that all four were bottom six players on their former teams, and only Stalberg will get a chance in the top six to start the season.
As mentioned before, Nashville was never a team to score many goals and this season won’t be any different. Mike Fisher is their big goal scorer, but he is usually good for 20-25 goals per season. After that, goals are extremely hard to come by. With an extended role, the Preds are hoping that Stalberg will put up 20+ goals next season. He has incredible speed, but his puck handling and decision making are lacking. Other than Stalberg, Nashville will turn to Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson to help contribute to the offense.
The most intriguing part of Nashville’s top six is Filip Forsberg. After acquiring him from Washington last season, the highly touted prospect could be the answer to Nashville’s scoring issues down the line. This will be Forsberg’s first full season in the NHL and he will be slotted in the top six with David Legwand and Viktor Stalberg. Don’t expect Forsberg to tear the league up his first season, but he has the promise to be a good player in the league for many years.
Nashville’s bottom six is decent. Cullen, Hendricks and Nystrom are new faces in the bottom six and will bring a more physical presence to Nashville’s line up. Paul Gaustad is also a physical presence.
Shea Weber is one of the league best and he has a great group of guys developing around him. Seth Jones is going to be an awesome addition playing with Weber. Suter and Weber formed the league’s best defense pairing in the league until late. If Jones could match his pre-draft hype, in a few years he will help build an even stronger duo than Suter could with Weber.
All this talk about Seth Jones and we haven’t even started talking about Roman Josi, Kevin Klein and Ryan Ellis. Josi and Ellis are both young defensemen who have great potential and will help develop an incredible top four defensive pairings once they reach their prime. Until then Kevin Klein is a solid filler as Ellis develops. Nashville’s defense will make it difficult to get to Pekka Rinne.
If you happen to beast Nashville’s defense, you then have to score on Pekka Rinne. His large stature and athletic ability make it difficult for teams to score. This year, Carter Hutton will be backing up Rinne. Nashville had better be crossing their fingers Rinne stays healthy and on top of his game. Hutton has been a career AHL goalie and shouldn’t be an NHL backup.
Same skill level with different faces is the best way to describe Nashville. They added five players during free agency and drafted, arguably, the best player in the 2013 draft. They are a difficult team to play against and goals will be hard to come by for their opponents. Unfortunately, they will have a hard time scoring with a lackluster offense. The Preds will make a run at the playoffs but they are still a bit away from being cup contenders.