The Nashville Predators have spent all summer waiting for the ability to get back on the ice. After a demoralizing 5-0 loss in game seven of the Western Conference semi-finals against the San Jose Sharks, the new-look Preds will begin their training camp on Friday, September 23rd. In this season preview, the focus will be on the future of the team, not what happened last season. With Nashville having a new captain in Mike Fisher, losing Shea Weber, adding all-world defenseman P.K. Subban, and having to replace Paul Gaustad (retirement), this team will have a brand new makeup, with a strong presence of youth, and a new identity.
Who needs to impress during training camp?
There is no other player on the Nashville Predators roster that needs to have a better training camp than P.K. Subban. When you replace what most consider the most popular defenseman in the organization’s history, you have some big shoes to fill. Granted, he does not need to be Shea Weber. Subban has a select skill-set that is much different than Weber. The Norris-trophy winning defenseman needs to re-brand himself in Nashville and has already made strides in doing so. He did not have the best season last year in Montreal, and the Loyal Legion will be looking for big things out of the Toronto, Ontario, Canada native. Last season, Subban accounted for 51 total points, only six being goals.
Cody Bass needs to have an impressive camp for the Nashville Predators. He will not put up gaudy offensive numbers, but will be physical and win in the face-off circle. In seventeen games last season for Nashville, the Owen Sound, ON, Canada native did not score a single point. Yet, he was a physical presence and won crucial face-offs during the longest playoff streak in Predators history. He will be challenged by younger players such as Austin Watson and Max Reinhart. Bass needs to be solid during camp or he could be on the outside looking in.
Who can surprise and make the roster after having a good camp?
As a member of the Milwaukee Admirals, over the last two seasons, Pontus Åberg has amassed 41 goals, 33 assists for a total of 74 points. Åberg is a play-maker and a goal-scorer. Nashville will be looking for some of the young talent to make an impression and put up numbers for the Predators. If Åberg can finish, you could see him challenge for possible top-six minutes. He has all of the talent in the world, now it’s time for him to make his way to Nashville.
Who might not make the roster?
During the offseason, GM David Poile made it a priority to sign veteran defensemen to “beef-up” the blue line. Matt Carle was signed after spending the last three seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has played on some of the biggest stages and will bring a veteran presence to a young team. Another off-season signee was Matt Irwin. Irwin has 166 games of experience in the NHL, and with a left-handed shot, brings a toughness and depth needed to this group. With all of that being mentioned, Petter Granberg might not make the roster due to sheer numbers. He is younger and has better size than Carle and Irwin, but they have what he needs: experience. It will be interesting to see who makes the final pairing on the blue line. Editor’s note: Let’s not forget the other Weber that Poile signed as well, defenseman Yannick Weber
With Kevin Fiala, his skills are top-notch. He has the ability to score, distribute, and play the speed game like Peter Laviolette impresses upon his team. Fiala is young and could be the future, but it may not not be his time. He has shown that he can produce, but inconsistently. At times, he plays well in Nashville, and other times he disappears. The St. Gallen, Switzerland native could be on the outside, looking in. Prediction: He starts the season off in Milwaukee, but impresses the organization and spends a good chunk of the season in Nashville.
Predictions for leaders in goals, assists and points:
Goals: Filip Forsberg (Prediction: 40 goals)
Assists: P.K. Subban (Prediction: 52 assists)
Points: Filip Forsberg (Prediction: 73 points)