They provided updates on injuries, talked about the process for selecting a captain and the opportunities afforded to younger players this season.
Here’s a rundown of some key news and notes from Poile and Laviolette:
Ellis out 4-6 months, Bonino done for preseason
After having surgery to repair a ligament in his knee, defenseman Ryan Ellis will miss the next 4-6 months. He sustained the knee injury in Game Five of the Stanley Cup Final back in June.
“Right now, we feel, and the doctor feels, it’s going to take the full six months for him to recover,” Poile said. “Ryan is not skating yet, but he will be skating in approximately three weeks and the recovery will go from there. We don’t expect him back until the end of the year, maybe right around Christmastime.”
So, if there was any remaining mystery as to why the Predators went out and traded for defenseman Alexei Emelin back in June, it appears to have been solved.
“We had a little bit of heads up, and that’s really one of the reasons why we got Emelin from Las Vegas to add to not only our depth but our quality of our defense,” he said.
In addition, Poile announced that newly-acquired forward Nick Bonino, who has been skating with his new teammates in informal practices, will sit out the preseason due to the surgery he has had on his foot.
No timetable for captain choice
With Mike Fisher’s retirement, Poile and Laviolette have the tall task of selecting a new captain.
However, they don’t seem to be in a big rush to do so.
“We have a lot of faith in our current leadership group that consists of Roman Josi, Pekka Rinne and Ryan Ellis,” Poile said. “But having lost Fisher and also James Neal to expansion, we’re looking to add to that group. Peter and I are going to talk to a number of players throughout training camp and we’re going to more or less interview a lot of guys and form the leadership group from which the assistant captains and captain will come from.”
He also said that there is no timetable on the selection process, and that they may or may not come to a decision by the time the season starts.
“I think there was always that question of whether or not he would come back for another year,” Laviolette said. “Even before he took the captaincy, always thinking of the team first, he said that if it’s just going to be a year, you’re not going offend me if you name somebody else captain. Because he was thinking it could be a year, possibly two, but I think he knew that it was short-term. That’s just typical Mike, putting the team first.”
Opportunities for young studs
On one hand, Ellis and Bonino are key players for the Predators and their absences will be felt.
On the other hand, their absences provide ample opportunities for more young players to earn their stripes in the big league.
In addition, young defensemen like Alexander Carrier may get a chance to see extended playing time in Ellis’ absence, as well as some other familiar faces.
“You could just go right down the ladder, it’s an opportunity for a lot of people, and Alex Carrier is one of the guys that came up and found his way onto our team and was here through the playoffs and at the end of the regular season,” Laviolette said. “He’s been a real steady name that’s been mentioned in the minors, and although we didn’t need to go to him because our back end was relatively healthy, this was a guy that everybody kept saying is ready. He’s going to get looks and opportunities in a lot of games to show what he can do.”
Carrier is by no means a lock to get a roster spot out of camp. There are plenty of younger and older names being thrown around, and it seems that there’s no clear-cut favorite thus far.
“A guy like Tony Bitetto, who left training camp and was really marked as one of our top six defensemen and was dealt a terrible hand with regard to injuries,” he said. “He comes back in camp and he’s looking to make some noise and take a spot. Irwin and Weber are looking to solidify or possibly get more minutes due to the Ellis injury. Girard comes back and Dougherty, all guys’ names that we’ve been waiting to see at camp and I think they’re going to get those opportunities at camp to show what they can do.”
Predators rookie camp rolls on with a three-game series with Tampa Bay Lightning rookies this Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday at the Ford Ice Center.