Editor’s note: The preseason has come to an end, so here are a few thoughts from feature writer Camryn Martz on what she noticed during the preseason and what she expects out of Nashville for 2017/18.
As a 19 year old, Samuel Girard has proven to the Predators staff that he wants to be a part of the opening night roster. Not only has Girard made a lasting impression on the staff, but Vladislav Kamenev has brought his speed and passing ability to the Predators roster and he also has an opportunity to be a significant part of the team in 2017. They have both made it through three roster cuts so far this preseason. It’s easy to see the hard work Girard and Kamenev put into their game by watching them at Development Camp (Girard) and the rookie games they participated in. I believe that these two young players could make an impact on opening night in Smashville.
After missing almost all of the 2016-2017 season with injuries, Miikka Salomaki had a total of four goals in six preseason games leading up to the start of this season. It is easy to see from his energy that Salomaki is looking to make up for lost time last season and he is ready to play an important role this season. He has the potential to be a 15-20 goal scorer if he canstay healthy and where the staff places him.
During the free agency period the Predators were able to pick up former Pittsburgh Penguins center Nick Bonino. Bonino underwent surgery early in the summer to repair a broken leg that he suffered in the Stanley Cup Final. This caused him to miss the whole preseason. Bonino missed the entirety of the preseason, but participated in all team practices. Many believe him to be the second line center to replace Mike Fisher and possibly be on a line with Kevin Fiala and Scott Hartnell, and before training camp, it was said that he would be ready for the regular season.
Overall, the Predators probably had higher expectations for the preseason, ending with a record of 2-2-2. They showed an ability to come from behind against Columbus and Tampa Bay, but continued to struggle in overtime games as they have done the last several seasons. If they can achieve more success in overtime games in 2017-2018 and they are able to replace scoring lost with James Neal’s selection by Vegas, the Predators should once again be a strong contender to represent the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final.
Now that preseason has come to an end, the Predators regular season will commence in just three short days against the Boston Bruins on October 5th. The Predators will be back home in Smashville on October 10th and history will be made with the raising of the Western Conference Champions banner into the rafters in front of 17,113 Citizens of Smashville.