Friday, September 23, 2011

NHL 30 in 30: Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators, up until a season ago, did not make it out of the first round of the postseason. Last year though, was a different story. They finally were able to crack the second round, and nearly chased Vancouver out of the playoffs. This offseason though, the Preds took some serious hits to their roster this offseason, and now the only coach the Preds have ever known, Barry Trotz, will try to keep the Preds ship steered towards the postseason.

Strengths: The best part of this team is their defensive depth, and they maintain from the possible best top pairing in the NHL in Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, all the way down to the young guys moving their way up such as Ryan Ellis and Jonathon Blum. They have never had trouble with defensive depth, as David Poile always seems to draft well in this area, and this year will be no exception. These guys can check, captain the power play, and set up the scoring plays. Behind them, Pekka Rinne has proven to be one of the league's best goaltenders, and he'll look to keep that up this season. He'll be expected to mask the Preds limited offensive capabilities, and he was able to a season ago, so now the question is can he repeat that performance? While the Predators have limited offensive capabilities, they do have some weapons that can perform highly. Sergei Kostitsyn, the leading scorer from a year ago, comes back with Patric Hornqvist, Mike Fisher, and Blake Geoffrion, who has some goal scoring in his genes, as he's the grandson of the great Bernie "Boom-Boom" Geoffrion.

Weaknesses: They did lose a good deal of veteran depth on the team this offseason. They lost their playoff MVP in Joel Ward, who went to Washington, vets Steve Sullivan and Marcel Goc, who went to Pittsburgh and Florida respectively, and Matthew Lombardi, who never panned out in Nashville due to concussions. These vets will test the depth of the organization, as they transition from the older core to a new younger one with limitless potential, but it has not been fully recognized yet. The scoring depth will be tested once again, as they don't have a true big-time number 1 scorer, but a boatload of secondary scoring. Who will carry the torch for the Preds this season in that area?

Any Help Coming? They have one of the best farm systems in hockey, and that is proven when people take a glance at the prospect list. Aside from Jonathon Blum and Ryan Ellis, there are other good prospects in the organization too. LW Taylor Beck is a power forward who can become an elite scorer someday, and RW Austin Watson is a great two-way forward with some heart and soul to boot. D Roman Josi is a complete prospect, with great talent on the blue line, and with some offensive potential as well.

Outlook: This team has the potential to go deep in the playoffs once again, but the depth of the organization will be tested. There is no doubt that this team can do what they did last year again, but they need to continue to find th scoring threats in order to keep this team heading towards the playoffs.

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