2014/15 Season Preview – Nashville Predators

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/7/75/Pekka_Rinne_2010.jpg/640px-Pekka_Rinne_2010.jpg

2013/14 Season Record – 10th in Western Conference, 6th in Central Division

W

L OT PTS

GOAL DIFF.

38 32 12 88

-26

2013/14 Season Recap

Last season was pretty dismal for the Predators. After star goalie Pekka Rinne went down with a hip infection, the team sputtered and failed to produce much offense. The team was horribly inconsistent, and was never able to string together solid wins.

By the end of the season, when Rinne returned, the team abandoned their old “dump and chase” style of offense and began to produce a little. But it wasn’t enough, and the team had their faint playoff hopes dashed in the final week of the season.

Projected Roster

LW

C RW

Craig Smith

Mike Ribeiro James Neal
Viktor Stalberg Derek Roy

Olli Jokinen

Filip Forsberg

Calle Jarnkrok

Colin Wilson

Matt Cullen Paul Gaustad

Gabriel Bourque

 

LD

RD
Shea Weber

Roman Josi

Seth Jones

Anton Volchenkov
Mattias Ekholm

Victor Bartley

 

G

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

 

EXTRAS

Eric Nystrom

Rich Clune

Mike Fisher ***OUT FOR FIRST HALF OF SEASON WITH ACHILLES INJURY***

Top Call-Up Options

Forward Colton Sissons
Defense Jonathan Ismael-Diaby
Goal Marek Mazanec

Top Prospects

  1. Brendan Leipsic
  2. Kevin Fiala
  3. Viktor Arvidsson

Key Additions

  • Peter Laviolette (hired as new Head Coach)
  • James Neal (trade with Pittsburgh)
  • Mike Ribeiro (free agency)
  • Derek Roy (free agency)
  • Olli Jokinen (free agency)
  • Anton Volchenkov (free agency)

Key Subtractions:

  • Patric Hornqvist (James Neal trade)
  • Nick Spaling (James Neal trade)
  • Michael Del Zotto (signed with Philadelphia)
  • Simon Moser (signed with SC Bern in Switzerland)

Roster Thoughts:

This roster is much different than the one that started last season. This is somewhat of a fresh start for the franchise. They let go of longtime head coach Barry Trotz in April and brought in Peter Laviolette to be their new bench boss. Laviolette brings a whole new philosophy that should produce more offense.

The Predators brought in some new talent to match that new philosophy, most notably trading for sniper James Neal. After missing out on the big-name free agents, they brought in some risky players in Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy on one-year deals, so if they don’t produce, they’ll be gone. Ribeiro was let go by the Coyotes due to behavioral issues; he says he can put those days behind him.

The other factor is the Mike Fisher injury. He’ll be sidelined until around December with an Achilles injury. Can the Predators make do without him? With a wealth of young talent waiting for their turn on the big stage, in addition to many veterans with plenty to prove, the Predators will be a very inspired team this year.

Key Player:

Pekka Rinne: Without Rinne, the Predators went into a bit of a tailspin last year. Not all of it was due to Rinne’s absence, but the Predators could have made a better push for the playoffs with a healthy Pekka Rinne (maybe they could have even slipped in). This year, Rinne has something to prove. He is one of the best goaltenders in the world. He needs to start playing like it.

If Rinne can stay healthy and play well through the entire season, the Predators will easily contend for the playoffs. If he goes down with another injury, it may be another long season in Nashville. That may also raise questions about his long-term durability and his big long-term contract.

2014/15 Expectations:

The Central Division is the toughest division in the NHL, maybe in all of professional sports. All of the teams (maybe except Winnipeg) will be competing for the playoffs. Unfortunately, not all of them can make it. The Predators will be right there in the race for the postseason. They would likely be in contention for one of the two Western Conference Wild Card spots.

If Rinne stays healthy, Neal keeps up his production, and Ribeiro can get back to his usual form, then the Predators could easily make the playoffs. However, the Predators will most likely just miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second consecutive season.

Follow Cutler on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!

RECENT ARTICLES:

27 comments

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s