Last season: 44-27-11 99pts, 2nd Central, Lost in 2nd Round of Playoffs
Additions: Brodie Dupont, Robert Slaney, Kyle Wilson, Zack Stortini, Tyler Sloan, Jack Hillen, Niclas Bergfors
Losses: Tyler Stefishen, Dan Gendur, Mark Santorelli, JP Dumont, Shane O’Brien, Steve Begin, Wade Belak, Aaron Johnson, Joel Ward, Marcel Goc, Mark Dekanich, Steve Sullivan, Andreas Thuresson, Matthew Lombardi, Cody Franson
Offense: As been the Predators modus operandi throughout their existance, the Preds rely on the depth of their team for offensive exploits. No one person truly outperforms the others to be called the one the team relies on for their scoring. And this year will be no different. Expect the younger forwards to be your best producing this season Kostitsyn leading the charge for the Preds offensively with Erat, Fisher, and Legwand toeing the line with their usual outputs. Intrigued to see what a full year in Nashville will do for Mike Fisher and will being under Barry Trotz, who milks the most out his guys year after year, finally get consistency and full effort from Niclas Bergfors?
Defense: Led by Shea “The Beard” Weber, one of the premier defensemen in the league with a shin shattering slapshot, along with Ryan Suter tag team into one of the better top pairing defensemen in the league. With a team that finds team play and depth as reasons for success, dont be surprised to see Weber lead the team in scoring. Due to Weber’s profile, Suter tends to fly just a little bit under the radar and should be a lock for a minimum 40 points season. Jonathan Blum will look to continue his late season play that showed he was ready for the big time and in a big way.
Goaltending: Pekka Rinne may very well have been the best goaltender in the Western Conference, if not the league last season. There is no reason to think that Rinne won’t have another stellar year stealing quite a few games and frustrating many a shooter this year as well. Just because you are playing the Preds and Rinne gets the night off, doesnt mean you have an easy two points in your pocket. Anders Lindback is a more than capable backup and performs mightily when giving Rinne a spell.
Standout Player: Sergei Kostitsyn
After quite the standout year for Kostitsyn, I see even more from him this season. Good early chemistry can get him up over the 60 point plateau this season cementing him as one of the game’s rising young forwards. If not Kostitsyn, expect Colin Wilson’s name coming thru in a big way
Prediction: 4th Central, 8th Western Conference
I had a bit of a boggle here, I had already decided on the Columbus Blue Jackets finishing 3rd in the division and 7th in the conference, which led me to decide between Nashville and Phoenix for 8th seed in the West. I feel that there may be a small step back for the Preds this season. I have this odd suspicion that the Weber arbitration award will put a little squeeze on the Preds this season instead of waiting until next offseason when Suter’s contract is up. Nothing real concrete, just a hunch here.