As we approach the 2016-17 season, we’re previewing what’s ahead for each of the 30 NHL teams. Here’s what’s on deck for the Nashville Predators.
MAIN SUMMER HEADLINES
Head coach: Peter Laviolette
GM: David Poile
Team payroll: $66,973,331
2015-16 Record: 41-27-14 (Fourth in Central)
GF: 228 (12th in NHL)
GA: 215 (12th in NHL)
Result: Lost in second round to San Jose, 4-3
Key acquisitions: P.K. Subban, Matthew Carle, Yannick Weber
Key departures: Shea Weber, Carter Hutton, Paul Gaustad
Rookies to watch: Kevin Fiala scored one goal in five games last season in his second brief stint with the Predators. The former 11th overall pick hasn’t secured a full-time job in the NHL but his 18 goals and 50 points in 68 games with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals are certainly a sign he’s on his way.
Expect Fiala to get a better look in 2016-17.
Vladislav Kamenev, the Predators’ second-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, also turned in an impressive performance in Milwaukee, totalling 15 goals and 37 points in 57 games in his first season on North American soil.
Kamenev is a candidate for a look in the NHL, although the Russian winger is currently projected to spend another full season in the AHL.
Nashville will have a successful season if…
Someone outside of Filip Forsberg and James Neal proves capable of scoring on a regular basis and Subban is given a green light to flex his offensive prowess out of the backend.
Weber’s departure will be felt on the power play, where his big shot helped him finish tied for fourth among all skaters last season in power-play goals with 14. Subban’s dynamic skill set should make for an entertaining brand of hockey as he joins an already very capable puck-moving defence corps.
Forsberg appears to be a superstar in the making, but the scoring thins out pretty quickly beyond the 64 goals he and Neal combined for in 2015-16. Colin Wilson’s production dipped from 20 goals in 2014-15 to just six last season. A full season from Ryan Johansen and a little more faith in Calle Jarnkrok as a top-six player could help.
Nashville will have an unsuccessful season if…
Pekka Rinne’s 2015-16 season was more truth than an aberration. The 33-year-old goaltender finished the campaign with a .908 save percentage, which is a sharp dip from the .923 mark he registered the previous season.
The Predators need some secondary scoring out of the likes of Wilson, Craig Smith, and Jarnkrok, all of whom have flashed potential to light the lamp at points in their careers. Mike Ribeiro, who totalled 62 points in 82 games in 2014-15, was a healthy scratch for two games versus the Sharks in the playoffs. He needs to be better…much better.