Nashville Predators 2019-20 season preview


              It is not a normal thing, in any league, where a team trades way a star player, just so they can sign another star player. But the Nashville Predators did just that, trading away PK Subban so they could have the cap space to sign Matt Duchene, hoping that would improve their league worst 12.9 powerplay percentage in 2018-19. Beside that, it was a quiet offseason in Nashville, as they look to get back to beyond the first round of the playoffs.

            Additions: Matt Duchene, Daniel Carr, Steven Santini, Connor Ingram, Jeremy Davies

            Subtractions: PK Subban, Wayne Simmonds, Brian Boyle, Cody McLeod

After the Predators had just one 30 goal scorer and three fifty point players, and two 50 point forwards, they brought in Duchene, who did both last year. His 31 goals were a career high, and his 70 points were tied with 2013-14 for a career high. He also played in just 73 games last year. His 70 points would have led Nashville. Duchene is an improvement from Ryan Johansen, whose 64 points, led by a career high 50 assists, led the team. Johansen scored just 14 goals, and hasn\’t scored 20 since 2014-15, his last full season before joining the Preds. Despite playing in just 64 games, Filip Forsberg scored 28 goals with 50 points. Since his rookie season of 2014-15, Forsberg has scored 144 goals, for an average of 28.8 goals a season. But he may not be the team\’s best goal scorer. Viktor Arvidsson scored a career high 34 goals, and in just 58 games, for an 82 game pace of over 48 goals. He set the record for most single season goals in franchise history. He is also signed for the next five years, with a steal of a $4.25 million cap hit. Kyle Turris had a very disappointing season. Acquired for now top pairing defenseman Sam Girard, Turris had just 23 points in 55 games in 2018-19. He is getting paid $6 million for the next five seasons, and he\’s also 30 years old. It is a make or break season for Turris. Mikael Granlund had 69 and 67 points in 2016-17 and 2017-18, respectively. He wasn\’t on pace to hit 60 points when the Wild traded him to Nashville at the trade deadline. With Nashville, Granlund scored just one goals with five points in 16 games. Craig Smith scored 20 goals for the fifth time over the last six seasons, with 21. His 17 assists were tied for the second lowest over that stretch. Nick Bonino might have had his best season since 2013-14. He scored 17 goals with 35 points and a +27 rating, finishing 13th in Selke voting. Colton Sissons signed an odd seven year, $20 million extension in the offseason. He is coming off career highs in goals (15), points (30) and plus/minus (+20). Calle Jarnkrok had at least 15 goals with 30 points in three consecutive seasons leading up to 2018-19, but he scored just 10 goals with 26 points instead. Austin Watson was suspended for the first 27 games of the season for domestic violence, then he was suspended indefinitely in January (it ended up being 27 games) for alcohol abuse, leaving his career in jeopardy. The former first rounder had 16 points and a +11 rating in 37 games. 5\’6\’\’ forward Rocco Grimaldi played in a career high 53 games, with a career high 13 points, and scored some highlight reel goals along the way. Reigning AHL MVP Daniel Carr signs with Nashville. He scored 30 goals with 71 points in 52 games. In his 100 game NHL career, Carr has 15 goals and 35 points. Frederick Gaudreau played in 55 games, and scored his first three NHL goals (his three in the 2016-17 playoffs not included). He had just four points overall. Depth forward Miikka Salomaki scored seven points in 37 games.

Even without Subban, the Predators have some good defensemen. Captain Roman Josi is entering a contract season. He is a consistent Norris contender. He scored 15 goals with 56 points in 2018-19, finishing 7th in Norris voting for the 7th consecutive season. Mattias Ekholm finished 10th in Norris voting, with a career high 44 points and +27 rating. Coming off a career 2017-18 season where he scored 32 points in 44 games, Ryan Ellis had a career high 41 points, with a +21 rating. To take Subban\’s spot in the top four, the Predators are leaning on 2016 first rounder Dante Fabbro. Fabbro had 33 points in 38 games at Boston University, then came to the NHL. He scored his first career goal, playing in four games. 15 year veteran Dan Hamhuis returned to Nashville as a 36 year old. In 57 games, he had five assists, and a -2 rating. Steven Santini, acquired for Subban, is a defensive defenseman with 21 points in 114 career games. Yannick Weber has never lived up to his 11 goal 2014-15 season, with just five goals in the four seasons since. His +7 rating in 2018-19 was a career best. In three seasons in Nashville, Matt Irwin has 29 points in 168 games, with a +22 rating.

Pekka Rinne, who at age 35 won the Vezina Trophy in 2017-18, would have been a UFA after 2018-19, but signed a two year extension on November 3, his 36th birthday. He finished 7th in Vezina voting, with a .918 SV% and 2.42 GAA. When Rinne leaves, the Predators have their goalie of the future in Juuse Saros. Saros had a .915 SV% and 2.62 GAA. In his career, he has a .920 SV%.

                Deep Depths
Matt Donovan, who played in the NHL from 2011-12 to 2014-15, returned to the NHL, playing in two games. In the AHL, he scored 11 goals with 35 points in 64 games. Jarred Tinordi, a former first rounder with 53 games of NHL experience, hasn\’t played in the NHL since 2015-16. He had 22 points in 75 AHL games. Laurent Dauphin had 35 points in 61 AHL games.
                Up and Coming
Eeli Tolvanen was a top prospect entering 2018-19. He still is, even after a disappointing season. He had two points in four NHL games, and 35 points in 58 AHL games. Rem Pitlick, whose brother Rhett was just drafted, cousin Tyler plays for the Flyers and father Lance was a former NHLer, He had 45 points in 38 games at the University of Minnesota. Defenseman Alexandre Carrier has two games of NHL experience, from 2016-17. In the AHL, he had 37 points in 76 games.

               2019 draft class
Round 1, 24th overall: Philip Tomasino
Round 2, 45th overall: Egor Afanasyev
Round 3, 65th overall: Alexander Campbell
Round 4, 109th overall: Marc Del Gaizo
Round 4, 117th overall: Semyon Chystyakov
Round 5, 148th overall: Ethan Haider
Round 6, 179th overall: Isak Walther
Round 7, 210th overall: Juuso Parssinen

Stanley Cup winning coach Peter Laviolette is entering his 6th year as Predators Head Coach. As a Head Coach for the Predators, Flyers, Hurricanes and Islanders, Laviolette has a .589 winning percentage. The GM throughout Nashville\’s entire history, David Poile has been known to make some gutsy trades, and the Subban for Duchene cap space is one of them.

               Projected Lineup
Filip Forsberg – Ryan Johansen – Viktor Arvidsson
Mikael Granlund – Matt Duchene – Kyle Turris
Calle Jarnkork – Nick Bonino – Craig Smith
Daniel Carr – Colton Sissons – Austin Watson
Extras: Rocco Grimaldi, Miika Salomaki, Frederick Gaudreau

               Roman Josi – Ryan Ellis
               Mattias Ekholm – Dante Fabbro
               Dan Hamhuis – Yannick Weber
Extras: Steven Santini, Matt Irwin

                          Pekka Rinne
                          Juuse Saros

The Predators are obviously a good team, as a team that has made the playoffs in five consecutive seasons has to be. But every year, there is always one surprise team that doesn\’t make the playoffs. This year, I think it\’s Nashville. I think they are a fifth place team, not good enough for the playoffs in 2019-20.

Published by carterhud SI Kids Kid Reporter, Prime Time Sports Talk writer

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