Today we are continuing our series that takes a look at fellow Central division rivals for the upcoming 2016-2017 season. Once again the Central Division lines up to be one of the toughest divisions in all of hockey. with all seven teams ( yes, even the Jets) being legitimate playoff threats.
Today, we look at the Nashville Predators
How they did last year
Record: 41-27-14 (4th in central)
Nashville may have squeaked in to the playoffs last year as a wild card, but that didn’t prevent them from making some noise once they reached the post season. The Predators upset the Pacific Division winning Anaheim Ducks to advance to the second round and then gave the Sharks a run for their money in a seven game series in the second round.
Last season was a step in the right direction for the Predators as they acquired the number one centre they have long awaited when they sent Seth Jones to Columbus in exchange for Ryan Johansen. Johansen recorded 36 points in his first 42 games as a Predator. The Fillip Forsberg show continued to be at the forefront for the Preds as the 22 year old forward recorded 64 points in 82 games. Both Forsberg and Johansen provided an offensive spark that has been long needed to compliment the defensively structured Predators.
Pekka Rinne was the go-to-guy between the pipes as usual. Rinne logged the second most amount of minutes for a goaltender with 3895:22 accumulated throughout the season all the while maintaining a decent .908 save percentage. Last season was somewhat of a down year from Rinne but the three time Vezna Trophy finalist will be better equipped next season to have a bounce back year.
What did they do this summer?
The Predators offseason was highlighted by the Shea Weber for P.K Subban swap that shocked the hockey world. The move was a widely regarded win for the Predators and adding Subban further solidifies that the Predators have the best defenseman in the league. Subban will likely be paired with Roman Josi to make up Nashville’s top pair. An underrated move was the Predators somehow retaining Calle Jarnkrok at a mere 2 million dollar AAV for the next six seasons.
Subban scores on the powerplay for Nashville pic.twitter.com/BzvXv1PaBp
— Marc Dumont (@MarcPDumont) October 2, 2016
The 25 year-old Swede notched 16 goals last season and provides the Predators with cheap bottom six scoring going forward. And to sum it all up in more recent news Nashville re-signed head coach Peter Laviolette to a two year extension days before the seasons heads underway.
How did they do against the Jets last year?
Finished 3-1-1 against the Jets while outshooting out scoring and overall out playing Winnipeg in all of those contests.
What to expect this season?
The Predators are going to be in contention to win the division all throughout the season. The moves they’ve made over the last six months in acquiring Ryan Johansen and P.K Subban bolster their already playoff calibre lineup in to a lineup that will be in the mix to hoist the Stanley Cup. P.K Subban could have a breakout year and be a finalist or even win the Norris Trophy. Playing alongside an elite defensive defenseman like Roman Josi will compliment Subban’s offensive and exciting stye of play. Johansen could emerge in to one of the best centres in the league with young star Filip Forsberg on his wing.
The Predators are my favourite to win the central division and you should expect to see lots of excitement coming from Nashville this season.