We have looked at the goaltending and the blueline… now it’s time to take a look at the forwards in our annual Nashville Predators season review by position series.
The forwards for Nashville always seem to be a bone of contention for Pred fans, the Predators always (along with 30 other NHL teams) seem to be looking for more scoring. More pop form the forward corps… this season was no exception. Special teams will have their own review so I won’t go too deep on the power play woes.
The top line of Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg were dominant again, when they were together. Forsberg missed 18 games and still managed to score 28 goals, Arvidsson missed 24 games a tallied 34, one of the best goals per game played in the league, and all surrounded by one of the best setup men in the biz, Ryan Johansen posted 50 assists this season and 14 goals to add to his team leading scoring at 64 points. The “shoot more” criticism continues for Johansen, especially when those around him sometimes struggled to finish. This line will be just fine… especially as Arvidsson continues to push against the ceiling of his goal scoring, setting a franchise record for goals in a season last year.
That brings us to the second line of Kyle Turris, Craig Smith and Kevin Fiala/Mikael Granlund. I still believe the trade for Granlund was a solid move, even though his performance wasn’t what you would call, stellar when he came over to the Preds at the deadline. I am willing to give him a small pass as life threw him a BUNCH of curveballs at that time… new team, new baby, relocation of his family… a difficult situation all around. Craig Smith had a typical Craig Smith year, his fifth 20+ goal season, decent assist total and his normal shooting percentage. He followed up on a career year in 17/18 with a fine season… and then there was Kyle Turris, who posted the worst season of his professional career. 7g, 16a and 23 points in 65 games. Was it injury? Was it confidence? Combination of both? But his new contract kicks in this upcoming season and he simply has to get back to his previous performance. There is hope however, as so far in the IIHF Worlds, Turris has looked very good.
The rest of the roster slots in the third or fourth lines, so let’s look at them… Brian Boyle was an outstanding add to this team and performed to standard. I would really like to see him back in gold next season, he is the kind of leader this team can utilize well. At center, we have a few players that look to have hit their developmental limit… that’s not a knock, it just where they are. Calle Jarnkrok is the Swiss… errr… Swedish Army Knife of the team, he can be used in almost any role, any position for a short period of time. His shooting percentage was off this past season, a full 2 points lower than his career percentage so I would expect a rebound next season. Colton Sissons had his best statistical season of his career. Austin Watson, when he was on the ice, was highly impactful. Nick Bonino has slotted nicely into a third line role. And let’s not forget the surprise of the season, Rocco Grimaldi, who went from depth signing for Milwaukee to playing his way into a regular role with this team.
I know I am forgetting some, however… this team is not short on role players. When the first two lines are clicking… the bottom six is highly effective in chipping in secondary scoring, frankly no matter who is in those roles.
This forward group is good… but it appears that the rest of the division has caught up, creating what should be a crazy Central Division race next season. I’d like to see some adjustments with the system, I wonder if the offensive system that the Predators are playing fits the personnel that Nashville has? It is this observer’s thought that this team will be back with a vengeance next season. The rest of the division has caught up, so some tweaks will need to be made, but a full camp and season with both Boyle and Granlund should be a good thing. Better health throughout the season will be a good thing and a longer offseason can be leveraged for the entire team. There is some talent waiting in the wings as well … Eeli Tolvanen continues to develop well in Milwaukee.
Next up… the coaching staff and special teams.
The Playoff Status
The Eastern Conference Final
(2) Boston vs (WC1) Carolina – BOS leads 2-0 – Game 3 – Tomorrow – 7pm - NBCSN
The Western Conference Final
(2) San Jose vs. (3) St. Louis – SJS leads 1-0 – Game 2 – Tonight – 8pm – NBCSN
- Late last week it was reported that the City of Nashville and the Predators have agreed to extend their lease of Bridgestone Arena by 30 years. Not sure if that extension kicks in now or when the current lease expires in 2028. Details are expected to be released this week.
- Pred Watch at Worlds – The IIHF World Championship tournament is in full swing. Five Predators are participating. Kyle Turris has 2g and 1a in his first two games and Dante Fabbro has a goal for Team Canada, Roman Josi has two assists for Team Switzerland Yannick Weber (Swiss) and Mattias Ekholm (Sweden) are scoreless so far.
- Worlds Results – Big win for Team USA today as they took down Finland 3-2 in overtime… Dylan Larkin had the game winner in OT. They are 1-1-1 for 5 points in the tournament so far
- Captain – Kyle Turria was named captain of Team Canada.
- Spanked – Carolina is down 0-2… but they are really tough at home… this series isn’t done yet.
- Kesler– Ducks forward Ryan Kesler had successful hip surgery last week… he will miss the 19/20 season but could return for 20/21.
- Team Rankings – The Hockey News has ranked all 31 NHL teams… the Preds came in at 9. Other Central teams… St. Louis at 6, Colorado at 14, Minnesota at 16, Chicago at 17, Dallas at 22 and Winnipeg at 30?
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