It wasn’t the prettiest week for the Predators, that’s for sure. Going 0-for-California wasn’t what the club had in mind, scoring only three goals during that stretch. So it probably doesn’t surprise anyone to hear the word “change” floating about at practice today.
Nashville has made its second and third waiver claims of the season by plucking Bobby Butler and Zach Boychuk off the wire this week. For a team desperately looking for a spark, it’s definitely a chance worth taking on two younger and hopefully motivated players who might do well with a change of scenery.
Head coach Barry Trotz wasted no time in dropping both players into full roles at practice today, placing Butler with Martin Erat and Craig Smith as well as on a power play unit; Boychuk was installed with Patric Hornqvist and Mike Fisher. Mind you, things can certainly change over the next few days before Nashville battles Edmonton on Friday night, but for the time being that leaves other lines as Kostitsyn-Gaustad-Clune and Wilson-Legwand-Bourque with Spaling and Halischuk wearing the light blue sweaters on their own.
Coach Trotz has this to say about plugging in his two new players:
“I’m just learning about Zach… he’s got a good skill set and he can really scoot. He’s had success at the American Hockey League level but not at the NHL level, so we need to find out where he can change to have success here.
“Butler has had some success at both levels but hasn’t had staying power yet. This is an opportunity for both of them. Our scouts have identified them as guys who can give us an offensive boost but we’ve got to figure out what makes them tick so they can have success at this level.”
So how do you do that with a player?
“I think you have to give them honest evaluation,” Trotz said. “We always want to hear what we’re doing well, but sometimes you’ve got to be a little honest and say ‘this is what holds you back, this is why you’re not having success.' We all have holes, we’re all human.”
True enough that these two have not seen full-time success at the NHL level. Boychuk was drafted 14th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2008 and has had high expectations because of that. But with Nashville marking his third NHL stop this season, the time is quickly approaching to define himself as something more than a player who will bounce from team to team.
Butler has taken a slightly different route as an undrafted free agent who has skated for the Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils before coming to Nashville. A former Hobey Baker award finalist at the University of New Hampshire, Butler never seemed to fit in with the Devils so perhaps moving to another organization is just what the doctor ordered for him.
“Realistically we’re not happy with our game, realistically we’re underachieving from what I think our potential is, realistically as a group we’re under achieving,” said Trotz. “It goes right through the room… from the coaching staff to the players. We’re all together in this.”
Perhaps adding a little bit to the mix will provide the right recipe for team success as well.
? Rich Clune was out on the ice without his jaw protector for the first time in several weeks, causing him to remark as he walked by: “The muzzle is off!”
? Victor Bartley skated with the Predators today and will wear #64 just as he did in training camp. With Milwaukee this year Bartley has seven goals and 26 points to go with a +4 rating in 54 games.
? You’d better come to the rink this weekend if you want to see this team – the Predators play only two home games in a 10 game stretch that won’t see another contest at Bridgestone Arena after Saturday until March 21 when they host the Calgary Flames.
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