Roster Shakeout: 3 Bubble Players To Watch

Saturday, 10.01.2011 / 5:17 PM / Training Camp Central
By Bryan Mullen
The time is now.

Coming off a stirring shootout win at Winnipeg on Friday, the Nashville Predators end the preseason tonight when they host Carolina at 7 p.m. at Bridgestone Arena. This will be the final opportunity for players on the bubble to make one last push and earn a spot on the roster. For those who don’t make it, there is some solace. Predators Coach Barry Trotz said those who are currently playing will almost certainly be utilized at some point in Nashville this season.

Still, making the roster out of camp is a confidence builder and the goal for the bubble guys.

Here are three to keep an eye on …

Mattias Ekholm, D: Ekholm has been playing more mature than his age (21). He’s been steady on defense, despite one rough sequence against Washington on Wednesday when he lost his footing and allowed the Capitals’ Mathieu Perreault to score. On Friday, he had an assist on David Legwand’s power play goal while manning the point. There is not much flash to his game, and that’s fine with Nashville’s management. Being steady, solid and reliable are keys for defensemen to make the Predators’ roster.

Chris Mueller, F: Started the preseason with a three-game and has played everything from the top line to the fourth line during the exhibition campaign. He was a perfect 10 for 10 on faceoffs Friday night in Winnipeg. This time last year, he didn’t even have an NHL contract. Nashville signed him on Dec. 28 and he made his NHL debut one night later. Mueller has already played in a team-high five games this preseason, so he may sit out tonight, but he's built up a strong body of work already.

Craig Smith, F: He erupted three weeks ago when he had six goals and one assist in two rookie games at Florida. Smith just turned 22, but you’d never know from his poise and confidence playing against some of the best players in the NHL. He isn’t afraid to take a shot, evidenced by his game-high five shots against Washington (a game he had two assists in). It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if he makes the roster, but it would go against Nashville’s style of having a prospect spend time in Milwaukee, no matter the talent level.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 54 20 8 266 209 116
2 y - COL 82 52 22 8 250 220 112
3 x - STL 82 52 23 7 248 191 111
4 x - SJS 82 51 22 9 249 200 111
5 x - CHI 82 46 21 15 267 220 107
6 x - LAK 82 46 28 8 206 174 100
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10 NSH 82 38 32 12 216 242 88
11 WPG 82 37 35 10 227 237 84
12 VAN 82 36 35 11 196 223 83
13 CGY 82 35 40 7 209 241 77
14 EDM 82 29 44 9 203 270 67

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
S. Weber 79 23 33 -2 56
P. Hornqvist 76 22 31 1 53
C. Smith 79 24 28 16 52
M. Fisher 75 20 29 -4 49
R. Josi 72 13 27 -2 40
M. Cullen 77 10 29 4 39
C. Wilson 81 11 22 -1 33
N. Spaling 71 13 19 2 32
R. Ellis 80 6 21 9 27
G. Bourque 74 9 17 -5 26
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
C. Hutton 20 11 4 .910 2.62
D. Dubnyk 11 18 3 .891 3.43

 
 

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