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Developing Depth Keeps Pressure On Preds NHLers

Wednesday, 10.5.2011 / 3:12 PM CT / Training Camp Central
By Bryan Mullen
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Developing Depth Keeps Pressure On Preds NHLers
The Nashville Predators’ roster is technically set for the start of the 2011-12 regular season.

Realistically, fans should expect it be fluid and ever-changing in the coming weeks.

The Predators open the season with back-to-back road games, beginning in Columbus on Friday and ending at St. Louis on Saturday. As it stands, Nashville’s current roster is unlikely to change until Sunday at the earliest.

“We have a lot of depth on a very young roster,” Predators General Manager/President of Hockey Operations David Poile said. “We have 30 guys who can play for us.”

That means the younger, less experienced players who made the roster out of camp this year cannot rest on their laurels. With so much talent in Milwaukee, there will always be "hungry" prospects in the AHL jockying for a shot with the big club.

“There is still that thing in the back of your head where you know you can get sent back down just as fast as being sent up,” said Nashville rookie forward Craig Smith, who made the opening day roster. “I’m glad I made it through camp, but from here on out, you have to play and you have to produce. You have to show up every day.”

Having to take a peek over your shoulder isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the younger players; it eliminates the risk of complacency.

“There are a lot of good players who can fill any spot,” Smith said. “There’s going to be a lot of urgency throughout the entire year. Every time you touch the ice, it has to be ‘go time.’ You have to make sure you’re doing the right things and let it play out.”

Predators Coach Barry Trotz used defenseman Teemu Laakso as an example. Laakso made the roster out of training camp in the '09-10 season, but when Cody Franson came up to replace him, Laakso never made it back to Nashville that season. He appeared in one game with the Preds last year. Laakso is on this year’s opening day roster, however.

A Year Ago...
Last season 10 different Preds prospects who missed out on the Opening Night roster were recalled to Nashville and contributed to the NHL squad, including four skaters who opened the season in the AHL but were regulars in Nashville during the playoffs – defenseman Jonathon Blum and forwards Blake Geoffrion, Matt Halischuk and Nick Spaling. Both Blum and Geoffrion made their NHL debuts late in the regular season and went on play big roles with the club during the stretch drive and through the post-season. Blum had the game-winning goal in the March 19 win over Detroit which pushed the Preds up into the No. 8 seed at the time and then Geoffrion’s hat trick the next day in the Preds come-from-behind win at Buffalo was a turning point in the team’s race to lock down a playoff seed. Who do you think can be this year's Blum, Geoffrion, Halischuk, or Spaling? Click here to voice your opinion.
--Jay Levin, NashvillePredators.com
“Things can change in a moment,” Trotz said. “I think most players understand that the decisions that are made for today are the right decisions. But that might not be the decisions for the year.”

Decisions are sometimes out of a player’s control. For example, when forward Mike Fisher returns from IR, a player will have to be sent to Milwaukee. And if Ryan Ellis, a highly-talented defenseman, tears it up in the first few games in Milwaukee, room could be made for him in Nashville. Also, if an overly tough style of play is not needed after the first two games, forward Zack Stortini could be sent down.

“Players actually sort themselves out based on good play, bad play, indifferent play,” Trotz said. “It becomes a pecking order in terms of who is the better player down there. They’re already being put in an order and that’s what training camp sort of does. You go from there.”

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - DAL 82 50 23 9 267 230 109
2 x - STL 82 49 24 9 224 201 107
3 x - CHI 82 47 26 9 235 209 103
4 y - ANA 82 46 25 11 218 192 103
5 x - LAK 82 48 28 6 225 195 102
6 x - SJS 82 46 30 6 241 210 98
7 x - NSH 82 41 27 14 228 215 96
8 x - MIN 82 38 33 11 216 206 87
9 COL 82 39 39 4 216 240 82
10 ARI 82 35 39 8 209 245 78
11 WPG 82 35 39 8 215 239 78
12 CGY 82 35 40 7 231 260 77
13 VAN 82 31 38 13 191 243 75
14 EDM 82 31 43 8 203 245 70

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 33 31 1 64
R. Josi 81 14 47 -3 61
J. Neal 82 31 27 27 58
S. Weber 78 20 31 -7 51
M. Ribeiro 81 7 43 11 50
C. Smith 82 21 16 4 37
M. Ekholm 82 8 27 14 35
R. Johansen 42 8 26 10 34
R. Ellis 79 10 22 13 32
C. Jarnkrok 81 16 14 1 30
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 34 21 10 .908 2.48
C. Hutton 7 5 4 .918 2.33