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Instant Analysis: Gaustad Signing

Sunday, 07.1.2012 / 5:21 PM CT / Features
By Jay Levin  - Nashville Predators
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Instant Analysis: Gaustad Signing

It’s impossible to look at the agreement the Preds reached with forward Paul Gaustad without recognizing the special skills Gaustad brings to the Preds – his faceoff expertise, his penalty kill excellence, and his veteran leadership inside the locker room.

But beyond those skills is what Gaustad means to the Preds roster. He – along with the qualifying offers extended earlier this month to Sergei Kostitysn and Colin Wilson – gives the Preds 12 proven NHL forwards to form the backbone of the team’s offense. Saying nothing of the group of young prospects ready to push for an NHL opportunity from the start of training camp.

Gaustad’s signing structures the group of forwards into roles well defined for each player. Fisher and Legwand will likely center the team’s top two lines with Gaustad and Spaling likely entering camp anchoring the shutdown defensive lines and Smith sliding over to the wing, but serving as a quality injury replacement down the middle when the inevitable bumps and bruises occur. Erat, Hornqvist, Kostitsyn, Wilson, and Smith will enter camp with the best chance of earning time on the wing across from Fisher and Legwand. Bourque, Halischuk, and Yip appear well entrenched filling out the roster.

And the likelihood is strong that the Preds will further strengthen the group – be it an addition from outside the organization in free agency or trade or be it growth from within the organization. Preds GM David Poile, in addressing the Nashville media on Sunday, noted the team's involvement in the Zach Parise free agency sweepstakes, among other potential forward targets. Prospects Bang, Beck, Lajunen, Latta, MacLellan, and Mueller all have the potential and development pedigree to contribute in the NHL this season in various roles.

Still, without any additions, the current group is – at least on paper – more impressive than the group the Preds iced upfront for the majority of the 2011-12 season, the group that finished the 2011-12 eighth in the NHL in goals.

SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 CHI 56 36 16 4 158 128 76
2 DAL 53 33 15 5 170 142 71
3 STL 55 30 17 8 132 129 68
4 LAK 51 31 17 3 135 117 65
5 SJS 51 27 20 4 147 138 58
6 NSH 53 25 20 8 136 139 58
7 COL 55 27 24 4 148 152 58
8 ANA 51 25 19 7 113 121 57
9 MIN 52 23 20 9 127 126 55
10 ARI 52 24 22 6 138 161 54
11 VAN 52 20 20 12 120 142 52
12 CGY 51 23 25 3 134 148 49
13 WPG 52 23 26 3 136 150 49
14 EDM 54 21 28 5 132 164 47

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 53 10 27 -2 37
S. Weber 53 14 21 -4 35
F. Forsberg 53 15 18 -6 33
M. Ribeiro 53 6 27 3 33
J. Neal 53 19 13 18 32
M. Ekholm 53 6 16 3 22
R. Ellis 52 6 15 2 21
C. Smith 53 11 6 -1 17
C. Jarnkrok 52 9 7 0 16
C. Wilson 36 4 12 0 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 17 7 .904 2.50
C. Hutton 5 2 1 .916 2.36