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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 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