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30 in 30: Predators lineup restocked with forwards

Monday, 08.12.2013 / 8:39 AM CT / Features
By Corey Masisak  - NHL.com Staff Writer
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30 in 30: Predators lineup restocked with forwards

After making the Stanley Cup Playoffs seven times in the previous eight years, the departure of Ryan Suter and injuries to other key players played a large role in it becoming seven times in nine seasons for the Nashville Predators.

General manager David Poile was busy once free agency began. He signed forwards Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks to multiyear contracts worth a combined $36.4 million. None of those four are likely to revive a stagnant offense on his own, but each could be a slight upgrade over the players who held down their roles in 2012-13.

Landing defenseman Seth Jones with the No. 4 pick was a well-publicized coup at the 2013 NHL Draft, and expect him to see important minutes right away in Nashville. A step forward from Ryan Ellis and a solid rookie campaign by Jones could help replace the offense from the blue line lost when Suter left for the Minnesota Wild.

For the Predators to be a playoff team in the new-look Central Division, they are going to need more offense from somewhere and a return to Vezina Trophy form by Pekka Rinne.

Here is the projected 2013-14 lineup for the Predators:

Forwards

Colin Wilson - Mike Fisher - Patric Hornqvist

Viktor Stalberg - David Legwand - Filip Forsberg

Nick Spaling - Matt Cullen - Craig Smith

Eric Nystrom - Paul Gaustad - Matt Hendricks

Gabriel Bourque - Richard Clune

Defensemen

Roman Josi - Shea Weber

Seth Jones - Kevin Klein

Mattias Ekholm - Ryan Ellis

Victor Bartley

Goalies

Pekka Rinne

Carter Hutton

NOTES: Fisher's most frequent linemates in 2012-13, according to the line combinations at Dobberhockey.com, were Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn. Neither is in Nashville anymore; Erat was traded before the deadline and Kostitsyn will play in the Kontinental Hockey League. The offense could receive a jolt if Forsberg or Austin Watson is able to claim a place on the top two lines, or if Colin Wilson finally puts together a healthy, breakout season.

The scrum for spots in the bottom two lines should be interesting to watch during training camp. Nashville has about 16 forwards for 12 spots, and the names not listed above are Smith and Taylor Beck, who can be sent to the American Hockey League without needing waivers.
SMASHVILLE CENTRAL

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STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 DAL 56 36 15 5 182 150 77
2 CHI 58 36 18 4 160 134 76
3 STL 57 31 17 9 138 133 71
4 LAK 54 33 18 3 151 128 69
5 COL 58 29 25 4 155 160 62
6 SJS 53 28 20 5 154 143 61
7 NSH 56 26 21 9 147 148 61
8 ANA 53 26 19 8 120 125 60
9 ARI 54 25 23 6 143 164 56
10 MIN 55 23 22 10 135 138 56
11 VAN 55 22 21 12 127 149 56
12 CGY 54 25 26 3 144 160 53
13 WPG 54 24 27 3 139 157 51
14 EDM 56 22 29 5 138 168 49

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
R. Josi 56 11 31 0 42
F. Forsberg 56 18 18 -7 36
S. Weber 56 15 21 -2 36
M. Ribeiro 56 6 30 3 36
J. Neal 56 21 14 19 35
M. Ekholm 56 6 19 3 25
R. Ellis 55 6 16 2 22
C. Jarnkrok 55 11 8 2 19
C. Smith 56 11 7 -1 18
R. Johansen 16 4 12 6 16
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 20 18 8 .902 2.57
C. Hutton 6 2 1 .924 2.10