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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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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