30 in 30: Predators lineup restocked with forwards

Monday, 08.12.2013 / 8:39 AM CT / Features
By Corey Masisak  - NHL.com Staff Writer
X
Share with your Friends


30 in 30: Predators lineup restocked with forwards
The Predators signed forwards Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks to multiyear contracts. 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.

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.

SCHEDULE
 

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS
 

WESTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 z - ANA 82 51 24 7 228 221 109
2 y - STL 82 51 24 7 239 197 109
3 x - NSH 82 47 25 10 226 202 104
4 x - CHI 82 48 28 6 220 186 102
5 x - VAN 82 48 29 5 236 220 101
6 x - MIN 82 46 28 8 227 198 100
7 x - WPG 82 43 26 13 223 204 99
8 x - CGY 82 45 30 7 237 213 97
9 LAK 82 40 27 15 218 197 95
10 DAL 82 41 31 10 257 257 92
11 COL 82 39 31 12 209 223 90
12 SJS 82 40 33 9 224 226 89
13 EDM 82 24 44 14 193 276 62
14 ARI 82 24 50 8 165 267 56

STATS

2014-2015 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
F. Forsberg 82 26 37 15 63
M. Ribeiro 82 15 47 11 62
R. Josi 81 15 40 15 55
S. Weber 78 15 30 15 45
C. Smith 82 23 21 11 44
C. Wilson 77 20 22 19 42
M. Fisher 59 19 20 4 39
J. Neal 67 23 14 12 37
R. Ellis 58 9 18 8 27
S. Jones 82 8 19 3 27
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Rinne 41 17 6 .923 2.18
C. Hutton 6 7 4 .902 2.61