NHL.com once again continued their annual '30-in-30' series this year by covering all thirty teams in thirty days of August before training camp opens up in September. Monday, it was the Nashville Predators' day in the 30-in-30 and was featured on the official site with five articles by NHL.com writers Mike Morreale and Corey Masisak. Both guys covered a variety of topics including their offseason moves, projected lines and top prospects.
Below are the five stories written by NHL.com:
All systems were go for Nashville Predators forward Colin Wilson on his way to a breakout season before sustaining an injury in March.
The 6-foot-1, 216-pound left-handed shot was leading the Predators with 19 points, including seven goals, through the opening 24 games before a shoulder injury ended his run March 9, one day after striking for two goals and four points and being named the game's first star in a 6-0 victory against the Edmonton Oilers.
Wilson exited a game against the Minnesota Wild early in the second period after being checked hard into the end boards in the opposing zone by defenseman Justin Falk. Wilson had stabilization surgery on each shoulder within a span of a few weeks in April and began his core and lower-body offseason workout program in June.
"I'm rehabbing every single day and doing everything I can," Wilson told The Tennessean in June. "I'm ahead of schedule right now."
The health of Colin Wilson will be key next season for the Predators and will be monitored closely during the early-stages of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery in April. Despite missing twenty-three games, Wilson was my MVP for Nashville last season. In twenty-five games last season, the 23-year-old posted nineteen points (7g, 12a).
There is a lot expected from him next season with the potential of becoming the long-awaited top-line power-forward the Preds have been wanting for years.
Naturally, one of several big questions surrounding the team entering 2013-14 is the state of the offense; no player had more than 12 goals and three finished in double digits.
"We have world-class players here like [captain] Shea Weber and [goalie] Pekka Rinne, who are both in the prime of their careers, and the goal is to capitalize and build around them in order to win with them," Poile said. "It's my job to identify the right pieces to complement them and give us the best chance to compete for the Stanley Cup. That remains our goal, and returning to the playoffs is step one."
Here are six questions the Predators face heading into the 2013-14 season:
This was quite the thought provoking read. The first question asked was, "Can the Nashville offense turn it around?"…It will certainly better than last season, but the bar is set pretty low from last season. 2) "Will the free agent signings make a difference?"…In the scoring department, hardly, but in the roles that a bottom six forwards has, Matt Hendricks and Eric Nystrom are capable of handling their jobs well. Skipping on down to five, the question is, "Can defenseman Ryan Ellis become a transitional force?"…We'll see. He most likely needs a change in scenery, whether that is playing in a different system or moving up to forward. The first twenty games of the season will be telling. And the last one, "Can the Predators reach 100 points?"…Definitely not. They are playoff contenders at the most, so don't set too high of an expectation for a team yet to acquire a true top-six scorer.
On the first day of NHL free agency last month, Nashville Predators general manager David Poile admitted he had never been so eager to upgrade his roster.
Failing to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in four seasons while equaling the lowest goals per game average (2.27) in the NHL can do that to someone holding his team to a much higher standard.
The Predators' transition game suffered a major blow with the loss of defenseman Ryan Suter to the Minnesota Wild via free agency in the summer of 2012, and the highest goal-scorer on the roster was forward David Legwand with 12 in 48 games.
This is an overall great read for one who doesn't follow the Predators as close as some throughout the offseason. I will not go into detail about the article because if you've read Fang Faction this summer, you would know our thoughts on everything that was mentioned.
There's plenty to get excited about when the topic turns to the young talent close to making an impact in the NHL for the Nashville Predators.
"Yes, definitely," Predators chief amateur scout Jeff Kealty told NHL.com. "Looking at it, there's some good depth and high-end talent in the system."
Even before the Predators hit the jackpot by selecting defenseman Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks with the No. 4 pick at the 2013 NHL Draft, their system seemed to be filled with talented prospects at every position.
The selection of Jones immediately gave the Predators depth along the blue line for the 2013-14 season. Kealty said the hope is for Jones to step right into training camp, make an impression and earn a spot in the NHL lineup.
"He's pretty well-polished and proven that in his career up to this point," Kealty said. "Obviously you're talking about the best League in the world now, and that'll be played out, but we're hopeful."
I couldn't agree more with this list NHL.com came up with. I'm excited to see what Miikka Salomaki will do in the minors with the Admirals, and hopefully make his way up to the Predators' lineup within the next two seasons. Watching him play for Finland in the World Championships alongside Joel Armia and Mikael Granlund, two talented NHL prospects, opened up eyes in Nashville to his tremendous skill.
Here is the projected 2013-14 lineup for the Predators:
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
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Seth Jones – Kevin Klein
Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis
There are two things wrong with this projected lineup by Corey Masisak. One, there is no way Gabriel Bourque is to be a healthy scratch, while Matt Hendricks, Eric Nystrom and Craig Smith hit the ice. Bourque is an excellent skater with grit, despite his size. He is the prototypical-Predator that Barry Trotz loves.
Victor Bartley getting the short-end of the stick while Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis — two unproven young defensemen — would be in the lineup? I doubt it. Bartley had an impressive showing towards the end of the 2012-13 season closing out with a +2 rating in twenty-five games. Nevertheless, this defense competition in training camp for the fifth and sixth spots will be entertaining.