With Paul Gaustad missing the St. Louis game tonight due to an upper-body injury and questionable for tomorrow against Minnesota, and Nick Spaling being stuck in between two of either Brian McGrattan, Rich Clune, and Brandon Yip all night, it looks like the Nashville Predators need to call somebody up from Milwaukee. The question is, which forward might get the call?
Gabriel Bourque was expected to make the team out of camp. But he was injured in December playing for the Admirals and only returned to play with them last week. Coach Barry Trotz says everyone assumes Bourque will be the call-up, but the team has other options if they want to give Gabby more time to get back to speed.
Michael Latta is one of the guys I’d love to see wearing Nashville Predators gold. In Milwaukee this year the 22-year-old center has 22 points (5G-17A) and 115 PIMs in 39 games. He scores, he passes, he hits, he fights – everything he does is about energy. His Hockey’s Future scouting report says he has “displayed a willingness bordering on zeal for competing in the corners and in front of the net.” The Preds could’ve used some of that in the second and third periods against Columbus. Even against the Blues, someone like Latta would’ve been very useful in the third period when the Blues just refused to go away, if for no other reason than to still have some kind of skill factor on the ice when the top lines are resting.
Taylor Beck has been a real producer in Milwaukee, picking up 26 points (6G-20A) in 33 games. That’s a step up from last year’s point pace for Beck, who was known as an elite power forward in the Ontario Hockey League. At 6’2”, 205, he would add some size to Nashville’s lineup, too.
Austin Watson is only in his first year with the Admirals, but he was a big-time scorer in juniors when he played alongside Beck. He’s been a presence for the Admirals this season, picking up 20 points (13G-7A). Everyone knows how strict David Poile is about the road to Nashville leading through Milwaukee, and I think that makes Watson a long-shot to get the call. But he’s at least in the mix.
There’s also center Chris Mueller, who has 177 points in four seasons for Milwaukee but has just 3 points in 19 career games with the Nashville Predators.
Gabriel Bourque is probably still the most likely long-term call-up if only because he’s further ahead in his development than the others. He was one of the sparks that kept the Nashville Predators going late last season after being called up from Milwaukee, even scoring three goals in the playoff series against Detroit and seeing some playing time on the top line. But we could see any of these guys if Gaustad’s out for any kind of time at all, given how compressed the schedule is.
Even if Gaustad comes back from his upper body injury shortly, I’d like to see one of these forwards here just to add some more skill to the team. Nick Spaling has looked good on Nashville’s fourth line so far, but he’s had the misfortune of being surrounded with McGrattan, Yip, and Rich Clune – not exactly a formula for dominating the other team. Imagine if he had someone who’s energetic and skilled and really hungry to play in the NHL putting in equal effort alongside him. That’s the kind of fourth line that can not only eat a few minutes to give your top lines some rest but actively take the game to the other team in the meantime. And seeing how the team has had a rough time in the third period of both its games so far, having a line like that would really help the Nashville Predators compete in a wide-open season.
Do you think the Preds need to call somebody up? Or are they fine as they are?
Which forward should Nashville call up from Milwaukee?
- Gabriel Bourque (63%, 12 Votes)
- Michael Latta (26%, 5 Votes)
- They're fine, they've got #TheClune (21%, 4 Votes)
- Taylor Beck (16%, 3 Votes)
- Austin Watson (11%, 2 Votes)
- Chris Mueller (0%, 0 Votes)
Total Voters: 19