The Preds finished the 2011-2012 season with a 21.6% power play conversion rate that was first in the NHL. The league-leading power play pushed the Preds to 8th in the NHL in goals-per-game and lead to a strong post-season run. The summer of 2012 was not as positive as it saw the loss of Ryan Suter, half of the top power play blue line in the league. The loss of Suter’s 25 power play points, coupled with the injuries to Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson saw the Preds power play fall to 17th in the league this past season and goals-per-game plummeted to 29th overall.
The summer months were spent trying to fix the Preds’ offensive woes and the power play should benefit from new additions, both on and off the ice. The key off-ice change is the
addition of Phil Housley to the coaching staff. Housley, 49, is arguably the greatest American-born defenseman in NHL history and was a constant offensive threat from the blue line. His career totals of 1232 points in 1495 NHL games includes seven twenty-goal seasons and ranks him fourth all-time for defensemen. Housley should help in redeveloping the power play system, and in his ability to mentor and groom the Preds’ stable of young defenders. One item that will be high on Housley’s agenda will be grooming offensive-minded defensemen to help man the blue line on the power play. Roman Josi and Seth Jones will be the two most likely candidates for top-unit power play minutes and should both benefit from spending time picking Housley’s elite offensive mind. For more background on Housley, click here.
In addition to Housley’s ability to overhaul the power play system, new bodies should also help push the power play back towards elite status. Jones logged minutes on the Winterhawks’ top power play unit and his heavy shot should give the Preds a second option to compliment Shea Weber’s booming shot. The acquisition of Zach Parise cost Matt Cullen most of his power play time last year, but his minutes should go up this year and he has scored as many as eight power play goals in a season. Viktor Stalberg has yet to score a power play goal in his young playing career but he rarely saw time on the power play in Chicago where he played behind a talented top two lines. He should see some opportunities on the power play this season and could be an impact player. The addition of Jones and the upgraded offensive talent, combined with Housley behind the bench put the Preds in prime position to improve on last year’s power play numbers.