When training camp for the Preds opened there were 61 players vying for a spot on the roster. On Friday, the first cuts took place and nineteen players were sent home. A second cut was made on Saturday that slimmed the roster further. The cuts leave thirty-three players trying to earn a spot on the final twenty-three man Opening Day Playing Roster.
Even with so many names remaining, there are not a lot of roster questions left to be answered. A typical twenty-three man roster includes fourteen forwards, seven defencemen and two goaltenders. The Preds currently have twelve forwards signed to one-way NHL contracts and it is unlikely any of them would end up in the Milwaukee. The last two active roster spots for forwards should go to Rich Clune and Filip Forsberg. While Clune signed a two-year extension over the summer, it has yet to kick in, so he will be playing in the last year of a two-way contract this season. His contract status and the added grit of Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks make it possible that Clune could start the season in Milwaukee. However, it is unlikely he would have received an extension if Nashville did not intend to have him continue his abrasive role on the fourth line. Forsberg finished last season in Nashville and displayed flashes of the promise that made him a first-round pick. The Pred’s off-season additions should allow Forsberg to be eased into the lineup without too much pressure on him offensively.
There is only a little more drama on the defensive side of the roster. The Preds have four defenders on one-way contracts heading into this season: Shea Weber, Kevin Klein, Roman Josi, and Victor Bartley. While there hasn’t been a definitive statement made, Seth Jones appears ready to jump to the NHL. The question with him will be who he partners with. Ryan Ellis should also earn a roster spot. Ellis has 64 NHL games under his belt and is the most experienced option remaining. He is also in the last year of an entry-level contract and will need to prove he belongs if he wants to be resigned. The remaining spot will likely come down to a battle between Joonas Jarvinen, Joe Piskula and Mattias Ekholm. Jarvinen has no NHL experience and has only spent one season in North America but he plays a more physical game than Piskula and Ekholm. Piskula has the most NHL experience (only ten games) but offers less offensive upside than Jarvinen and plays less physical. Ekholm may have the best opportunity to earn the roster spot. He has more offensive upside than the other two and, at 6’4″, is still a big body on the blueline.