Alright, so, it’s January 21 and the Predators have played 45 games so there is no better time for our first ever mailbag here at Predlines, right?
The Predators sit atop the Central Division with their 30-10-5 record as they head into the All-Star break. Raise your hand if you had Nashville atop the division and second in the league standings headed into the break. Anybody sitting at their computer raising their hand? No? Didn’t think so. But boy has this been fun.
Enough rambling about the Preds success, even though I could rant for an hour, it is time for our mailbag.
First of all, Olli Jokinen and Viktor Stalberg are two totally different players. Stalberg is one of the fastest skater in the NHL while Jokinen is more of a finesse – battle along the boards and in front of the net – type player. Jokinen may not be jumping off of the score sheet this season but he has been impactfull, especially through the first 30 or so games of the season. Stalberg has simply been a head scratch type player since arriving in Nashville. Many thought he would strive in Laviolette’s system but he hasn’t been able to cement himself into the lineup. He’s also battled injuries this season.
Stalberg has three points for Nashville this year in 10 games; six points in six games with the Admirals. It’s just been a bad season for Stalberg. Could he find his stride and be a capable player for the Preds later on in the season (cough cough, in the playoffs)? Sure. We also could be seeing Stalberg simply not panning out. It will be interesting to see what happens with number twenty-five for the remainder of the season.
Nashville already has a decent backup goalie. Carter Hutton is capable of carrying this team with Pekka Rinne set to miss 3-5 weeks. If Rinne returns in exactly three weeks after his injury was announced, he will miss a total of eight games. Hutton and Marek Mazanec can carry this team to a .500 stretch or even winnings stretch during that time; of course they could also carry the Predators on a losing streak. Nevertheless Hutton is a decent back up goalie. The best backup in the business? Absolutely not, but he is decent. If you think he was the reason Nashville lost to the Montreal Canadiens last night you are sadly mistaken.
This is a fun one; most trade rumors involving an elite player are. Could the Predators use Phil Kessel, uh, yes. But, ‘is it or isn’t it’ I am going to say isn’t. With the Toronto Maple Leafs struggling in a major way there are loads of rumors circulating around the team but to trade away your best player and virtually implode the team is something I don’t see the Leafs doing. I think people automatically assume Nashville is interested in top players floating around in trade rumors due to the amount of cap space they have at the moment, but for a player like Kessel who’s contract pays him $8 mil this season and $10 mil the next two seasons it would be a big blow to the bank account. But, to play along in this game I would think if Toronto wanted to ship Kessel to Nashville they may ask for a Seth Jones, Craig Smith, and a pick type of package. Like I said, don’t see that happening.
I haven’t really noticed, at least in a considerable way, of Seth Jones mishandling the puck on the blue line this season. Lately he and Mattias Ekholm have been fantastic manning the blue line on the power play as a pairing. Jones is one of the best puck carrying d-men on the team. Gotta remember Jones is barely 20 years old and is still developing as a player. Looking back at last season there is no question that Jones has improved in a major way.
Thank you all for chirping at us to be a part of the first ever Predlines Mailbag. We will be doing another one soon so stay tuned for that.
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