Nashville Predators Third and Fourth Lines


Did you ever think you would hear that the Nashville Predators may have more good forwards than they know what to do with?  That might actually be the case this year.  The Kiddie Corp is about ready to step up and we still have some veterans that are necessary players.

Just about everyone agrees that the first two lines are pretty well established.  Mike Ribeiro, Filip Forsberg and James Neal really clicked last year and will return. That leaves the second line of Mike Fisher, and the newly signed RFAs Craig Smith and Colin Wilson.  Lavy may switch a few back and forth when someone gets the hot hand but the two lines will be fairly stable.

The bottom two lines is where it might get really crazy.  Depending on who you believe there could be anywhere from eight to eleven players fighting for those six spots.  I think that two of them are pretty straight forward.  David Poile brought Cody Hodgson in as the third line center and hopes that he does well enough that he pushes Fisher back to that line so that he doesn’t have to play as many minutes.

Paul Gaustad is a given as the fourth line center. He isn’t there to be a big scorer, he of the magic stick in the circle will be the main faceoff man in the defensive zone and at the end of the game when they need a faceoff win.  He also plays well on the penalty kill and when they need to protect a lead at the end of a game.  His spot is a no-brainer.

In my mind that leaves Kevin Fiala, Calle Jarnkrok, Eric Nystrom, Steve Moses, Gabriel Bourque, Austin Watson and Viktor Arvidsson for the other four spots.  That doesn’t even count Mikko Salamaki, Pontus Aberg, and Colton Sissons who will all get a cup of coffee look and will have to really be unbelievably impressive during training camp to have a chance to stick around.

One of the problems that the Predators had last year was a lack of scoring from their third line. Laviolette will want to give Cody Hodgson every chance to fulfill his scoring potential by surrounding him with youngsters that can put the puck in the net.

I think that first one will be Kevin Fiala.  He reminds me so much of the way the Filip Forsberg came into his own last year and became the young star that he is.  No one thought that going into training camp Prince Filip would be the player he has turned out to be.  I don’t expect Fiala to duplicate that but I think he will be something special right away and can make Hodgson look good with his playmaking abilities.

The other side will be Calle Jarnkrok, Steve Moses or Austin Watson.  Although Watson led Milwaukee with 26 goals last year I think he will just miss and start the season back with the Admirals with his two-way contract. Moses played the last three years for Jokerit and led the KHL last year with 36 goals. He is small but speedy and knows how to find the back of the net.

Jarnrok will be moved to wing to make room for Hodgson. When he played after the trade for David Legwand he had 9 points in his 12 games last year.  His 18 points in 74 was a little disappointing but he can provide a defensive presence on this line and allow Hodgson and Fiala to make some magic. He has to play somewhere because he does a nice job on the penalty kill and can chip in a few goals too. He beats out Moses.

More from Editorials

So that makes my third line, Hodgson with Fiala and Jarnkrok on the wings.  I’m going to drop Moses back to the fourth line with Gaustad and Gabby Bourque to chip in some scoring on that line and teaming with Bourque’s speed will give opposing lines fits.  I’m not sure what to do with Eric Nystrom. The fourth line may have played a little better at the end of the year when he sat out 20 games .

Bourque will be counted on to score more than his 3 goals from last year and having Moses on the wing may help with that. He does other things well though as he is always giving 100 percent and throwing his body around the ice to annoy the other teams.   He chips in on the penalty kill too and those kind of guys are invaluable.

Everyone will have to play hard and keep chipping in though as there is plenty of talent like Viktor Arvidsson waiting in the wings. We haven’t even mentioned the two young Russians, Yakov Trenin who really impressed me during the prospect game and Vladisav Kamenev.  They aren’t far off from helping this team either.  All in all, it’s a nice problem to have and it takes a lot of depth to be successful all season.

Next: Trading Shea Weber

More from Predlines