Big cats are very good at laying concealed in the grass waiting for their prey and seemingly the Nashville Predators are doing the same thing. They are entering the final month of the off-season ready to quietly sneak up on the other top teams in the Central Division.
While it may seem locally that we had a busy off-season with key signings of Ribeiro and Fisher as well as additions in Barret Jackman and Cody Hodgson, in the big scheme of things in the NHL the Preds were kind of quiet from a national perspective.
They didn’t trade for marquee names like Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp or Phil Kessel. They didn’t sign the biggest name free agents like Matt Beleskey, Mike Green or Justin Williams. While their off-season wasn’t splashy enough for NHL headlines, it may have been exactly what they needed to build on their success from last year.
Going into the free agent frenzy I was hoping for two things. I felt we needed an upgrade on Anton Volchenkov and I really hoped we would take a flyer on Cody Hodgson. We hit on both. Barret Jackman will be a great influence on Seth Jones and Phil Housely is overjoyed to have him on the team. Hodgson is a low-risk; high reward signing that could really pay off.
They also kept their house in order by signing both Colin Wilson and Craig Smith, the young guns. They kept their two top line centers in Mike Fisher and Mike Ribeiro. It may have flown under the radar but Mike Ribeiro ending his legal problems with a settlement could be huge.
I was really impressed watching the Preds prospects at the recent camp. Kevin Fiala reminds me of what Filip Forsberg looked like at last year’s camp. I was pleasantly surprised by both Jimmy Vesey and Yakov Trenin, this year’s first pick. The future looks bright among the forwards.
In the meantime, our rivals in the Central: the Blues and the ‘Hawks both back pedaled a bit. In a salary purge, Chicago jettisoned both Saad and Sharp for younger prospects and still aren’t where they need to be with the cap. They were counting on getting Johnny Oduya back for their blue line but he spurned them to head for the Stars. Who knows about Patrick Kane? So while they still have their expensive core back their depth is taking a big hit and there is still work to do.
St. Louis was hoping to upgrade their speed in the offseason and that didn’t happen. They traded T.J. Oshie to the Caps for Troy Brouwer and prospects but only helped their cap situation a bit with that. Their biggest move was signing budding superstar Vlad Tarasenko to an eight year, $60 mil contract. They lost a little of their heart in Oshie and Jackman and I really don’t see any improvement.
Dallas was a team that made a big splash, adding three players with Stanley Cup pedigrees in Sharp, Oduya and Niemi. That certainly won’t hurt but I think they had more problems on defense than point scoring and I sure wouldn’t look at Johnny Oduya as my savior there. The loss of Trevor Daily may hurt too. They added Antti Niemi in goal but he may not even beat out Kari Lehtonen. A lot of money tied up in goaltenders there.
Minnesota focused their energy on resigning Devan Dubnyk and I don’t think that there is any possible way he can duplicate last year. They have a lot of money wrapped up in a few players and are counting on a lot of youngsters.
Colorado and Winnipeg are both a year and a few pieces away. They are in the toughest division in hockey and it will show by the end of the season.
The Preds have been quiet in a good way. They are lying in the grass waiting for their weakened prey to come by and pay a visit in October. We can hardly wait.
More from Predlines
- Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp Spotlight: Kiefer Sherwood
- Captain Candidates if Nashville Predators Didn’t Have Roman Josi
- The All-Time 25 Games or Less Nashville Predators Lineup
- Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp Spotlight: Cody Glass
- Joakim Kemell Flashes his Offense in Nashville Predators Loss to Tampa