The Nashville Predators will host the 2016 All-Star game. We predict who will play from the Preds.
On Saturday, the NHL announced the captains for the 2016 All-Star Game aptly, in my opinion, being held right here in Nashville, Tennessee at Bridgestone Arena on January 31, 2016. Not only will this be a great opportunity to showcase why Nashville is such a fabulous city but it will also give us hockey fans living in the south further opportunity to solidify the fact that we’re not all about college football – or, football in general – and we take our hockey and our Predators quite seriously.
MORE PredLines – 16 Predictions for 2016
With a series of 3 on 3 games played between the divisional All-Star teams which include 6 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 2 goalies, leaving only 11 All-Star spots in the Central which the Predators are a part of. Who will make it? Who should make it? Let’s discuss, shall we?
Defensemen. One really can’t speak of anything having anything to do with All-Star without immediately throwing out the name of the man behind the slapshot heard ‘round the world, Captain Shea Weber. Can anyone argue that Weber is not absolutely and wholly worthy of a coveted spot on the team? I think not. Weber has 11 goals and 15 assists in 39 games so far this season and scored his first career hat trick, on December 5, 2015, in a hard-fought matchup against the Detroit Redwings. He is elite in his position and works incredibly well alongside fellow lineman, Roman Josi.
Let’s be honest here, the likelihood of more than one defensive selection coming from Nashville is slim, at best, but my other worthy nominee would be said fellow Weber lineman, Roman Josi. With 39 games played, Josi is midway through the season carrying 9 goals and 20 assists with him and leads the team in points. As a defenseman. If Weber is the current face of the Predators franchise, Josi is the future. Here’s where the fine line between who should make the All-Star team and who will make the All-Star team grays a little. Should Josi earn a selection? Absolutely. Will veteran Preds defenseman Shea Weber actually get the selection? Yep.
Offense. I’m not going to go into whether or not Nashville has or needs a center here. We all know the answer so for the purposes of All-Star selection I’m going to work with what I have. That being said, my choices for offensive selection would be James Neal and Filip Forsberg. Now, while I certainly don’t think anyone would argue that the Predators’ best bet for All-Star representation lies with its Dmen, Neal and Forsberg are worthy of a look.
With 24 points at the mid-season mark, James Neal is but another example of why I kind of think Preds GM David Poile knows what he’s doing when it comes to this whole trade thing. Nashville lacks depth in its offensive structure, no argument there, but Neal is a force to be reckoned with on the ice and is considerably ahead of fellow offensive players in goals scored. Filip Forsberg is a close second choice, however. I think we’re beginning to see Forsberg emerging from the dreaded sophomore slump – he is tied with Shea Weber in points at 26 – and he was also part of Nashville’s presence at the 2015 All-Star Game.
If Nashville can overcome considerable odds, that are not in their favor and have offensive representation, who gets the selection? Should it be James Neal? Yes. Will it be Forsberg? Probably.
Goaltending. Lastly, but probably the easiest case to argue is goaltending. Carter Hutton is probably not going to make the All-Star team as a backup goalie and Juuse Saros is, well, not eligible so that leaves him out too. Pekka Rinne, it is! Was anyone not devastated that injury prevented Rinne from playing last year in a so incredibly deserved role? That alone is worthy of inclusion this year in my opinion. Some would argue that Rinne is not his usual “self” and are very quick to blame when the goals are all tallied up at the end of any given game and don’t come out with the Predators on top. I have seen Rinne perform saves that are almost otherworldly and not human. The man is legendary in his role. There is no argument – and, believe me, I’ve thought about this – that can be made against Rinne’s inclusion in the 2016 All-Star game. Should Rinne get a selection? Yes. Will he? Yes. That is all.
The 2016 All-Star game will likely be a once in a lifetime experience for a lot of us. Jaromir Jagr is convinced he’s going to die at the hands of John Scott, we’ll all get to see first-hand how Patrick Kane does at “captain-ing” his own team and bask in the presence of the greatness that is Alex Ovechkin. Can. Not. Wait.