Nashville Predators: Three Players That Need To Improve


The Nashville Predators are close to their Stanley Cup goal but need some more help from these three key contributors. 

The 2015-16 season for the Nashville Predators was a season filled with highs and lows. Nashville started the season off as one of the hot teams in the West. Then fizzled out to the point that the playoffs were not even anywhere close to the organization’s mindset.

Then, as you would see in a Hollywood movie, the Predators struck gold and went on the longest point streak in franchise history to help push them to the playoffs. A Game 7 loss in the second round to the San Jose Sharks was a tough way to exit but just four months prior, Nashville wasn’t in playoff contention.

If Nashville wants to take the next step and build upon last season’s results, they will need three key contributors to step up their game.

Mike Ribeiro

Mike Ribeiro might possibly be one of the most interesting players on the team. When he came to Nashville two years ago, they said he had attitude issues and was considered “cancerous” to a locker room.  In his first season in Nashville, Mike was the first line center and looked like the key player that we needed.

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Last season, Mike struggled and it looked like his ripe age of 35 had finally caught up with him. Luckily, Nashville traded for Ryan Johansen to help the aging Ribeiro slide down to the second line. When the playoffs hit, the rust showed. Mike was the worst player on the ice. He was even benched for rookie Pontus Aberg who had never even played a professional game.

In 2014-15, Mike had twice as many goals (15) and twelve more points (62) than he did last season. Ribs is playing on a line that includes Craig Smith and Filip Forsberg. There is absolutely no reason to struggle when you have talent like that around you.

Ribeiro will return to Nashville next season and can have a make or break season.

Colin Wilson

Mr. Playoffs himself is next on our list. The reason he is called Mr. Playoffs is because that is the only time that Colin Wilson shows up to play hockey.

In 2014, Colin came alive and helped led Nashville into the playoffs. Wilson was so extraordinary in 2014 that he was awarded a contract for 4 years, $15.25 million. Then last season happened. Let’s just take a look at the stats to show how big of a drop off he had after he had signed his contract.

2014-15: 20 goals, 22 assists, 42 points, 19 +/-

Playoffs: 6 GP, 5 goals, 0 assists, 5 points, -1 +/-

2015-16: 6 goals, 18 assists, 24 points, -1 +/- Playoffs

Playoffs; 14 GP, 5 goals, 8 assists, 13 points,

Colin Wilson is being paid way too much money to do poorly in the regular season. The only issue for Colin is that he is so good in the playoffs that it is almost worth dealing with his issues in the regular season. Colin Wilson has potential to be the top line LW but it seems as he can’t get going until the playoffs hit. Wilson needs to step up next season or his contract needs to be restructured.

Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) is removed from the game during the third period in game five of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) is removed from the game during the third period in game five of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Pekka Rinne

It is almost shocking to put the brick wall known as Pekka Rinne on this list. But even though he led us to the playoffs and two OT victories in the second round, he still needs to be way better than he was last season.

Statistically, last season was one of the worst seasons Pekka Rinne has had in his career. His 2.48 GAA was held over his head the entire season and it seemed as if he could not shake the stress of being mediocre last season. Pekka was even benched a few games because he could not build any momentum.

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Then, just like Colin Wilson, once the end of the season approached towards the playoffs, the real Pekka Rinne showed up. He led Nashville to a 2-0 series lead then marched them back to win the series after being down 3-2 against the Anaheim Ducks. He had his moments last season and then there were times where he couldn’t find a place to hide.

Nobody knows how long we will have Pekka Rinne. Even Pekka doesn’t know how long he and his body will be able to play this game. If last season was an indicator of his level of play from now on, then Nashville needs to look at Marek Mazanec or Juuse Saros in net very soon.

Pekka Rinne can easily turn last season woes into a magnificent season next year, but it needs to happen for this team to be successful.

Next: Can the Preds Contend in the Central?

Hopefully, these three key contributors can turn their play around and help lead the Nashville Predators to Stanley Cup contention next season.