Losing Ryan Ellis for the first half of the season is going to hurt. But what does it mean for other Nashville Predators?
When an injury strikes, opportunity arises for young Nashville Predators. Luckily, there is depth in the team to manage a few. However, missing a player on defense that is so loved is not ideal. Who can carry the load?
Ryan Ellis‘ injury means that Alexei Emelin will move into the top four. Therefore someone must step into the third pair. I imagine that head coach Peter Laviolette will play it safe and start Matt Irwin and Anthony Bitetto. And while this may not be a bad third pair, it’s certainly not close to the top four.
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While the first four months will bring some pain for the Nashville Predators, they might find a gem. They should bring in some new blood from the AHL while Ellis is out. What’s the worst that can happen? It’s not like taking out Irwin, Bitetto, or Yannick Weber for a game will sink them. But who do they give the nod to?
Players who deserve the shot
There are three players who really deserve a shot in the big leagues. And let me say this before we go any further. These three players should get different amounts of games in the NHL. Those players are Alexandre Carrier, Trevor Murphy, and Samuel Girard.
Carrier is a wonderful puck moving defenseman who has made strides on his defensive game. His active stick is a blessing in the offensive and defensive zone. Still a young gun, the 20 year will look to put up over 40 points in a full season in the AHL. In my opinion, Carrier should pick up at least 20 games while Ellis is gone. Although there will be growing pains, the experience he’ll get will progress Carrier faster. Carrier is a future top four defender and this stint in the NHL will help him along the way.
Murphy is another young player who looks ready to make a dent in the NHL. He is a gifted offensive defenseman and skates extremely well. He’d be wonderful on the power play, but he most likely won’t get that time for obvious reasons. Murphy is undersized at 5’10 and 181 pounds, but his speed and agility makes up for it. He is a bit physical for his size and while that is fine in the minor leagues, I’m not sure that it will translate. Murphy should see 10-15 games in the NHL and shouldn’t look too bad on the third pair.
Girard is a good prospect, but he’s still one or two years out from the NHL. He’s looking to play his first full season in the AHL and I think he’ll do well. I expect at least 30 points from him and for him to make an impact on the power play. He’s extremely raw but possesses great stick skills. Girard should get anywhere from five-nine games in the NHL.
The biggest example is the soup line game from last season. Austin Watson turned a cup of coffee into an full NHL season and a three year contract. I could see Carrier or Murphy turning a few games into more than half a season.