Injuries are part of the game. How the vacancy left by Ellis is filled is what matters. The door is open for a prospect to make the Nashville Predators.
Hockey is a rough sport. Maybe the roughest, but at least in the conversation. And, as with all athletic activities, injuries happen. Vacancies come open and players are called upon to fill the void. That is where the Nashville Predators find themselves going into the season. There is a vacancy.
A major vacancy at that. One that will last for several months.
As training camp starts this week, the door is open for players to make a name for themselves. The time to prove the potential was worth selecting is now. Ryan Ellis is out. The Predators will need help on the blue line. They don’t need another Ellis, but they do not want a place-holder either.
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Could a prospect make the roster?
Anything is possible.
There are two strong candidates to fill in for Ellis. The first one that comes to mind for most Predators fans is Alexandre Carrier. The 5 foot 11 inch defenseman played well in a couple NHL games last season, though did not score a point. As part of the Milwaukee Admirals, Carrier was second on the team is assists (33). His time with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL, he established himself as a reliable scorer, with 137 points in four seasons. However, 130 of those points game in his last three seasons.
There is more in the Predators’ pipeline. Selected in the second round of the 2016 Entry Draft, Samuel Girard was among the last final players cut from the NHL roster last season. Like Carrier, Girard played significant minutes in the QMJHL. In three seasons, he accumulated 192 points, though only 24 came in the form of a goal.
An additional asset in terms of Girard is his motivation. Just check out this tweet from Nashville Predators Communication & Content Coordinator Brooks Bratten.
Are there other options? Certainly. Matt Irwin could see valuable minutes, as could Anthony Bitetto. But, with those players, the Predators know what they are going to get in terms of offense. The potential that Carrier and Girard show could move them to Nashville to start the season.
My pick would be Girard. While he is effective offensively, his instincts on defense are solid. He can play the puck and the body with relative ease, appearing active on every shift. He could be an interesting match with P.K. Subban.