Nashville Predators: The Second Line Is Coming Together

(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
(Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

One of the bigger questions for the Nashville Predators has been their second line. But they seem to be coming together after only a few days of camp.

A good second line is a necessity if a team wants to consider themselves a contender. Experts will rattle on about how a good one-two punch can beat most teams. And they’re right, at least to some degree. While the Nashville Predators will never have the Penguins top two lines, they’ll be at least more respectable this season. Ryan Johansen has blossomed into an elite center in the NHL, and he looks to continue what he started last season. Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg are no slouches either and should dominate. But the questions still linger about the second line. Well, it looks as if Head Coach Peter Laviolette has found his second line after a few days of camp. This is not to say that it won’t change during the season. But this is the line that’ll most likely start the season together.

Right Wing

Craig Smith wins out. Smith posted excellent possession stats even though he had another down year. The 28-year-old scored a mediocre 12 goals and 29 points in 78 games last season. He’ll need to contribute much more if he wants to keep his spot on the second line. Laviolette loves him, so expect Smith to get all the chances in the world. Smith is still in the prime of his career and his playmaking abilities will come in handy. The second line will be more offensive than last season, which will suit Smith’s abilities more. I think 40 points or more is reasonable as long as Smith stays healthy and receives steady second line minutes. The big question looming for the right wing spot is if Pontus Aberg plays his way off the third line. Smith has competition for his spot, but he seems up to the task.


Nick Bonino is coming in hot on the second line, just as everyone expected. Mike Fisher left a sizable hole when he retired, but I think Bonino will fill it just fine. Bonino had a decent season last year as he posted 18 goals and 37 points in 80 games. Not terribly impressive numbers until we take into account that he was playing third line minutes. I think 45 points is not at all unreasonable as he’ll get more five-on-five time, power play time, and penalty kill time. He doesn’t have great possession metrics and he’s more offensively inclined than Fisher. So while he may live by the goal, he’ll also die by the goal. I think Calle Jarnkrok might play his way into the second center role by the end of the season. But for now, Nick Bonino will be the steady hand at center.

Left Wing

Finally, a verdict after a long summer of speculation. The newly rehabbed Kevin Fiala will start on the left wing for the Nashville Predators. The speedy youngster looks to make his impact felt after an impressive post-season. Fiala had a quiet regular season with 11 goals and 16 points in 54 games. Although he received no special teams minutes and played on the third or fourth line. Fiala put up great possession stats even though he played garbage minutes and with less than impressive linemates. The sky is the limit for Fiala and I think he takes big strides towards reaching his potential this season. 50 points are my expectation, most of which will come from his speed. His speed will leave defenders in the dust and they won’t be able to cope. He just needs Bonino and Smith to keep up.

The Nashville Predators’ Second Line

What an eclectic bunch. There’s a speedster on the left, a two-way guy in the middle, and a playmaker on the right. These look like the ingredients for success, but will they pan out? It may take the line a few games to mesh, and so I hope Laviolette doesn’t rush them. All in all, I think this year’s second line is looking much better than last year’s. After a lot of speculation and rehab, it seems the Nashville Predators may have found their one-two punch.

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