The long wait of the offseason is finally over! The Nashville Predators will open up the 2017 preseason with a doubleheader vs. the Florida Panthers.
The Nashville Predators never tasted success like this before, and fans want more. The pre-season is finally here and most Predators fans are excited. But there is an air of nervousness. We’re all wondering if the Predators can prove that last season wasn’t a fluke and that we can expect many more magical runs through the postseason.
The Predators will open up the pre-season with the Panthers, but the focus will not be on the opponent. The focus will be on how the younger players perform and how the lines are put together. Avenging a two-game sweep at the hands of the Panthers last season should be motivation enough.
The New Captain
Perhaps the most exciting part of opening the preseason for the Nashville Predators is finally revealing the new captain. Mike Fisher is now in retirement, and the Predators haven’t rushed the decision. We should find out prior to the first preseason game, per James O’Brien of NBC Sports.
My belief remains that Roman Josi will be the new captain, and rightfully so. He consistently brings it on and off the ice, while representing the organization well as the face of the franchise. With that said, there are other worthy candidates that might get the nod, like Ryan Johansen.
It will be refreshing to see them come out with a clear identity and a new captain in charge. No one else makes more sense than Josi.
What to Expect vs. Panthers
Exhibition games are times to feel out the roster. We need to see how the Predators function without the likes of James Neal and Colin Wilson. Those losses are worrisome, even with the additions of Nick Bonino and Alexei Emelin. We likely won’t see Bonino in the preseason, per Adam Vingan of the Tennessean.
It will be very interesting to see how the defense initially shapes up with the absence of Ellis. We all know the defense is loaded with depth. But no one quite knows how the pairings will shape up. Josi and Emelin should be on the top line, with Mattias Ekholm and P.K. Subban on the second line. After that, it’s up for discussion.
Focusing on wins and losses is waste of time in this stretch. There are only six preseason games, and two of them will be against the Panthers. This is the time for a few players to push their way onto the roster, but there’s not much room for that to happen. Even with Ryan Ellis missing multiple months with injury, this roster is deep at all positions. That’s what is so impressive about what GM David Poile is building. Even with key injuries, this roster is stacked.
Expect a heavy dose of minor league standouts to try to work their way onto the roster that opens up the regular season on October 5th. The biggest takeaways will be how the lines are constructed and if anyone is capable of breaking out from Milwaukee.