Nashville Predators: Predators must cut roster to 23 by October Third

(Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Danny Murphy/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators have a roster of 26 skaters as of Sunday, October first. Three skaters have to go, but which players? Young guns or worse veterans.

Before I get too far into the specifics, there’s a bit of an update. Right now the Nashville Predators only need to drop two players as Ryan Ellis‘ injury will keep him off the roster. So that’s good news for some younger players, most specifically Samuel Girard. But bad news for the Predators as they’ll certainly miss Ellis’ point production.

There’s an argument for cutting the young guns and the older vets. What I mean is that while the young guns show promise, they need more seasoning and aren’t prepared for a full NHL season. While the veterans are less exciting but are a known quantity who Peter Laviolette can “trust”. So the Nashville Predators need to cut two players by the third, but who do they cut? For the sake of argument let’s assume they’ll cut one defenseman and one forward. But which ones?

The Forwards On The Bubble

There’s not a lot of fat that deserves cutting at this point of the season. Almost everyone could probably play on an NHL roster from this forward corp. But alas, at least one forward has to go. There are two candidates in my mind, Vladislav Kamenev, and Cody McLeod.

Kamenev is the young up-and-comer on the block, and the next great hope at center. He has had a mediocre pre-season as far as points go with two secondary assists. But he’s been getting tough minutes in a top-six role, a role he won’t receive in the regular season. The good news is that while in the top six role, he posted an average 50 Corsi and a 51.38 Fenwick. Also, a stat to not overlook is that when Kamenev is on the ice, his team scored four goals and gave up none. Not a coincidence if you watch how hard Kamenev back checks. The main issue is that Kamenev is young and unproven. He also looks lost at times in both zones but a full season in the NHL will help him figure that out.

I may catch hate for this but I don’t care, enforcers do nothing for today’s game and Mcleod is almost useless. Unless you like taking penalties and bad defensive zone coverage. Then, Cody McLeod is your man. He’s a possession black hole but at least he hits when he doesn’t have the puck? I should mention what he does well though. McLeod is a great penalty killer and he does, in fact, hit everything that moves, plus he fights. So he has that going for him.

The Defencemen On The Bubble

Once again, I think both of these players could easily fit into the opening night line-up. But that’s not what we’re talking about, we’re talking about who has to go. In this case, I think Samuel Girard or Yannick Weber are the ones on the block.

Girard has come out of nowhere to be the number one defensive prospect for the Nashville Predators. Not an easy task with a prospect pool including Alexandre Carrier, Jack Dougherty, and Dante Fabbro. But the young offensively minded defenseman has shown signs of being a top-two guy. He posted a 60.77 Corsi and a 60.23 Fenwick over the pre-season. Both are great scores and show how good Girard is at generating shots. He clearly needs help in his own zone but he’s learning fast. He’s in a precarious place though. He’s too young to play in the AHL and so he’ll have to go to the QMJHL unless he plays in the NHL. While I don’t think he’s ready for a full NHL season, I’m not sure how much good another year in the juniors will do him.

Yannick Weber is Yannick Weber. Nothing more, nothing less. Moreso less than more but he’s a serviceable seventh defenseman. He isn’t too much of a liability in his own zone but he won’t produce in the offensive zone. This doesn’t have much to do with Weber but I thought, before the pre-season, that Anthony Bitetto might be worse. But I was pleasantly surprised, Bitetto has earned his place on the third pair/seventh defenseman spot. Weber is a different story though.

Who I Think Should Make The Opening Roster

Let’s all take a moment to remember how much I favor youth and potential over veteran experience. Now that we know that, my two picks shouldn’t surprise anyone. I think Kamenev and Girard should start on the roster.

Kamenev should start on the fourth line in a wing spot so that he can adapt to a faster paced regular season game. He’s also waiver exempt and may be sent back to the AHL at any time. And if Kamenev is sent down, Miikka Salomaki, Colton Sissons, and Frederick Gaudreau could easily step into his role on the fourth line. Kamenev has proven all that he has needed to in the AHL and he looks ready to finally hit the NHL.

I feel like I say this all the time, but… Good young defensemen are hard to come by, unless you’re the Nashville Predators. Girard, like Kamenev, is waiver exempt but will go the juniors rather than the AHL.  I think Girard should get his nine games in the NHL to test his mettle before he goes down. He definitely deserves it after a great pre-season.His possession and shot generation metrics are astounding and he should be rewarded.

Who Will Most Likely Make The Opening Roster

My delusions about Kamenev making the roster will be over in a few days. We all know that McLeod will get the spot because he brings “intangibles” and toughness. I think the group of Subban, Josi, Johansen, Forsberg, Ellis, and Rinne have enough “intangibles” to go around. Plus Austin Watson can drop the gloves whenever he’s challenged. Not only that, but Watson can actually score and contribute on the penalty kill. But McLeod will get the spot for his veteran leadership and take a spot from a player who could actually use the playing time to help the Predators.

The defense is a totally different story. I really do think that Girard will make the opening day roster, barring any sort of injury. He’s getting better every game and while he’ll hit a wall in the regular season, he deserves the chance to at least get to that wall. And when Girard heads back to the QMJHL, Bitetto and Irwin will be able to step in. I’m in favor of rewarding his good play with some NHL minutes though.

Next: What To Do With Alexandre Carrier

The next three days will be very telling of what direction the Nashville Predators are heading in.