Nashville Predators: The Forward Corp With Possible Injuries

(Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images)
(Photo by Codie McLachlan/Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators have bit hit hard by injuries this offseason. The worst injury on the forwards being projected second line center, Nick Bonino.

Injuries can derail entire seasons and post-seasons sometimes. What if Ryan Johansen had been healthy in the Stanley Cup Final? I can almost guarantee you that the Nashville Predators wouldn’t have fallen to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games. Maybe in seven games but in our minds, it’s fun to imagine that the Predators would win. But the past is over and there’s no going back, only forward. So going forward, what does the Predators opening night forward line-up look like? While Kevin Fiala looks healthy as a horse, the other notably injured forward, Nick Bonino didn’t play a second of the pre-season. Big news considering that the Predators consider him their second line center.

Let’s all remember that Bonino broke his tibia in the playoffs last season, yet played through. The Nashville Predators knew how bad his injury was when they signed him and are willing to be patient. Rightfully so in my opinion as rushing back a player in today’s game can have terrible consequences. So what does the forward line-up look like on Thursday night without Bonino? Let’s take a look.

The Top Six

In my extremely humble opinion, here’s my top six.

Kevin FialaRyan JohansenFilip Forsberg

Viktor ArvidssonCalle JarnkrokCraig Smith

Wow, what a top six, probably the best top six the Nashville Predators have ever had. If Bonino was playing, I’d actually switch Fiala and Arvidsson though. I really like the JoFA line and I don’t think splitting them up is a great idea. But Arvidsson is a great play driver and he gives that second line an edge that more teams will have to take seriously. Fiala on the top line will also help his development as he gets more talented linemates, no offense to Smith and Jarnkrok. Jarnkrok would be a fine replacement, although he doesn’t have the offensive punch that Bonino has. Although Jarnkrok is a better two-way center who dominates in his own zone and according to possession metrics.

The Bottom Six

This is where Bonino’s injury will hurt the most. Jarnkrok leaves a big hole on the third line center and there’s not a proven player to fill it. Anyways, here are my bottom six.

Scott HartnellFrederick GaudreauPontus Aberg

Austin WatsonVladislav KamenevMiikka Salomaki

extra- Colton Sissons

I know that Scott Hartnell has played wonderfully in the pre-season, but I still don’t think he should have a spot on the top six. Older power forwards tend to decline pretty hard and I think sheltered third line and power play minutes suit him better. Frederick Gaudreau is a huge wildcard in my opinion. He’s unproven and while I do think he will be a useful bottom six center, growing pains are inevitable. Pontus Aberg started the pre-season slowly but has earned his spot on the third line. Expect him to play on the second line at times during the season, but not immediately.

The fourth is the wild west of the Nashville Predators lineup. Austin Watson is a lock for the it though. He’s exactly what all coaches want from their “tough guy”, he can hit, fight, kill penalties, and even chip in on offense on occasion. He’s not moving from that spot unless there’s an injury. Miikka Salomaki spent the majority of last season on the LTIR, but he’s made quite the comeback. While he almost seemingly beat out Pontus Aberg for the third line, I think his physical style is a better fit for the fourth. Having Watson and Salomaki on the same line will bruise a lot of defenders.

Now, onto my controversial pick. Kamenev should get a few games at center on either the fourth or third line, depending on how Gaudreau plays. Kamenev is young, but he’s the future of the center group. He could easily steal that second center line spot from Jarnkrok and Bonino as early as next year.

What Happens When Bonino Returns

What a fun position the Nashville Predators are in. Their good second center is out and so they’re going to put in another good second center, while also putting in an excellent prospect on the roster. Of course, Colton Sissons might get the nod, but Kamenev has earned the spot in my opinion.

The depth chart will get pushed back once Bonino returns. My line-up then will look like





Extra- Sissons

Next: Likely Predators To Be Cut On October 3rd

I think Kamenev will return to the AHL once Bonino returns, rather than Sissons. Kamenev could use the prime minutes in the AHL more than Sissons could. Either way, The Nashville Predators are sitting pretty. Let’s hope Bonino returns soon!