Nashville Predators: The Predators Messed Up The Expansion Draft

(Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
(Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators were in a curious situation during the expansion draft. They sacrificed James Neal to keep Calle Jarnkrok, a controversial move.

Let me preface this by saying I really like Calle Jarnkrok. He’s a human swiss army knife who can do almost anything. He scores goals, assists well, wins faceoffs, kills penalties, and even plays on the power play. I thought Jarnkrok would finally get the chance to show his potential as a top-six center. Then the Nashville Predators brought in free agent Nick Bonino, and the situation became a little muddier. Jarnkrok is a superior center in regards to possession metrics and in the defensive zone. But, Bonino put up better point totals.

I understood why the Predators brought in Bonino. Shoring up the center depth was a big accomplishment and I knew that Jarnkrok would shine in his usual third line role. But then news came out that Jarnkrok would play fourth line center and now I’m second guessing the Predators management. Admittedly, something I haven’t done in quite some time. I understand why the Predators would start Bonino over Jarnkrok, but Colton Sissons? While I like Sissons, he’s not exactly an offensive dynamo. And one great playoff run does not a signal a great career, just ask Sean Bergenheim. Regardless, the question I’m left with is why would the Predators protect their fourth center over James Neal?

During The Expansion Draft

During the expansion draft, the possibility of acquiring Bonino wasn’t even alive. So I was happy when the list came out that said the Nashville Predators were going to protect Jarnkrok. Even if it meant sacrificing a perennial 20 goal scoring winger. We all knew that the expansion draft was going to hurt, but the Predators did a good job of avoiding most of the pain. I honestly believed that this team was better by keeping Jarnkrok.

During The Pre-Season

Nick Bonino, unfortunately, wasn’t able to play a single game during the pre-season, but he’s a known commodity. We know that he’s going to be a good middle six center for the Nashville Predators. Jarnkrok, much like Bonino, has at least proved he’s a great third line center. But now Sissons has stolen his spot on the third line… Why? Where is Sisson’s hype coming from? Sisson’s scored 10 points in 58 games last season while playing fourth line minutes while Jarnkrok scored 31 points in 81 games, while playing third line minutes. For reference, Sissons scored .17 points per game while Jarnkrok scored .38 per game. So don’t tell me that Jarnkrok isn’t a better scorer. I think Sissons might one day grab the second or third line spot, but he’s clearly not ready. He needs more time at the fourth center spot or maybe in a third line wing spot. The wing role would be good for him, especially considering that Pontus Aberg isn’t getting any playing time.

Plus the possession stats are quite telling. Jarnkrok consistently puts up average or better numbers even though he plays second line competition. Sissons couldn’t even put up average possession scores in the pre-season. THE PRE-SEASON! I guess we’ll see how Sissons plays with some better linemates and more ice time, although I’m nervous, to say the least.

Final Thought

Using the pre-season and playoffs as a reference is an extremely dangerous game. I was extremely disappointed to find out that the Nashville Predators were rolling with eight (nine with Ellis) defencemen instead of the normal seven. The Nashville Predators messed up the expansion draft by protecting their “fourth line center” over their great second line winger.

Next: We Have A Love/Hate Relationship With The Roster Cuts

Side note: What is Cody McLeod doing on the roster over Frederick Gaudreau? Austin Watson already does everything that McLeod does, and Watson actually scores! That seems like an easy move that the Predators missed on as well.