Nashville Predators: The Roster Logjam Is An Easy Fix

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

The Nashville Predators boast an extremely talented roster. But now there’s a bit of a logjam, although the solution is an easy one.

I know that I can come off as smug and almost elitist at times, and I apologize for it. But it’s only because I feel so passionate about the opinions I have, for better or worse. This serves as a bit of a disclaimer because the opinions I’m about to express might belittle some complex situations. So, if you don’t like it, that’s totally fine. With all of this being said, here’s my fix for the Nashville Predators’ roster logjam.

The situation at hand

Yannick Weber is now a resident of the IR alongside Ryan Ellis, taking two of the Nashville Predators’ defensemen off the ice for a while. While Ellis may have a larger impact than Weber, it still is terrible to lose any player to injury. The Nashville Predators now have seven healthy defensemen on the roster, a normal number in the NHL. But what about when those two come back? Then there will be nine and two roster players will have to go.

P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, and Ryan Ellis aren’t going anywhere, especially on waivers. So that leaves Samuel Girard, Yannick Weber, Matt Irwin, and Anthony Bitetto on defense. The most important fact that’ll influence this decision is that Samuel Girard can get sent down to the QMJHL without going through waivers. Whereas the other three will go through waivers and have the possibility of being claimed by other teams.

Who should go down

First of all, Sam Girard shouldn’t even sniff the QMJHL. He’s proven that he’s ready for the NHL and can handle the minutes.  Irwin has performed admirably on the third pair, though he didn’t look good with first line minutes. As terrible as it may sound, Weber really has no place on this team anymore. The same goes for Bitetto. Girard has proven that he’s a top-four defenceman and Irwin has proven that he’s capable of playing on the third pair every night.

As terrible as this sounds, would it actually be a bad thing to lose Weber and Bitetto? The question gets a bit easier when you realize there are more than capable replacements in the AHL. Jack Dougherty and Alexandre Carrier are ready and willing to make the jump to the NHL at any time.  Though without injury, Carrier and Dougherty would still spend the majority of the season in the AHL.My absolutely healthy lineup looks like:





Obviously Irwin, Girard, and Emelin will play platoon style and swap when Laviolette sees fit. Though Girard should play most games.

What will probably happen

There’s no such thing as fun in the NHL and coaches rarely, if ever, make bold moves. So expect Girard to get sent down while the third line gets picked apart by coaches who know match-ups. My general sense is to play the best players available and worry about the contracts when the time comes. Does it really make a difference if Girard must be re-signed in three years rather than four? No, it doesn’t. If a team is truly doing their best to win, they should be icing their best lineup every night. It’s because general managers and coaches don’t want to lose “good locker room guys” who make no real impact on the ice. Weber, Bitetto, and Irwin have no business being on this team while players like Girard sit in the minors or juniors. Let alone on the same roster.

Peter Laviolette will most likely send Girard down once Weber comes back. Gaudreau will most likely stay up, which is well earned in my opinion. Sending Girard down is just a measure to ensure that Yannick Weber or Anthony Bitetto doesn’t leave the team. I’m sorry, but if this happens then that’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s bad enough that players with loads of potential like Carrier or Dougherty have to sit behind plugs, but for an NHL ready player like Girard to do so? That’s almost inexcusable.

Once again, the solution

If I was general manager, my moves would be pretty simple. Waive Cody McLeod and Anthony Bitetto immediately, then waive Yannick Weber once Ellis returns. Meanwhile, bring up Vladislav Kamenev and Alexandre Carrier, and possibly Dougherty if more injuries occur. My line-up woud look something like this:





Platoon Gaudreau and Salomaki with Kamenev




Platoon entire third pair with Irwin

Are we going to pretend that adding Yannick Weber makes this line-up better? Is there an argument that McLeod is necessary when Watson can do his job better, as well as actually play real hockey? There shouldn’t even be a discussion, but poor assest management has led to it.

Next: Girard's Play Could Force A Trade

The solution for the roster logjam is an easy one, and although I went on a tangent or two, my points still stand. The main issue is that these require some tough in-person conversations that Laviolette and David Poile don’t want to make. The Nashville Predators are already a good team, but they could be so much better. I hate to see this team waste it’s time and cup window.