Nashville Predators: How Kyle Turris Fits Into Predators’ Center Brigade

(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
(Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators welcome a new center. Kyle Turris comes from Ottawa with great expectations. Can he take Nashville’s offense to the next level.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Odds are that if there’s a big NHL trade, the Nashville Predators are involved somehow. I suppose there is one surprising part. After a couple of years of rumors of Matt Duchene heading to Nashville, he’s heading to Ottawa instead.

The Nashville Predators still added a new center to the fold. Kyle Turris, former alternate captain of the Ottawa Senators & third overall pick of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft by the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, arrived as part of the trade. He’s signing a six-year contract worth $3 million, so we can go ahead and start making the merchandise.

There was a time (most of the franchise’s existence) where center wasn’t exactly a logjam of talent for Nashville. There was Mike Fisher and not a whole lot else. Adding Ryan Johansen finally gave the Predators more credibility when it came to the center position, but the depth was still thin. Since last season, the Predators lost Fisher, but gained Nick Bonino & Kyle Turris.

So what happens now? The absence of Bonino has led to all kinds of line shuffling by head coach Peter Laviolette. The results have been mixed so far, but the last two games have shown some promise. What can we expect going forward?

First line center: Ryan Johansen

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This one’s still a no-brainer. Johansen’s slow start has been discussed ad nauseam, but he’s going to work his way out of it. His Corsi & Fenwick numbers are still best on the team even in this dry spell. As successful as JoFA has been, it seems like there’s something to the combination of Scott Hartnell & Johansen on the ice. I don’t feel like lines should be married to each other, so there’s no reason why you can’t use a rotation of Hartnell, Filip Forsberg & Viktor Arvidsson with Johansen.

Second line center: Kyle Turris

Nashville’s deficiency on offense has been a weakness thus far. Turris has scored over twenty goals in three seasons. He excels at helping his teammates, as he’s scored more assists than goals every season in the NHL. Men like Craig Smith & Kevin Fiala often find a home on the second line will benefit from his presence. The idea of Turris paired with Forsberg is quite tantalizing as well.

I’d like to see some of that in Predators gold, wouldn’t you?

Third line center: Nick Bonino

Bonino made his bones on the Pittsburgh Penguins’ third line behind Sidney Crosby & Evgeni Malkin for two successful seasons. Five games isn’t enough to tell whether or not he can be a top-six player. For right now, there’s no problem putting him in a spot he’s used to occupying. The third line has seen a lot of different faces thus far, and I figure Peter Laviolette will move plenty of parts around to figure out what works with Bonino.

Honestly, I trust Laviolette’s judgment more than mine. That’s probably the worst thing a columnist can say, but I have to be honest. I’m sure I’ll have plenty of ideas once we see Bonino play for an extended period of time. Until then, I’m not going to complain too much.

Once you get past the top three, you enter into a bit of a quagmire. Calle Jarnkrok is the man who Predators management felt was worth keeping over James Neal. Colton Sissons helped Nashville through some thin times during the playoffs. Frederick Gaudreau is everybody’s favorite youngster. Unless the Nashville Predators decide they’re doing to have six lines, something will have to give.

Fourth line center: Colton Sissons

Sissons is the kind of player that fits in well in a fourth line setting. Gaudreau doesn’t strike me as a physical fourth line type of guy at all. He’s probably a fringe roster guy right now that will see more time in the press box than on the ice. His time will come. Jarnkrok’s time might be better spent on one of the top lines as a winger. If nothing else, it will take some pressure off. Fans can stop complaining about how James Neal was let go for a third or fourth line center. Put Jarnkrok with Turris or Bonino and let them feed him the puck. Sissons can hang around down here with the likes of Austin Watson, Mikka Salomaki & probably Cody McLeod from time to time.

Next: A trade finally happened!

The Nashville Predators ran out of centers during last season’s Stanley Cup playoff run. The addition of Kyle Turris makes that unlikely to happen again. It’s too early to say whether or not Turris is the final piece to the puzzle. One thing is for sure, if he isn’t, David Poile won’t wait too long to find the next piece.