The Nashville Predators are currently within 0.5 points of their average points-per-game, per season, during the Peter Laviolette era. Considering the current underperformance of nearly every forward, it’s entirely expected that their average will quickly return to its normal trajectory.
Here’s my main point: if the Nashville Predators as a whole are producing as well without James Neal’s cap hit, there isn’t an issue in losing him to Vegas. The extra cap space has proved valuable already, with the acquisition of Nick Bonino and Kyle Turris. Yes, both players are untested in this lineup. However, after last year’s postseason, David Poile would be making a huge mistake had he not addressed the lack of center depth.
To reiterate: I’m not trying to criticize anyone for missing James Neal on this roster. His intangible value was considerable; he was a fan favorite during his tenure in Nashville. Additionally, with his white-hot start as a Vegas Golden Knight, it’s easy to look westward and wonder why we let him go in the first place.
Give it time, though. In terms of value for money, Calle Järnkrok is at least as good an option, if not better. Especially with the acquisition of Kyle Turris, Järnkrok’s responsibilities as a center may decrease substantially. That will open him up to more scoring chances as his defensive expectations decrease.
I am happy to have Calle Järnkrok as a member of this roster. It is the strongest roster in franchise history, and will continue to be for several more seasons.