Nashville Predators: Cody McLeod Has No Place On A Winning Team

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 01: Cody McLeod /

Why are we talking about Cody McLeod in 2017? Because the Nashville Predators keep making the mistake of putting him in the line-up.

I know that I lost a lot of people with my title, let alone the bolded text above. But seriously, it’s 2017, there’s no excuse for having Cody McLeod in the line-up. McLeod is the last of a dying breed that no longer serve a purpose in today’s NHL. We can go back in time and talk about the Broad Street Bullies and Dave Semenko and the enforcers of old., but that’s where they belong: the past.

The hot issue of keeping McLeod in the line-up has haunted the Nashville Predators’ fanbase for the last few months. The argument is that McLeod brings grit, a great work ethic, and certain intangibles that can’t be tracked by stats. While the other side argues that grit doesn’t come from fighting and that putting a more capable scorer makes more sense than a fighter. I’ve always looked at it the same way; put in the players that will help you score more goals than your opponents. But this argument really isn’t that complex.

Like all arguments, there are some passionate feelings, cold-hearted stats, and some bad counter-arguments. I will address the most common arguments I’ve ever heard.


I’m sure that McLeod is a great guy and a good presence in the locker room. You don’t make it to the NHL in a depth role if you’re a menace. But at what point are we just making excuses? We’ve all had a friend or co-worker who was less than adequate at his/her job but we overlooked it because we liked them. This is the exact case with McLeod as we’ll literally make up reasons to keep him on the roster.

I love the intangibles argument because I’ve seen leaders like Jarome Iginla and Doug Weight lead their teams to greatness. But let’s not pretend that what McLeod says holds remotely similar water to what Roman Josi or P.K. Subban says. Pekka Rinne probably has more of a voice in that locker room than McLeod does, but that’s just a guess and I prefer to stick to facts.


People will look at my facts and say, “that’s not why he’s out there!” or, “he’s a fighter, not a scorer!”. Which is fine, we’ll get to that later, but let’s start with some very simple stats. McLeod has one assist in 14 games and three shots to boot. He also has 35 hits and six shots blocked. Good numbers except when you remember that the other team has to have possession of the puck to be hit. The craziest part is that McLeod has 62 penalty minutes in 97 minutes. By the way, he only averages six and a half minutes per game. What impact could any player make with that ice time? Although, in fairness, the Nashville Predators have spent a lot of time on the power play and penalty kill, both of which McLeod isn’t capable of playing on.

Now onto my “beloved advanced stats”! I know that I’ll lose a lot of “traditional fans” with this part, but in for a penny, in for a pound, eh? McLeod owns a 41.62% Corsi and a 43.97% Fenwick at five on five, even though he receives somewhat sheltered minutes. He actually starts in the offensive zone 48.08% of the time, which isn’t easy or hard. But it’s pretty close to average and he rarely plays against top nine talent. My favorite part of the entire equation is that McLeod is actually extremely lucky. He’s riding a PDO of 104 with a high shooting percentage as well as incredible goaltending! Even though he only has one assist, I’m not sure that’s sustainable. Which sounds absolutely crazy, but it’s true.

McLeod’s a negative player in every metric possible. He’s negative in scoring chances, high danger scoring chances, and goals. I can’t think one decent reason that he’s still on this team. When I say that phrase, this is what I hear back from his fans…

But he fights!

Enforcers fight to keep the peace or to get his team going, that’s the way it’s always been. Credit to McLeod, he still drops the gloves often and with great fervor. But he’s not the same player-or fighter- that he used to be. According to, McLeod has engaged in four fights during the young season.

What you’ll notice is that he’s one and three. He’s currently “winning” 25% of his fights, and the victory was against Stephen Johns, who’s not exactly known for fighting. Credit to McLeod, taking Johns off the ice for five minutes was probably the best thing he’s done all season for the Nashville Predators, as they scored a timely goal with Johns in the sin bin.

The left wing spot would be better filled by Aberg or Gaudreau. Players that can actually generate a shot per game.

Addressing arguments

I know a few arguments in favor of McLeod and so I will address them now.

Teams were taking liberties with Josi and he sustained a bad concussion against the Bruins. The next day McLeod was brought over and now Josi no longer gets taken advantage of.

First off, correlation doesn’t equal causation or else I have a pretty solid argument that climate change is caused by a decrease in pirates worldwide. As pirates plundered the seas, there was no climate change, but now that there are very few pirates roaming those very same seas, the climate is acting alarmingly. In a more serious tone, Roman Josi likes to jump into the offensive zone and behind the net a lot. When he puts himself in that situation, he opens himself up to hits which can cause concussions. Some doctors have even said a hard hit to the stomach has a large chance of causing concussions, so just playing hockey puts him at risk.

Having McLeod patrol the ice for six minutes a night won’t stop the opposition from putting the body on Josi, as that’s a normal part of hockey. If an unfortunate hit happens, it probably won’t be on purpose and won’t demand “street justice”.

Who will fight if McLeod isn’t on the roster?

Austin Watson is the perfect example of a modern day tough guy. He can fight, hit, block shots, kill penalties, and chip in with some offense every once in a while. Plus the Austin 3:16 jokes are way better than any McLeod pun I’ve ever heard.

Why do you hate fighting?

I actually like fighting and I think it has a place in the NHL, but fighting can exist without enforcers. Fun fact, the first ever hockey game ended in a fight, and I believe the tradition should live on. Just not with staged fights. Sacrificing a roster spot to accommodate a guy who can barely play at the NHL level is a terrible mistake.

Fights like Jacob Trouba vs Sam Bennet serve a purpose of releasing anger in ways that don’t involve dirty hits or stick infractions. If two players fight, it should happen because they’re angry, not because they’re paid to fight. This isn’t the UFC.

Who would better fill that fourth line spot?

Literally anyone in the Nashville Predators organization. Players like Emil Pettersson could make the jump to the NHL or even Frederick Gaudreau could fill that role well. Fighting is and always will be a part of hockey, but enforcers are not. They’re going the way of the dodo and frankly, it can’t happen soon enough in my opinion.

People will say that having McLeod in the line-up is protection, which is fine if people were actually taking liberties. If the NHL was really the wild west with stars being run every night, how come Sidney Crosby is still playing in the NHL today? He’s a prime candidate, he already has a number of concussions and he’s the best player of his generation. All it’d take is one bad hit from McLeod or one of the “rats” as Brian Burke put it, and the Penguins would lose their star forever. But it doesn’t happen. Now you can argue that Ryan Reaves is policing the other teams, but who was the guardian when they won back to back cups? Great teams don’t need a tough guy, because their play talks for itself.

Next: The Scandinavian Shot Suppression Twins

If you hate my opinion, I understand. But just know that the stats can explain Cody McLeod, they just paint him as he is, an anchor on the Nashville Predators.