There is no doubting the Nashville Predators have a talent-filled roster. With battles for playing time coming, Pontus Aberg needs to shine.
I often compare the Nashville Predators to the Chicago Cubs. Part of this is because I have been a fan of the Cubs for 30 years, and started my writing career for a Cubs’ site. But, the two teams are extremely similar. Sure, their fanbases are among the most passionate in their respective sport. But it is their roster construction where I see the most commonalities.
Both are loaded with talent. Where the Cubs have depth in the outfield and players that can fill multiple spots, the Predators now hold depth at center. Plus, players like Colton Sissons able to play center or wing really well.
With the great depth, there are players – talented one at that – who struggle to find playing time. Maybe it is because of the talent of the players ahead of them, or the fact those lower on the depth chart do not always perform up to expectations. Either way, young talent is sometimes squeezed out.
Right now, Pontus Aberg is looking at limited action. Unless he starts to catch fire.
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Now, it is not totally Aberg’s fault. Adding Kyle Turris created a larger log-jam on the offense. Nick Bonino gets moved to third line, meaning Calle Jarnkrok gets pushed to the fourth. Then, Scott Hartnell‘s injury opened up a winger spot. Austin Watson and Miikka Salomaki showed they are deserving of time.
And Aberg struggled. The Predators sent him back to Milwaukee for a conditioning assignment. When he came back, he started to get noticed. Especially in the last three games.
His CorsiFor and Fenwick ratings are not great. In eight games since his return, Aberg only achieved 50% or higher in Corsi or Fenwick three times. However, the Nashville Predators have 11 high danger opportunities while Aberg is on the ice in those games. He finally notched his first goal of the season against Dallas, and is on a two-game point streak.
With his improvement his minutes increased. But…
Hartnell will return soon, pushing a forward out of the mix. Like him or hate him, Cody McLeod is on the roster. His performance against Dallas establishes the team’s need for him. Watson is performing relatively well of late. Of course, Frederick Gaudreau is likely the player pushed back to Milwaukee.
However, minutes at the NHL level are at a premium. The Nashville Predators need an offensive presence on the fourth line. Aberg can be that player. His pedigree is a scorer. Should he start to play of up to the team need, Aberg will find regular time on the ice.
But, should he struggle to find the net, he will be watching more games for the upper levels of Bridgestone.
I, for one, hope he scores. And scores often.