The largest topic this offseason is who gets John Tavares. While many fans want to see him in gold, do the Nashville Predators need him?
The Nashville Predators have many big decisions to make this offseason. The most compelling is what to do about aging Pekka Rinne. Perhaps the second most compelling question is who to chase after in free agency. There are many free agents available for the Predators and GM David Poile to consider.
However, one player in particular seems to be getting all the buzz. Perhaps this off-season’s biggest free agent is John Tavares. To the untrained eye, this addition would seem a no-brainer. According to Matthew Coller and ESPN.com, Tavares’s biggest skill is making his teammates better on the ice. Let’s look inside the numbers and see if he would help or hurt the Nashville Predators.
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John Tavares has boasted some hefty numbers over the course of his 9 seasons in the NHL. One of his not-so-great numbers, though, has been his goal differential. Last season, Tavares sported a -12 goal differential. This would rank him next to dead last in the Central Division among Centers as far as +/- is concerned, according to stats on NHL.com.
The question then becomes, what impact would this have on the Nashville Predators, specifically? According to stats for 2017-2018 from foxsports.com, the Predators ranked number one in the NHL in team goal differential. The addition of John Tavares would, therefore, have done nothing in this category but hurt the Predators. Let’s look at one other important statistic.
The Nashville Predators had a penalty problem in 2017-2018. They had the most penalties of any team in the league with 372 total last season. With the addition of Tavares, the Predators would be getting a Center who had 26 penalty minutes last season, ranking him 3rd on the team in penalty minutes were he to be acquired according to stats from NHL.com.
As is the case in many areas in hockey today, the numbers don’t lie. One of the biggest factors to Nashville’s success of last season was their outstanding goal differential as a team. In turn, one of the biggest detriments to their success overall was the penalty problem. Unfortunately for Predators fans, going inside the numbers tells us a different story about John Tavares than we would like to hear.
Ultimately, the Nashville Predators will be just fine without John Tavares.