Can the forwards produce more points?
The 2017-18 Nashville Predators scored 267 goals on the season, the most since 2006-07. It was also the seventh most goals in the NHL on the season. With next season’s roster expected to be the same as last year, there is hope for the scoring trend to continue.
Coming into last year, offensive talk centered on the second line. With James Neal, Mike Fisher, and Colin Wilson all departed, could the new line provide an impact? They certainly did. In 2016-17, the Predators’ second line obtained 134 points. Last season, the most common combination of Craig Smith, Kyle Turris, and Kevin Fiala reached 141 total points.
The front two lines for the Predators can score. But, can the rest of the roster help? The defensemen contributed over 34% of the total points achieved last season. All of the top four defensemen earned 32 or more points, all in the top 11 on the team. This shows a bit of a gap between the top two lines of players versus the bottom two lines.
Nick Bonino played crucial minutes for the Predators last year. Yet, he was used in the defensive zone over 63% of the time, by far the most of his career. He finished with 25 points, below his performance of previous years. Watson had a great season, and Colton Sissons has the best of his career. Together, they can produce more.
The fourth line, however, is where the team could explode. The Predators should have Ryan Hartman for a full season, a healthy Calle Jarnkrok, and (fingers crossed) Eeli Tolvanen. Of course, we don’t know where Tolvanen will play for sure, but the possibilities of 40+ games with him on the ice is exciting.
In order for the team to compete with Winnepeg, they need more offense. It is the bottom two lines who must step it up.