The 2017-18 Nashville Predators won because everyone contributed. There are three players who could take a step backwards next season.
The Nashville Predators won the Presidents’ Trophy last year, given to the team with the best regular season record. They won because they played as a team. Many players had career years and even won awards for their performance. The Predators look to build upon this success, but let’s take a look at some players who might take a step back this coming season.
After a down year in the 2016-17 season, Craig Smith bounced back to register 51 points which was one shy of his personal best. He played with speed, and more often than not you’d see him crashing the net, evident in his 117 high-danger chances for. When Craig Smith was on the ice, the Nashville Predators had an astounding 70% goals-for percentage.
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The reasoning behind why Smith might have a down year is founded in his stats over his seven seasons of play. After a 52 point season in 2013-14, his point total shrunk every year until now. Similarly, his Corsi percentage peaked in 2014-15, but wasn’t matched until this year. He can prove that he has talent by performing after a down year. But he has yet to link together successful seasons. How will he respond after his second 50 point season? Past history says he won’t repeat.
Colton Sissons will be eligible for arbitration after this upcoming season. He may view this year as a chance to prove himself or even as an audition for other teams. He really came into his own last year, recording a career-high 27 points.
A gut feeling says he just won’t be able to match that. The past three years Sissons has started in the defensive zone about 70% of the time. It’s nice the Nashville Predators value him on the face-off, but he simply can’t bump his stats by starting in his own zone.
Another point to consider is the fate of his teammate, Austin Watson. Should Watson miss any time for his legal troubles, Sissons’ play might take a hit. When Sissons was on the ice without Watson, his stats dipped. In 5-on-5 play, his SCF%, HDCF%, and HDGF% were all lower than without his linemate.
Does the EA Sports cover curse exist in hockey? Not sure, but Predators fans might see a dip in play from P.K. Subban for other reasons. He was nominated for the Norris Trophy, and it was deserving as he scored 59 points. However, only 6 defensemen scored 60+ points last year, and only 3 the year before that. It’s tough for d-men to put up numbers that big.
It’s even tougher to score points if you’re in the penalty box. Subban had 31 minor penalties last year which was 9th in the entire league. And that’s average for him. The odds are against him on repeating his stellar 2017-18 season.