The Nashville Predators are preparing for the season ahead as here’s a breakdown of their bottom six and depth potentials.
As the final contracts get inked, the Nashville Predators are starting to take shape on what the line ups will be. Statistically, the JoFA line has been proven that it needs to stay together and be the top line. The signing of Matt Duchene puts him as the second-line center with Mikael Granlund and Craig Smith being the wingers. It could be argued that Kyle Turris should be on the second line so we will look into that. Just as important as the top six are, the importance of the team’s success also lies with the bottom six. We look at the potential pairings for next year’s bottom six.
As we begin to dictate who goes where, we should first look at who plays right wing on the second line, Kyle Turris or Craig Smith? Raw statistics prove that Craig Smith is the more successful goal scorer in the last three years. Turris, split time with the Ottawa Senators, scored fewer goals but has posted more assists than Smith but only by a small margin in the last three years.
Per HockeyViz, Turris was playing with Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund the most at the end of the year. He played with Colton Sissons a good part of that time as well. Craig Smith was sharing time with Bonino when he wasn’t with Kyle Turris as center. This shows us that the team could break in two directions on who starts the second line. Smith is the better goal scorer however Turris, when on his game, is a more rounded player.
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Smith on the second line makes sense to make the pairing offensively more lethal. Turris on the second line rounds out the line to make everyone equally likely to score with better passing.
Beginning of the year Smith should get honors to play on the second line to see just how lethal the pair can be between Duchene and Granlund. If at any time it doesn’t pan out, Turris should get the nod to play on the second line.
The two main reasons Smith should get the nod for the second line is because of his physical abilities and scoring abilities. Granlund isn’t much of a physical player and Duchene will be looking to get the offense started so that leaves Smith as the physical force on that line. The plus side is Smith can also create offense with his ability to drive the net.
Since Turris isn’t a physical player, Colton Sissons should be able to provide the heavy-hitting needed to give Turris time to make plays form. It’s debatable, but a Jarnkrok, Sissons, Turris line could work in a beneficial way to create more offensive depth for this team.
Sissons and Jarnkrok spend a lot of time on the penalty kill and yet still come up with ways to post 30 point plus seasons the last three years on average. Turris could be the two-way player that the third line needs to play smart defensively but also create more potential offense when they have puck control. Jarnkrok, Sissons, and Turris fill out your third line.
The fourth line has made its way to looking like Grimaldi, Bonino, and Watson as the “energy” line. Bonino will be turning 32 this year but still can produce quality shifts. It might be strange to see him on the fourth line; however, this is how the team is shuffling down. Watson is the heavy hitter that the team needs desperately. Grimaldi is a powerhouse that will look to try and make a bigger impact this year. The pairing of Watson, Bonino, and Grimaldi should be the final line.
The reserves look to be Miko Salomaki and Freddy Gaudreau. Salomaki has made his way to be more of a defensive asset as his offensive numbers have fallen a bit. Gaudreau struggles to get into the bottom six with the amount of depth the team has of centers and right-wingers. Both players can’t seem to wiggle into the bottom six, however, they are players that can fill roles when called upon.
The Predators have an abundance of guys who are all movable on the bottom six. When Arvidsson and Forsberg were injured last year, Grimaldi made his way to the top line and was able to produce in their absence. Being able to have these bottom-six guys added to top lines to produce and still play sound defense shows their true chemistry and abilities they provide for this team.
Knowing Peter Laviolette, if the lines aren’t producing, he is not afraid to jumble the lineup to get the team back on its tracks. They do seem to lack big players to bring the physical game that might cause some issues down the road for them. The bottom lines might look different through the year as Eeli Tolvanen, Daniel Carr and Anthony Richard are ready in the trenches to prove themselves.
The Predators are looking to be one of the top teams in the NHL again. The depth the Predators have in the bottom six poses to be a threat to most teams. If the team gets on a roll there is no stopping them. The changes the offseason brought should make for a great year ahead for the Predators.