Nashville Predators: Who to Pick for the Expanded Playoff Roster

Eeli Tolvanen #11 of the Milwaukee Admirals (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)
Eeli Tolvanen #11 of the Milwaukee Admirals (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images) /

One big part of the NHL’s plan to return to action is allowing teams to expand rosters for the 24-team playoff that will hopefully start in late summer.

When and if this 24-team playoff format gets played out in a couple months, teams like the Nashville Predators will have to carefully choose how to expand their roster.

The Predators have some worthy candidates from their AHL affiliated Milwaukee Admirals that can possibly help them make a deep run in this year’s modified playoff field.

First and foremost, the Predators have to get past a gritty team defensively in the Arizona Coyotes. It’s going to be a five-game series, which means there’s no room for laying an egg out of the gate.

Top candidates to be called up

I’m starting with Alexandre Carrier on the defensive side. He’s earned it and it’s expected he’ll have a solid chance at a roster spot for 2020-21 as well.

The problems defensively for the Predators are well-documented this season. Their defensive issues have leaked into the special teams with their 29th-ranked penalty kill.

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In comparison, the Coyotes are the 5th-best penalty kill. If there’s a glaring area where the Coyotes can impose their will on the Predators, it’s on special teams.

Carrier can provide more speed and offensive playmaking ability than any other third-pairing defenseman they’ve been using. He deserves a spot on an expanded playoff roster.

Another defenseman to consider is Jeremy Davies. He’s not quite on the same level as Carrier, but he’s a guy that couldn’t do any worse than the likes of Yannick Weber or Dan Hamhuis.

I know he hasn’t developed as quickly as we would like to see, but Eeli Tolvanen can provide value on a limited basis if the roster is extended.

The Predators need more snipers. As slow as Tolvanen has been to develop, I think he could provide a quick spark on a second or third power play unit. His lethal wrist shot is still there.

Tolvanen was beginning to find a spark towards the end of the season and ended up finishing 5th on the team in points with 36, including seven power play goals and 11 points in his last 11 games.

Finally, you can’t leave out Daniel Carr in picking through candidates to be moved up for a deep playoff run. The guy tore it apart in the AHL this season with 50 points and an eye-opening 17.2 shooting percentage.

Obviously those numbers won’t exactly translate to NHL playoff hockey, and we’ve already seen him on the NHL level earlier this season. He didn’t produce much, but he’s still a worthy candidate on an expanded roster.

Extra help in net

Teams will be allowed to call up a maximum 28 skaters, and the Toronto Maple Leafs have already announced one prospect to their playoff roster:

The Predators will probably be a little more patient on announcing who might join their expanded roster. No need to rush into a decision and commit so soon.

Another interesting note is that you can have unlimited goaltenders, which means without a doubt that Connor Ingram should be called up at the very least.

In this regard, it’s going to be interesting to see who emerges as the Game 1 starter for the Predators between the pipes.

GM David Poile had some interesting comments he made to the Midday 180 on Nashville’s 104.5 The Zone regarding open competition in net when the training camp period starts.

Juuse Saros was playing outstanding and a big reason why the Predators are in this position, but Pekka Rinne may come in and dazzle people in the training camp session and get the nod, as unfair as that may seem to Saros.

As for Ingram, he should at least be part of the expanded playoff roster just in case. This guy had an enormously great season for Milwaukee in his first season within the Nashville Predators organization.

Must Read. Hockey is Kind of Back, and We Have an Opponent. light

This is a unique opportunity for the Predators to play up to the expectations many had for them before the 2019-20 campaign began. They’re getting a reset all while having a lot of the same talented players that got them to a Stanley Cup Final just a couple seasons ago.