The big question mark surrounding the Nashville Predators as the new season gets closer is where is the offense going to come from?
It takes more than one or two elite offensive players to drive a team into the playoffs and beyond. The Nashville Predators will have to figure out where the offensive output is going to regularly come from.
The Predators have one of the most talented offensive players in the game, and his primary position is being a defender. Roman Josi has been the main catalyst of the Predators offense for a while now, and there’s no reason to think that will change.
A detailed piece from Dobber Hockey on Josi’s 2019-20 season not being an outlier is worth a read:
But Josi can’t do this all on his own. That was made very apparent last season when the Predators failed to even get out of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. It wasn’t all offensive problems as inconsistent defensive play and special teams play was also to blame.
In fact, the Predators did regularly have their offensive outbursts that would overcome their defensive struggles. But now the Predators have to overcome losing some key veterans who brought offense to the team behind the top line.
Replacing lost offense
It doesn’t stop with those two losses as the Predators also have to figure out how to replace Kyle Turris and Mikael Granlund in the lineup. Two players who drastically fell short of expectations as members of the Predators, but still brought offensive skills to the table.
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First and foremost, the top line can’t miss a beat this season. Filip Forsberg has to remain an offensive force that’s on the cusp of becoming elite, and Ryan Johansen has to have a bounce-back season that’s mirrors 2018-19 when he tallied 50 assists.
As for Viktor Arvidsson, just stay healthy and use that skating ability to push the offensive attack forward to create odd-man rushes.
Duchene has a lot of pressure on him to carry the second line. He has to make the players around him better, and that might be a tall order considering he will have youth and inexperience around him.
Who can step up and provide offense?
Luke Kunin and Eeli Tolvanen are my picks to start off on the second line, and many see it going that way. However, things can obviously change in training camp if Head Coach John Hynes doesn’t like what he sees.
Hynes has to get this right, and there’s not going to be much time to waste as the regular season is going to be significantly shortened to 52 or 56 games at most.
Rocco Grimaldi is also a player that shouldn’t be overlooked in all of this in terms of increasing the offensive production and relieving some pressure off of the top of the lineup.
Grimaldi has continued to improve with every opportunity he gets with Nashville. There’s no reason to think he’s not going to continue that trend in an even bigger role in 2021.
The bottom line is there’s really no clear answer on where the Predators are going to get their offense from.
If you really want to go deep into it you’ll find that the Predators were one of the best at converting their high danger chances into goals (15.1 percent of the time), but were in the bottom half of the NHL at actually generating those high danger chances.
The Predators weren’t terrible at generating goals last season. They averaged just over three goals per game, which was good for 16th in the NHL. Nothing outstanding, but clearly not the main problem the Predators faced.
Now they have to replace a lot of losses in the lineup with younger players and free agents pickups with games that aren’t necessarily what you would call scoring goals regularly.
The Predators might very well have to adopt the reputation of winning games ugly this upcoming season. Wins are wins, and perhaps this style will provide better results for Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne in net.
It’s either tighten up significantly on defense and special teams, or rely on All-Star caliber seasons from the top of the lineup. But where this offensive output is going to come from is a very fair question to be asking right now as the season is hopefully only around a month away.