Nashville Predators: Calle Jarnkrok Should Initially Start on Taxi Squad

Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s more roster space available going into this unpredictable season for the Nashville Predators, which means giving new players an opportunity.

It’s vital that the Nashville Predators don’t fall into old habits this season. They’ve got a fresh look on their roster with so many offseason additions and subtractions.

Head Coach John Hynes is heading into his first full season behind the bench for Nashville, and is cut out for him at training camp which just started with on-ice activities yesterday.

There’s going to be a desire to stick with veterans that you trust over younger and inexperienced players who have never logged many minutes, if any, for the Predators.

One of those veterans is Calle Jarnkrok for me. A player who has always shown flashes of outstanding play, but has never taken that next step to be anything more than a common depth player.

The need for youth and something new

Hynes’ biggest challenge is deciding who gets onto the initial opening night starting lineup and who goes onto the taxi squad. Furthermore, which players won’t even make the taxi squad and get to travel with the team?

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There’s a lot to sort out here with newcomers being added to the team like Luke Kunin, Brad Richardson, Erik Haula and Nick Cousins. Not to mention the somewhat unexpected return of Mikael Granlund.

Basically speaking, the Predators were much more aggressive in the offseason to change their roster up than I previously anticipated back in August when the Predators were ousted out of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

I had a sneaking suspicion that the team was going to be relatively conservative in their offseason approach and possibly just make one or two moves. I was dead wrong, and happily so.

Now the Predators have to be bold here and make some tricky lineup decisions.

This isn’t to say they should completely give up on Jarnkrok, who is just 29-years-old and played fairy decent offensively speaking last season. But his ceiling has been reached in all likelihood. That ceiling can still offer some positive things, just not enough.

Jarnkrok is a taxi squad player initially for me heading into the season-opener on January 14 against the Columbus Blue Jackets. I want to see what some rising prospects and new free agents can do first.

Predators GM David Poile said it himself to the media regarding the need for an expanded roster to be successful in this condensed 56-game schedule, per Brooks Bratten on

"“We had a team meeting where we basically talked to the players about being open-minded with our decisions and realizing that this is going to be a unique season. How we start isn’t necessarily how we’re going to finish in terms of where our roster is going to be.”"

I personally love this mentality heading in. Every player should be on notice about the intensity and focus it’s going to take to turn this thing around. Narrowly making the playoffs only to get ousted early on isn’t satisfactory in the slightest for this franchise.

A roster logjam

Jarnkrok is a player that will still get plenty of games regardless of where he starts off the regular season. As a mentioned earlier, I’m not giving up on the guy just because I want him on the taxi squad initially.

Then there’s the rise of prospect Philip Tomasino, who is preparing to win Gold Medal for Team Canada at the 2021 World Junior Championship in Edmonton before he can arrive at Predators training camp.

Tomasino has played very well on the big stage for a stacked Canada team. He’s got four goals and two assists in six games for Canada, who hasn’t trailed and is pretty much dominating the competition ahead of their Gold Medal game against Team USA.

Eeli Tolvanen is another example of a prospect that the Predators have to find out what they have. However I will say that Tolvanen needs a really strong training camp showing to make a case for a spot in the starting lineup.

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This all just creates a logjam for the Predators starting lineup, which is a good thing. You want this healthy competition, and ideally the intrasquad scrimmages will settle some of this debate.

All of this isn’t to say that Jarnkrok can’t be a valuable part of this team. He’s a versatile player in the lineup that can move onto any line, as he showed last season.

Jarnkrok managed 34 points last season as he even saw some time on the top line. But was that his NHL ceiling? We know he’s not a regular top-six NHL player. He’s a valuable bottom-six player who can provide some timely goals and be a spot starter when other players will need rest in this grueling schedule.

With all of this considered, I want to see the Predators roll out with an aggressive starting lineup that brings something new to the table to see what they have right out of the gate.

Jarnkrok is my veteran that’s the odd man out to make room for the offseason acquisitions and a prospect or two.