Nashville Predators: Impact of Mikael Granlund’s Return to the Lineup

Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators center Mikael Granlund (64) Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports /

There’s no shortage of depth and options for the Nashville Predators when looking over their roster. It’s a nice problem to have, but one that’s going to be tricky for Head Coach John Hynes to manage.

Things are going to get even more crowded with Mikael Granlund finally returning to the starting lineup as soon as Sunday, per Adam Vingan:

More depth, more offense for Nashville Predators

Granlund is a welcoming sight to the lineup even if he did have his well-known struggles last season for the Predators. He remains a highly-skilled offensive player that can hopefully jumpstart this offense.

If you take out the empty-netter for Calle Jarnkrok in the season-opener, the Predators have just two goals scored in two of their three games so far.

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The Predators are doing a lot of the little things well, like blocking shots and making life a little easier for their goaltenders. But their offense has been pretty stagnant with the exception of their 5-2 win over Columbus in the second game of the season.

Filip Forsberg has put up a goal in each of the first three games and really looks primed to have one of his most efficient seasons in his career.

It’s always been expected that Granlund will fit right back into the mix on the second line with Matt Duchene. A troubled part of the lineup last season, and one that has to show more consistency if the Predators are going to show improvement.

Granlund looked much more comfortable and free in the lineup after Hynes took over last season. With several new faces on the team, I’m confident that Granlund will be a main offensive driver for this team on the second line.

Someone has to move down

This means moving someone down the lineup, and it’s probably going to be Nick Cousins or Erik Haula. Both are candidates to play on the second line, although Haula has seen the game action in that role so far.

Recent practice rushes have shown Cousins on the second line over Haula, with Granlund getting some work on the fourth line:

Luke Kunin has been on the second line as well, but I don’t see him getting moved down. A second line of Granlund, Duchene and Kunin looks very enticing if you ask me.

The third line becomes the question. Rocco Grimaldi and Colton Sissons should remain mainstays on that line, but who joins in is still unclear. I’d keep Cousins on the third line and move Haula down to the fourth line initially.

That’s some really solid depth for the Predators. Something you really need over a grueling schedule that’s packed in.

The taxi squad comes into play here as well with Granlund moving in. It also means that Jarnkrok could be moved off as a healthy scratch to make way for Mathieu Olivier and Yakov Trenin.

You also still have the veteran Brad Richardson in the mix and a steady contributors in many different ways for the fourth line. So there’s a lot to sort out with Granlund returning to the fold.

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This is going to remain a fluid situation throughout the season. It’s like putting together a really complicated puzzle for Hynes and GM David Poile. Be that as it may, it’s nice to see that the Predators have plenty of viable options.

If Granlund even can produce half of the efficiency level he once produced with the Minnesota Wild, then he’ll be a major upgrade for the Predators to start generating more offense and not just rely on Forsberg to do it all.