Nashville Predators: Like It or Not, Youth Movement is Coming

Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (28) Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (28) Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

At this low point in the Nashville Predators‘ season, which is only 13 games in, it looks like things are going to happen even if they’re unplanned.

For most of the offseason we heard these ongoing rumblings of a “youth movement” as the Predators lost veterans like Nick Bonino, Kyle Turris, Austin Watson, Craig Smith and Yannick Weber.

The youth movement looked highly probable until Nashville Predators GM David Poile made several low-key additions to the roster, which in turn created a logjam for younger prospects to get into the regular starting lineup.

Some of the moves looked good on paper and were encouraging. But again, they were very modest additions. Nothing too flashy, and certainly nothing that was going to suddenly shift the expectations of this team back to being a legit Stanley Cup contender like they were just a couple seasons ago.

Unintended circumstances for the Nashville Predators

With the Predators currently sitting at 5-8-0 on the season and flirting with last place in the Central Division, the talks about a fire sale are starting to arise. This will bring the youth of the roster into the equation whether it was the original plan or not.

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The Predators might have one more stretch of games to turn things around, or a youth movement will be inevitable. That will mean shipping off trade pieces and acquiring what you can, and letting key players to your future get that vital development.

You live with the results, for better or worse, with the younger players being injected into the starting lineup. I don’t think they can be any worse than what we’re already seeing.

That means players like Eeli Tolvanen, Mathieu Olivier, Yakov Trenin and Michael McCarron should continue to get regular starts. It also means some new faces should finally get their first starts of the season, most notably Philip Tomasino and Rem Pitlick.

Tomasino and Pitlick could bring a new offensive flash to this lineup that’s desperately in need of a jolt of energy. The Predators have managed just one goal in each of their last three games, and have scored more than three goals in a game just twice.

Some of these prospects are getting time with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves due to the Milwaukee Admirals not being able to play their season.

Tomasino already has five points through the first three games, while Pitlick has three goals during that time. The Wolves are 3-0 and have another game on February 16.

Alexandre Carrier is another player on defense that has an offensive element to his game and deserves a shot in the starting lineup if this youth movement goes all in.

Frustration levels are running high

The frustration within the fan base right now is rooted in not seeing the young players given a steady chance to make a difference. Often times they’ve been put in briefly only to be pulled right back out.

Olivier and Trenin have gotten the most opportunities to get regular starts, and for the most part they’ve played their roles well in the bottom-six.

Due to some unforeseen injuries and circumstances, we’ve seen Tolvanen stick around in the lineup longer than maybe what was the original plan.

Most recently the losses of Ryan Johansen, Mattias Ekholm, Luke Kunin and Calle Jarnkrok forced the Predators to turn to their taxi squad to fill in the holes.

This youth movement is likely going to happen regardless of what was planned. I’m all for it because quite frankly this team isn’t going anywhere this season.

Originally I thought as high as third in the division was their ceiling, but now my ceiling for them is maybe a fifth-place finish, which won’t be good enough for the playoffs.

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However, the roster additions haven’t really made any big impacts that change anything. With the exception of Mark Borowiecki, the offseason additions have brought very average results at best.

I’m willing to live with the consequences of missing the playoffs and taking some brutal losses if that means the Predators are investing in their future and giving the younger players  a chance to make a difference.