While the Nashville Predators have not committed to a full-blown rebuild, they have had plenty of youngsters come in over the past few years to give the team a newer look.
Alexandre Carrier is another prominent member of this list, and one the Predators and their fans should be particularly excited about. He got his first chance to play a full season in 2021-22 after establishing himself the year prior, and he ran with it.
Carrier finished the year with a very respectable 30 points in 77 games, 10th in Calder Trophy voting, and was on the first all-rookie team. He has improved by the day since entering the league and hasn’t reached hs ceiling yet.
Carrier will be a difference maker for the Nashville Predators
Carrier is someone who has excelled at his two-way style of play and expects to impact the game in several different ways. Based on the way he finished last season, we should still hold him to that expectation.
Both Carrier’s offensive and defensive game took steps forward as the year progressed, showing glimpses of the complete player he has the potential to be in the future. There were many instances where you could watch the game and see him stand out for making a great play.
As much as the Predators have become a better team during this offseason, Carrier’s own improvement should give the team an even bigger boost than appears on paper. In no way should this be more apparent than when looking at his pairing partner for most of last season, Mattias Ekholm.
During the time Carrier has spent acclimating and adjusting to the NHL, Ekholm has been involved in helping facilitate the offense and quarterbacking the second powerplay unit. Frankly, neither of those tasks suit his strengths.
Ekholm excels as a primarily defensive, stay-at-home defenseman and got himself into trouble at times last year when trying to make offensive plays.
Assuming Carrier continues on the trajectory he is on, he can take on more of the secondary facilitator role behind Roman Josi, while Ekholm can return to pinching in the defensive zone and helping keep pucks out of the net.
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Reshaping the power play with Carrier
While it’s entirely possible that the Predators have another move this offseason, their defensive core looks pretty set. How it’s aligned with Carrier, Josi, Ekholm and McDonagh is still up in the air.
The second powerplay unit, which was not effective at all last year, would benefit from Carrier being the quarterback, since he can move the puck and plays that offensive style that Ekholm clearly is not best at.
The Predators still managed to greatly improve in that department in spite of their second unit, but that may not be sustainable if they are one-dimensional in that regard, so exchanging Ekholm for Carrier might just be a necessary swap.
Whether it is Ekhom or Ryan McDonagh alongside Carrier, the Predators can return to having one of the best top-four defenses in the league with two pairs featuring one facilitator and driver, and one shutdown.
Do not forget that Carrier’s current contract expires after this year, which could motivate him to play hard and cash in for a big payday. He has shown nothing but promise and assuming he only continues to do so, he is someone who legitimately will be a problem for opposing teams.