Nashville Predators: Can Jeremy Lauzon Finally Solve Third Pairing Woes?

Nashville Predators defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (3) skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators defenseman Jeremy Lauzon (3) skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the first period at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

No one really liked the Jeremy Lauzon addition by the Nashville Predators back in March, mainly due to surrendering a second round draft pick for another bruiser who doesn’t offer much else.

Although I understand the reservations from fans, I actually find the Lauzon addition to be a decent upgrade to making this team more competitive against the league’s best offensive teams.

The Predators then doubled down on their feelings about Lauzon by signing him to a four-year contract worth $2M AAV, meaning they have a lot of faith in him being a solution to the defensive depth.

The depth for the defense has plagued this team for a few years now. It’s been a revolving door of average to mediocre defenseman on the third pairing since the 2017 Stanley Cup run.

Lauzon is an upgrade to past third pairing defensemen

There’s no doubt in my mind that Lauzon will be an upgrade to what the Predators had at their disposal for the third pairing in recent memory. Most notably because he’s younger and has upside.

Lauzon was top-20 in hits in the NHL according to last season. We know he’s going to be an extremely physical player and be a tone setter of sorts, which is exactly what you want on the third pairing.

You’re not relying on this part of your roster to provide much offensive impact, although it’s an added bonus if they offer some. Lauzon has a decent shot on him and at the very least will test the goaltender at times.

Lauzon is basically a swap for the departed Matt Benning who wasn’t retained this offseason.

My biggest reservation about Lauzon is also why I like him. It’s a double-edged sword for me. Yes he has upside being just 25, but with that will probably come his fair share of young mistakes and bad penalties.

Can Lauzon channel his aggressive playing style to the point that he’s not putting his team on difficult penalty kill situations against teams with elite power plays? That will be a major focal point to how much Lauzon benefits this team.

With that said, we all want plenty of this from Lauzon in 2022-23:

Lauzon showed promise in a Predators uniform before getting injured towards the end of the regular season. Enough to have the front office invest in him rather heavily at four years, but a low AAV of just $2M. I’ll take that low price tag all day with the potential to be a bargain in the end.

A Fabbro/Lauzon pairing has potential

I know it’s not what we had envisioned for Dante Fabbro being knocked down to the third pairing, but with Ryan McDonagh joining the team unexpectedly over the offseason, there’s really no other place for him.

This could be a huge blessing for the Nashville Predators as a whole, even if it’s a demotion for Fabbro. I trust this pairing of Fabbro and Lauzon way more than I’ve trusted any other duo on this pairing in recent memory.

Even the pairing of Mark Borowiecki and Matt Benning, although not horrendous, had it’s limitations. Especially offensively. Now you have two young defensemen in Fabbro and Lauzon that can actually generate some offense and transition the puck, while also complementing each other very well.

Borowiecki will be rotational, but I don’t think he’s going to get a ton of playing time over Lauzon and Fabbro unless some really bad play comes from these two. That will be a big letdown if the Predators have to turn to Borowiecki on an every game basis.

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Season Prediction for Lauzon

Lauzon will be around a 70-game player, but don’t count out him being a healhty scratch at tims to bring in Borowiecki. A lot of this will hinge on what happens with Fabbro as well.

Between Jeannot and Lauzon, these two will be wrecking balls once agian this season. Plenty of brawls to be had, and Lauzon will be that prototypical enforcer.

I like Lauzon to chip in around a modest five goals, and maybe finish around 15 to 20 points. Nothing spectacular, but my biggest hope for him is he makes his presence known on the penalty kill. This unit has to improve as a whole in 2022-23, which finished 18th in the NHL.

The Nashville Predators have done an effective job solidifying their roster this offseason. Lauzon is just one small piece to the offseason puzzle, but one that could end up paying dividends if he pans out like the front office seems to have a lot of confidence that he will.