Getting lost in the haze of a hectic offseason for the Nashville Predators is their addition of 27-year-old winger Zach Sanford, who likes to throw the body around to make it grueling on offensive players.
This was a savvy offseason pickup for the Nashville Predators as they look to boost their overall depth and keep that physical edge over their opponents like they did last season, helping them finish with another postseason berth.
Look, Sanford isn’t going to come in here and produce much offensive output. He’s just not that type of player, and honestly that’s fine. He’s not being brought in primarily for that reason.
You also need veterans who know their roles and play them well. That’s what I potentially see in Sanford with the Predators this season.
What Will Sanford Bring to the Nashville Predators?
The value in Sanford is his two-way ability, his age as he’s in his prime years, and his history of playing on winning teams. He won a Stanley Cup with the St. Louis Blues in 2018-19 and chipped in four points in eight playoff games that year.
Sanford is basically on a tryout this season with the Nashville Predators. He signed for just one year at a meager price of $850,000. Role players like this can often times vastly exceed their contract and earn themselves a more permanent role with their current team, and that’s what I see with Sanford and the Predators this year.
The interesting thing to watch will be if Sanford can prove himself in training camp enough to be a starter to open the regular season. He’d likely slot in as a fourth liner, and with his defensive traits that he showcased last season with Ottawa and Winnipeg, he can be perfect in that spot on the roster.
Sanford respectably put up 67 blocked shots last season, which was a career high and would’ve put him sixth on the Predators last year and would’ve led all Nashville forwards. Even Tanner Jeannot.
Also you should fully anticipate Sanford getting in his fair share of brawls, which he will fit in perfectly with the Predators team that loves to do that and get under the skin of their opponent. Sanford registered four fights last season per HockeyFigthts.com.
This move isn’t getting much attention, and understandably so considering the Nashville Predators also added Ryan McDonagh, Nino Niederreiter, thankfully re-signed Filip Forsberg, traded Luke Kunin, and let Matt Benning and Nick Cousins go.
Sanford Has to Earn It in Training Camp
A lot of changes to this Nashville Predators roster, but we should be pleased to see a player like Sanford join the club. He’s a player that does the dirty work if you will, but don’t completely count him out to scoring a crucial goal occasionally, either. He’s not a complete ghost offensively by any means.
I have high expectations that the Nashville fourth line will be much more defensively formidable this season, thanks in part to Sanford’s addition, but also with Eeli Tolvanen possibly getting fourth line work, and Tommy Novak fitting into the equation as well. All three have defensive qualities to their games.
Initially Sanford will probably be a rotational player along with Novak and possibly Michael McCarron as well. Based on individual performance we’ll start to see one of these three players rise to the top as the more regular starter along with what I expect to be more full-time starting roles for Cody Glass at center and Tolvanen on the other wing.
Modestly speaking, I do think Sanford makes this team slightly better thanks to beefing up the depth. You need players like Sanford who play hard defensively, have experience in winning at a high level, and has reached that point in their careers in their late 20s that they’re still hungry and playing for a long-term contract.
Sanford has a lot to play for this season on a one-year deal. I expect him to bring his play at a high level, and I won’t be shocked at all if as the season progresses he earns himself a more regular starting role on the team.
Last season Sanford played in 80 of 82 regular season games, so clearly in both Ottawa and Winnipeg they saw enough value in him to put him on the ice almost every game. The Predators are obviously in a different situation, but Sanford has already shown he can be a consistent starter in the NHL with 289 games in five seasons.