The regular season is just over a week away as roster competition heats up for the Nashville Predators as they prepare for two against Tampa.
Head Coach John Hynes told the media that the roster decisions for the Nashville Predators got even harder after the first two preseason games against the Florida Panthers.
This is obviously a great problem to have if you’re a coaching staff, but decisions will have to be made quickly as the roster has to be trimmed down by 26 players.
Some expected roster subtractions have already been made with Zachary L’Heureux being assigned to Halifax of the QMJHL, Jack Matier to Ottawa of the OHL, and Graham Sward to Spokane of the WHL.
Nashville Predators roster competition going into two games vs. Tampa Bay
The next two games against the Tampa Bay Lightning, although just preseason games, still matter a lot to these players who are pushing for an NHL roster spot to open 2022-23.
“So, I think [Thursday’s] a strong evaluation day for us. It’s important for the players to continue to do what they’re doing. But it’s also important for us to really evaluate the guys that we feel are going to give us the best chance, the guys that are ready, and try to put together a team that has strong components to it.”– Coach Hynes on roster evaluation
Hynes shared the importance and task at hand for the coaching staff coming into gameday on Thursday against Tampa, via the team’s official website:
The fourth line is still very much up for grabs for several players. Zach Sanford, a player I think was a strong addition to the roster over the offseason, is looking to surge ahead in these next two games against Tampa.
Can Egor Afanasyev or Juuso Parssinen, two prospects who have gained a lot of buzz from rookie camp, snag a spot? I wouldn’t completely count them out, but these next preseason games are important for them as well.
Parssinen definitely shouldn’t be counted out as being a surprise addition to the opening night lineup if he closes out strong in the preseason. He continued his great offseason with a breakaway goal against the Panthers.
Is there any reason for us to realistically think Connor Ingram can do anything to get the backup role to Juuse Saros? I honestly don’t think he can, especially considering Kevin Lankinen looked very sharp in Monday’s action and the team didn’t sign him over the offseason for $1.5M to ride the pine.
Another thing to watch for in the two games against Tampa is how Hynes decides to shuffle the lineup and try some different things. Will he experiment with the second line even more and maybe give a player like Eeli Tolvanen a chance with veteran linemates like Nino Niederreiter or Ryan Johansen?
Philip Tomasino and Cody Glass are two players who should end up definitely making the final roster, but where they land exactly is up for grabs. They need to look impressive to coaches in their playing time against Tampa.
Glass scored a pretty goal off a set-up from Matt Duchene in the 4-0 preseason win over the Panthers, while Tomasino got extensive playing time in the first game logging just under 20 minutes and tallying an assist. They need to stick out as leaders against Tampa.
The final score may not count, but positive results and looking more organized with their gameplan will be important. There isn’t much time left to prepare for when the games start counting.
The official lineup for tonight’s game hasn’t been announced yet, but we’ll update this article once it is released.