The Nashville Predators‘ lineup has changed many times since the beginning of the current season, and it has held them back throughout.
One of the bigger issues has been the inability to completely figure out the top six, but it looks like that might no longer be an issue.
Juuso Parssinen was called up from Milwaukee this past Saturday, and he confirmed all the hype around him with a stellar debut. He did not record any points in his second NHL game in a win over the Wild, but he forechecked and carried the puck with such confidence, and you would not think he is a rookie — let alone two games into his career — when you watch him.
Even though the top six looks like much less of a question, the bottom six is still a big one. With Philip Tomasino likely coming back at some point and Cody Glass still in the picture, the Predators may have to make some sacrifices that are not ideal for them.
Who Will be the Odd Man Out in Nashville Predators’ Bottom Six?
Let’s get the obvious out of the way early — John Hynes’ lineup decisions have always been and still are baffling. Aside from Tomasino being in Milwaukee, Glass and Eeli Tolvanen have been scratched in several games, while Cole Smith has not even missed one.
With Tomasino being in the minors for as long as he has been, the Predators obviously saw something they wanted to get fixed, so there is a chance that they could be waiting for the opportunity to play him, Glass, and Tolvanen together.
There is no question that these young buddy superstars do not benefit nearly as much from playing alongside guys like Smith and Michael McCarron, so for all we know maybe the best opportunity has yet to come for the youngsters.
Regardless of the reasoning for their lack of playing time, we know they will get an opportunity together at some point this season, which they could make the most of and extend.
Smith would definitely be the first one out, but some other notable player would be leaving the bottom six, and for as big of a story as Parssinen has been, Mark Jankowski complicates things even more.
Jankowski too has been a nice addition to the Predators since getting the call-up, as he has been a solid, reliable two-way player. He has actually been a nice fit on the “Herd Line”, and it is tough to justify taking him out of the lineup with how he has played.
The question then becomes who else you can take out? This is not something that will be the least bit popular among Predators nation, but Colton Sissons might be one you seriously think about. it It’s not because he is playing badly at all, but is due to not having many other options.
With Sissons having this year and three more after left on his contract, scratching him is really tough to justify, but it might be the best move when it comes to maximizing the Predators’ roster. I highly doubt the team is even slightly considering it, but trading him could be an option of they want to get value for him and move on with the lineup minus Sissons.
Probably the biggest question of all of this is will the Predators even roll with a lineup that gives the three touted youngsters a legit chance to make an impact, and it is tough to say it is likely. But it would be absolutely mind-boggling to not even give them that chance, which is why we have to at least think about what the lineup would look like in that case.
It will most likely come down to Jankowski and Sissons, and the question will be do the Nashville Predators prioritize what is working in the short term, or keep their veteran player who is established and is playing on a contract that only would belong to a full-time NHL player? We will see but the choice will not be easy either way.