One of John Hynes’ biggest problems as head coach of the Nashville Predators has been constructing the line combinations. It has seemed as if every time the forwards have struggled for a game or two, the lines would be put back in the blender, which is counterproductive to the team generating any sort of rhythm.
What is crazier though is that the youngsters have been on an even shorter leash, and when they get scratched from games they should be playing, it affects all four lines. It is a never-ending cycle, and even though the offense has started to get hot as of late, things could get thrown out of whack if they struggle again.
But what if part of the problem is what Hynes has at his disposal? It’s not even that he doesn’t have enough options, because he arguably has too many. It very well might be part of the tough decisions he has to make on who gets ice time and who does not.
Nashville Predators have way more than needed at the center position
Coming into the season, the Predators had four guys who seemed like their definite centers They were Mikael Granlund, Ryan Johansen, Colton Sissons, and Cody Glass. But of course, that is not the case three months into the season.
Juuso Parssinen and Tommy Novak both entered the lineup and have exclusively played at center, and even Mark Jankowski is a natural center. With the offense struggling for most of the year, Hynes has tried out combination after combination, and the Predators are still without a permanent top-six that they can feel good about.
Yes, the offense has been performing well as of late, but the team still has a lot of questions, and with Mattias Ekholm trade rumors swirling, a fire sale could be taking place soon. If that is the case, the centers would be an optimal position group to blow up.
While the defense has been inconsistent throughout, there are really no veterans who are holding back the youth, and a lot of their issues have come down to structure and breakdowns as opposed to talent.
With the offense, it feels like the problems are a little bit of everything, and more importantly, the veterans are holding back the youth and team a decent bit.
One of the main things that has sparked the Predators offense as of late has been strong play by the youngsters such as Parssinen, Glass, and Novak. So why not reward them by giving them more responsibility and better linemates?
I honestly think there is a scenario in which the Predators could do that by shedding some guys and still be pretty effective offensively.
Parssinen has played lots of time with Filip Forsberg and could be even better off with another optimal winger in Matt Duchene.
Glass has continued to be alongside and play well with Nino Niederreiter, and you have to think that Philip Tomasino should be coming back to Nashville soon and could be the final winger on that second line.
In order to make that happen, you have to trade at least two of Johansen, Granlund, and Sissons, and trading the former could be really tough unless the Predators are willing to eat close to $3M in salary per year.
The latter two could be realistic trade bait at the deadline, so there is definitely a way for the Predators to free up some space among the forwards.
If they continue to do this well on offense from now until the trade deadline, then deciding whether or not to move on from certain players will be tough, but the fact is that it is definitely on the table right now.
Those who do or have played center should especially feel pressure because they are very expendable under the Predators’ current situation.