If there’s one thing that we can really take away from the Nashville Predators preseason, it’s that line combinations are going to play a major role in the success of the Predators during the 2023-24 season.
With a new head coach who is beginning to implement a new and faster system, the Predators have been mixing up line combinations drastically throughout the preseason. But which groups have we seen produce the most, and who should stick together consistently throughout the season?
Yakov Trenin and Juuso Parssinen
Line-mates Yakov Trenin and Juuso Parssinen really stood out during the Predators preseason game at Tampa Bay. Although we didn’t see them play together against the Carolina Hurricanes, we saw some great work from them earlier in the preseason.
Trenin and Parssinen looked fast and dynamic together and were both able to spring each other for great scoring chances. Trenin’s physicality matched with Parssinen’s speed and puck handling made the pair quite successful in setting up plays, and they were even able to set up fellow linemate Joakim Kemell for a goal, with Trenin gaining a primary assist on the goal.
Although Kemell has been sent back down to the Milwaukee Admirals for at least the start of the season, I think that we will certainly see a lot of Trenin and Parssinen paired together. Parssinen was quite the asset to the Predators before his injury last season, and we can certainly expect the same from him this year.
Trenin has also looked great from what we’ve seen during training camp, and he seems to be adapting Andrew Brunette’s new style very quickly which will make him very important when it comes to setting up scoring chances.
Filip Forsberg and Ryan O’Reilly
If there’s a player that spiked the most enthusiasm from Predators fans during the offseason, it’s Ryan O’Reilly. The team has lacked consistent goal scoring ability recently, so who better to put another power forward with than all time leading goal scorer Filip Forsberg?
Although the entire team is still getting used to Brunette’s new playing style, the pair have already had some great chances and have been able to capitalize on some of them. Both are very smart players, and we have seen O’Reilly’s ability to read plays come in handy when springing a dangerous Forsberg up the ice for several different breakaway chances.
I’m very excited to see what these two are able to accomplish this year, and with them on the ice together, they are certainly going to be quite the weapon for the Predators and should not be underestimated by other teams.
Tommy Novak, Luke Evangelista, and Philip Tomasino
Taking a break from the “dynamic duos” to talk about the absolute weapon that is the Tomasino-Novak-Evangelista line. The trio played together in Milwaukee for a good chunk of time last year, and have shown their ability to practically read each other’s minds while on the ice.
After a four point night for Evangelista in Vancouver during the 2022-23 season, Evangelista credited his points with his ability to work well with Novak. His first NHL goal was scored recovering the rebound from Novak’s initial shot, as he knew exactly where Novak would be to pick up the puck.
This line in particular will be vital for the success of the team this year, as they have the speed and play making ability to really throw off other teams. Luke Evangelista and Tommy Novak really showed out at the end of last season with their multiple goals, but a lot of the assists for these goals came from fellow linemate Philip Tomasino who had his fair share of points as well.
During the preseason, we saw a wonderful play unfold with this trio on the ice. Some great forechecking by Evangelista sprung the puck out to Novak who was able to carry it toward the net before missing the initial shot. The puck came out to the defensemen Dante Fabbro and Roman Josi before finding its way to Tomasino, then Evangelista, and finally, a sniper from Novak led to a Predators goal.
The constant work and movement from all three forwards led to this amazing chance, and over the course of the year as they get more comfortable with the new play style, we should see several more jaw-dropping moments like this one.
Roman Josi and Dante Fabbro
This leads us into another great duo. Roman Josi and Dante Fabbro are a pair that all Preds fans should be familiar with, as they have been partnered together on defense for a few years. Fabbro was Josi’s partner during his career high season, and we have seen consistent production from the two of them on the ice.
During the few preseason games that they both played together, they are looking even more consistent and stronger than they did at the end of last season.
Fabbro has been more aggressive when it comes to taking chances with the puck, and this has allowed for Josi to get shooting lanes more often and to spring the puck quickly to the forwards they are paired with.
If the team continues with the development that we have seen during the preseason, we can expect some great moments when they are on the ice together, no matter what forward group they are with.
AHL – Fedor Svechkov and Egor Afanasyev
Although both Fedor Svechkov and Egor Afanasyev have both been sent back down to the Milwaukee Admirals, they are definitely a pair for all Preds fans to keep an eye on during their time in the AHL. During the second preseason game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the pair’s ability to move the puck quickly to move around the opposing team really showed out on the ice.
It would come as no surprise to me if either of them were called up to play with Nashville later in the season, as I believe they will help each other get some much needed development in point production.