Friday, May 24, 2013

2013 Nashville Predators Season Review

This team fell short of my expectations, and seemed to miss Ryan Suter far more than Detroit missed Nick Lidstrom. Pekka Rinne was not nearly as dominant as last season, at least not in the 2nd half. Early in the season there were Rinne whispers for the Hart Trophy, but afterwards he fell out of even the Vezina conversation. The season did not end well for the Predators, as we learned that Rinne needed hip surgery, which helps explain his dramatic drop in performance. The sad truth for the Preds is that their team is now built around their goaltender who is starting to show signs of wearing down amid a heavy workload.

Mike Fischer was the most productive forward when healthy, followed by David Legwand. Patrick Hornqvist had 14 PTS in 24 GP, and was one of many injured players on the Predators roster this season. What this team lacks more than anything is an elite level goal scorer, on a roster over-loaded with role players. They need an ace. Without such a player, they will be forced to play a very tight defensive system to be even marginally competitive, which won't help sell tickets in a weak hockey market.

Paul Gaustad has to be a black eye on Craig Poile's resume. When he traded a 1st round pick for a 3rd line face-off guy, he made a big mistake, which was only compounded when he signed him to a long term extension. Gaustad had 5 PTS in 23 GP. Poile did save face by trading Martin Erat for Filip Forsberg at the trade deadline, when it was clear Nashville was going nowhere. Forsberg crossed the pond before the end of the season and has already accumulated a few games of NHL experience. There are some decent prospects in the Nashville system, which they will want to elevate sooner rather than later.

Preseason Rank: 12
Midseason Rank: 20
Final Rank: 28
GM Grade: D

1st Star: Shea Weber
2nd Star: Pekka Rinne
3rd Star: Ryan Suter um, I mean Mike Fischer

UFAs: Brandon Yip, Kevin Henderson, Chris Mueller, Chris Mason
RFAs: Roman Josi, Bobby Butler, Jon Blum, Victor Bartley, Matt Halischuk, Daniel Bang, Nick Spaling

Best Contract: Colin Wilson 2 more years at $2M
Worst Contract: Paul Gaustad 3 more years at $3.25M

What I said about them in preseason:  They certainly are not better than last season. Kept Weber, lost Suter. They are not as good. Last year was their year, and they lost to Phoenix.  They will be a marginal playoff team for at least a few more seasons, but their window is closing shut very quickly.


Is it blasphemous to say that the Predators should strongly consider trading Shea Weber this summer? There may be some dark times ahead, and the team may not be able to pay out the remaining years on that contract. We will see how their attendance holds up if this is not a playoff team any longer. The lack of offensive displayed by the Preds this season was embarrassing; compound this with Pekka Rinne falling from the elite tier of goaltenders (into the above average tier), and what you've got is a very disappointing season. As of right now, there is no reason to think that next year will be any better than this train wreck, unless Rinne makes a full recovery from hip surgery.

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