Join TSN in a 30 teams in 30 days tour of the NHL in preparation for the upcoming season. Teams will be unveiled in reverse order of the pre-season TSN.ca Power Rankings, and the Nashville Predators are up next. Get the lowdown on their off-season and the issues they face this season. Use the Your Call feature to give us your take on the Predators!
2009-10: 47-29-6 (7th in West, Eliminated in Conference QF by Blackhawks)
General Manager: David Poile (13th Season)
Head Coach: Barry Trotz (13th Season)
What they did in the off-season:
A couple of key players left Nashville in the off-season, but they also got some big ones in return. The Preds opted to trade Jason Arnott to the Devils for prospect Matt Halischuk and a second-round pick in 2011. The team also traded the rights to sign free agent defender Dan Hamhuis to the Flyers in exchange for Ryan Parent, who is making his return trip to the Music City after being drafted by the Preds in 2005. The team also got rid of goalie Dan Ellis, combining him with forward Dustin Boyd in a trade with the Canadiens that brought talented, yet inconsistent forward Sergei Kostitsyn to Nashville. Signing free agent centre Matt Lombardi to a three-year deal after a career season in Phoenix was another key manoeuvre. Nashville also reunited with its second-round pick from 1999, forward Jonas Andersson, who has been playing in Europe for the past six seasons. The Preds re-signed budding star Patric Hornqvist and added Aaron Johnson in free agency for additional blueline depth. Perhaps the most significant move made by the Preds was the naming of a new captain: 24-year-old defender Shea Weber takes the job from the departed Arnott, a sign that leadership has been turned over to the youth on this team.
Biggest issue facing the team:
While this is a team that grinds on its opponents during the regular season, the Predators – with their revamped roster – play in a wildly competitive Western Conference. The team has never been able to fight past the first round of the playoffs, even though it was the eventual Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks who ended their most recent playoff run. They will gun to go deeper in 2010-11, but it may be tough with the departure of some key leaders.
Player to watch:
While expectations were high for Colin Wilson last season, an early-season groin injury stifled the success last season for the No. 7 pick from the 2008 draft in his first pro season, as he generated just eight goals and 15 points in 35 games. Since he previously had scored 34 points in 40 games at AHL Milwaukee and won an NCAA championship at Boston University, much is anticipated from this young player. With Arnott returning to New Jersey, the first-line centre role is now open, Wilson could well seize it.
For additional analysis, be sure to read Scott Cullen's fantasy take.