Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
One of the great things about this time of the year, the days after players have started to drift back into NHL cities in anticipation of training camps starting in a matter of weeks, is to project, to dream, to imagine what might be.
And what better thing to imagine than which of the 30 teams will still be standing in June at the start of the Stanley Cup finals?
It is an exercise in fancy and maybe a little fancy stats with intuition and common sense thrown in, although we know that hat sense is oft-times uncommon come playoff time....
Nashville Predators versus Columbus Blue Jackets
When this matchup actually unfolds next spring, I will preface all coverage with “as first reported by ESPN.com.” Because it could happen. For a stretch last season Nashville was the best team in the NHL, led by Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne and two-time gold medalist and team captain Shea Weber. The Preds swooned down the stretch and were bounced in the first round by Chicago but should learn from that experience and once again be a playoff team in spite of the intense competition bound to unfold in the Central Division. Columbus, meanwhile, was last fall’s Eastern Conference darling but a rash of injuries dashed playoff hopes early. Still, the Blue Jackets played hard and were tied for the league lead in wins after March 1. Add Brandon Saad to an already hard-working, talented team and factor in former Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky in goal and this is a team ready to make noise.
Prediction: Columbus in 7; Scott Hartnell with the Cup-winner on a rare breakaway after the Nationwide Arena cannon inadvertently fires during a Nashville power play in double overtime.
four more matchups...
from Robby Stanley at NHL.com,
Nashville added center Cody Hodgson and forward Steve Moses, whose 36 goals led the Kontinental Hockey League last season. Hodgson and Moses likely will start the season on the third line, which did not produce much offense last season. Young forwards Kevin Fiala and Austin Watson will have a chance to make the roster and compete for spots on the third or fourth lines.
Nashville's core remains the same. Weber and Josi will eat up a lot of minutes on defense; Forsberg and James Neal (23 goals in 67 games) will be the two main scoring options; and Rinne should play 60-65 games.
Secondary scoring will be key; forwards Colin Wilson (20 goals, 22 assists) and Craig Smith (23 goals, 21 assists) were productive on the second line. Each signed a long-term contract in July (Wilson, four years, $15.75 million; Smith, five years, $21.25 million).
"We improved the team, first of all, by keeping the team together," Poile said. "There has been so many changes in the last couple years, including leading into last year. I think we needed a little bit more stability than we've had the previous years. The previous years, we didn't win, we didn't make the playoffs, [and] we needed to make some changes."
from Josh Cooper of Yahoo,
We give five reasons why Nashville should trade Weber, at least at some point within the next year.
1. The offers will be ridiculously in Nashville’s favor
His $7.857 million salary cap hit, while less awful in today’s post 2012-13 lockout world, is a lot. Also, some teams have the money, and the lunacy, to part with multiple good, young NHL-ready forwards Nashville needs. Weber is a physical speciman and cornerstone defenseman, but his perceived value, especially amongst old boys GMs, may be greater than his actual worth. Many probably still drool over this 2010 Olympics shot where the puck went through the net on a goal.
The Oilers under former general manager Craig MacTavish always seemed to be hot after Weber. And he’s the type of player the current Edmonton group could use with Connor McDavid coming in. Wait, how would Weber ever allow a trade to EdmonHoth? Oh yeah, the Predators didn’t give him any no-trade clause. So they can deal him to whatever team they want.
And new Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli has seemed OK with dealing good, young forwards at points of his career. If you’re going to trade the face of your franchise, you need to make sure you get the right pieces back. There are teams that have the type of NHL-ready young talent who can step in and score right away – like again, Edmonton.
Nashville, Tenn. (July 27, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Monday that the club has signed restricted free agent Colin Wilson to a four-year, $15.75 million contract. Wilson will be paid $3.75 million in 2015-16, then $4 million in 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 for an average annual value of $3.9375 million.
Wilson, 25 (10/20/89), set career highs in goals (20) and points (42), while tying a personal best in assists (22) in 2014-15. The Greenwich, Conn., native also led the team and set a career high in plus/minus rating (+19), and tied a career high and ranked third on the Predators in game-winning goals (5). During the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 6-1, 216-pounder set franchise records for goals (5) and power-play goals (4) in a playoff series during the Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Chicago. In 368 career NHL contests since 2009-10, Wilson has 178 points (77g-101a).
from JR Lind of the Nashvillle Post,
Predators forward Mike Ribeiro and his wife have settled out-of-court with a former nanny who made graphic sexual assault claims against the 35-year-old center, some of which allegedly occurred when she was a teenager.
The court-appointed mediator filed a report with the court late Wednesday afternoon saying that an eight-hour mediation July 6 resulted in a settlement of the suit.
The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.
"This civil matter has been amicably resolved without incurring further time-consuming and potentially costly litigation," Ribeiro's attorney, Brian Lauten of Dallas' Deans & Lyon, said in a statement to NashvillePost.com.
from David Ammenheuser of The Tennessean,
An open letter to Nashville Predators CEO Jeff Cogen and team President Sean Henry:...
The Jan. 30-31 All-Star weekend is your opportunity for the NHL and the Predators to grow that fan base.
In my 30-plus years as a journalist, I've attended several major professional sports' all-star events. Some were terrific (Cincinnati, this week, was the latest); some were lousy.
I missed an opportunity earlier this year and did not get to Columbus for the Blue Jackets' NHL All-Star Weekend. I got mixed reviews from some fans who attended. One suggestion I heard from the fans: Don't try to duplicate Columbus' 175-foot snow slide. After the first day, I heard it was more brown than it was white. Ugh.
You have a unique opportunity. Many NHL cities have waited more than 30 years to host an all-star event. Some franchises have never been awarded the game.
As you know, not every hockey fan will have an opportunity to buy a ticket to the NHL Skills Competition on Jan. 30 or the All-Star Game on Jan. 31.
The key for you, the NHL and the local organizing committee is to have more public events than you think are necessary. Take a look at your latest list. Then add 10 more.
from Adam Vignan of The Tennesseaon,
The Predators are making some changes within their broadcast teams.
Pete Weber, who has served as television play-by-play announcer since the team's inception, will transition to the same role on the radio.
He will switch places with Willy Daunic, who joined the radio broadcast team on a full-time basis last season. Daunic will be joined on television broadcasts by color analyst and former Predators forward Stu Grimson.
more on the changes from the Nashville Predators
from Robby Stanley at NHL.com,
Forward Jimmy Vesey feels that earning a degree from Harvard University will provide him with plenty of future opportunities outside of hockey, even though it pushed back his chance to make the Nashville Predators.
When the Predators selected Vesey in the third round (No. 66) in the 2012 NHL Draft, they knew he had the potential to be a dynamic offensive player. Vesey showed off that potential at Harvard during the 2014-15 season, leading the nation with 32 goals. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top college player in the country.
Vesey, a junior, could have turned pro and signed with the Predators in March, after the Crimson's season ended. Instead, he chose to return for his senior season.
Earning his degree from Harvard is important to Vesey.
"It was a really tough decision for me," Vesey said this week at Nashville's development camp. "I sat down with my family and we kind of weighed our options. At the end of the day, I just wanted to make sure I got that degree from Harvard because hockey is not going to last forever and that's something good to fall back on. I'm going to wait one more year and finish my college season and hopefully sign after the year."
Although the Predators felt Vesey, a government major at Harvard, was good enough to turn pro, he said they were supportive of his decision to return to school.
"It was a rough year all the way around, on the ice, off the ice, everything could go wrong went wrong. It was a disaster of a season by all accounts...."
-Cody Hodgson on his past season in Buffalo. More from Hodgson on his new team, the Nashville Predators by David Ammenheuser of the Tennessean.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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