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Nashville May Need A Change At The Top

from Ken Campbell of The Hockey News,

The Predators were an upset casualty in the qualifying round of the playoffs against a team that was 11th in the Western Conference when the NHL paused in March and an organization that was in disarray when they met less than a week ago. When you can’t outscore the Arizona Coyotes in three of four games, there’s something seriously wrong with your offense. Yes, the Predators went long stretches in the series as the better team and, yes, Arizona goalie Darcy Kuemper was brilliant. And losing Viktor Arvidsson was a devastating blow. But this is a team that does not have a game breaker and really, beyond Paul Kariya, has never had one.

And much of that deficiency falls to the man in charge. Poile has overseen 22 drafts for the Predators and while he has stocked the organization with a treasure trove of elite defensemen and goaltenders, his record for recruiting offensive players, either through the draft or in trades, has been nothing short of abysmal. In Poile’s very first draft in 1998, the Predators selected David Legwand with the second overall pick. They found a some decent offensive players in the late rounds with the likes of Arvidsson, Craig Smith, Martin Erat and Patric Hornqvist and unearthed some scoring talent with the likes of Scott Hartnell, Kevin Fiala and Alexander Radulov in the first round. But the fact is Poile has drafted 93 forwards in the past 22 years and only one of them, Legwand, has scored 500 points for the franchise. Good, but not even very good, forget about great.

Lord knows, Poile has tried to make up for that deficiency by making trades. Lots of them. A ton of blockbusters, in fact. But all of those deals were basically a shell game when it came to landing a true No. 1 center. Ryan Johansson, who cost Poile defenseman Seth Jones and a bloated eight-year deal worth $64 million, has never delivered on that front, although he was very good in this series.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Comments

WingedRider's avatar

It may be a little premature to start firing team members after 3 or 4 games.  Some players didn’t have the talent to over come their lack of physical fitness, some of the Goalies were certainly a big reason for their teams , etc Really did anyone expect any of the teams to be at te top of their games?

These have been exhibition games with many , flip a coin, to see who wins.

McDavid and other top players showed some exciting plays but even they would have been on top of their games if they had more games before this Buttman , “Lets grab some TV money and move on” kind of hockey.

It sure seemed at times to look like the exhibition games prior to the season, with more physically fit players and only a few Non NHL players.

Some teams looked like they were going to miss the playoffs when the pandemic stopped the NHL.

If any moves are made it will be interesting to see how they do with fresh blood, if a normal season series games are played.

So far it sure looks like some players do not want to be playing and/or are not ready to play at a high level.

The next phase of this goofy idea may lead to some lopsided or unexpected results.  No betting from this fan.

Posted by WingedRider from Saskatoon, SK on 08/08/20 at 12:15 PM ET

TreKronor's avatar

It’s tough to judge this series. Any team could win a 5 game series, especially after a few months off.

Not time to blow up the team yet, but next year will be an important one.

Posted by TreKronor on 08/08/20 at 02:39 PM ET

Avatar

I agree that this short series after a long break really shouldn’t be used to judge a team. The article especially misses out on the evaluation of Soros who clearly showed he was the better goaltender this season and his future still appears bright. He’s improved each year he has been in Nashville so there is zero reason they’ll be seriously looking to upgrade that position.

However, Nashville was playing well below expectations much of the season. If it wasn’t for a good stretch late in the season I would have called their season a disaster. There is no way a team with that much talent should be sitting around .500. It’s the reason there was a coaching change.

It hasn’t just been one season either. The defense just hasn’t been a good lately. The can put up some good numbers on the offensive side but they have far too many defensive breakdowns. A pretty good judge of a team is goal differential and Nashville has hovered around 0 (typical of a borderline playoff team) for almost 2 full seasons.

The Jones for Johanssen trade was actually a good one for the Preds as it brought them a desperately needed #1 center. He does more for that team than just put up points. He makes players around him better. Forsberg is a great player but needs to use his strength more and stop trying to do so much on his own. I really thought Duchene would be a difference maker but he wasn’t. If he doesn’t turn that around it is a serious problem for the franchise. Turris is already an overpaid dud and they’ll be desperately trying to unload him.

My final observation is I think the team lacks a bit of an identity. They are supposed to be a defense first opportunistic team but make too many basic mistakes. They aren’t a finesse/skill team. They aren’t a speed team. They aren’t a physical team. What are they?

Surely they could benefit from the #1 pick but he probably won’t carry them to the next level unless the other pieces find a way to play more consistent hockey. There are a bunch of players who could play better and still have a couple years to make that happen.  It’s going to be hard to reshape the team from the draft, trades or free agency in the next couple of years so getting more out of the current group may be the only way.

Posted by evileye on 08/10/20 at 02:49 PM ET

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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.

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