by Forechecker on 01/19/09 at 01:08 PM ET
It was probably for the best that upon coming home from Saturday’s awful 7-2 loss to Atlanta, I found my internet connection down. That prevented my posting one of those “fire ‘em all” type of posts that would have felt good to get out of my system, but would hardly have been productive. Given the ideal stage to make a statement to the city of Nashville (huge crowd, crappy opponent, and the Tennessean‘s sports columnist making his first trip to a game this year), the Preds came out and tripped over their own feet, bloodied their nose and stumbled weakly back to the dressing room to a chorus of boos. At least, to some extent, it was entertaining, if tragic comedy is your thing.
With that in mind, I want to introduce a weekly feature here called, “Preds Question of the Week”, in which I want to get your opinion on a particular topic.
So I ask you this morning… “What’s the Next Step?”
We all knew headed into this season that depth on the wings was the glaring weakness on this Predators team, thanks in large part to the unexpected (and uncompensated) loss of Alexander Radulov. While Steve Sullivan’s return has been a nice bonus, he’ll need at least a few more games before things really start clicking; passes have been ever-so-slightly off the mark, and right now any offensive contribution on his part is pure gravy.
This morning the Tennessean broke down the failure four prospects (Jones, Hornqvist, Pihlstrom & Santorelli) to make a significant offensive impact, and we can’t honestly be surprised by this. I projected Jones and Hornqvist for 30 and 33 points each, respectively, prior to the season, and while they were headed that way through the first quarter of the season, their return to the AHL pretty much quashes the chance of attaining even that minimal level of production.
David Poile had every opportunity to lock up veteran Jan Hlavac prior to the season, and for a reasonable salary, the 32 year-old Czech winger was an excellent fit on the Legwand line last spring. At least with Hlavac you knew what you were getting; a 10-20 goal scorer who was reasonably effective along the boards, a role player but definitely an NHL-caliber role player. What Poile opted for instead was to leave two forward slots available for rookies, starting first with Jones and Hornqvist, and switching up over time in an effort to get something going.
What is obvious to this point, however, is that none of the four is ready to produce at the NHL level, and if this team is going to compete for a playoff spot, something needs to be done. Lines have been shuffled, the road to Milwaukee has been well traveled, and even a full productive Steve Sullivan won’t answer all the problems up front.
So chime in, already; what’s the Next Step that the Predators need to take? Do they fire Barry Trotz? Trade a player or two and pack it in for this year? Deal some draft picks and bring in a rental?
All I know is, something’s gotta change.
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