by Forechecker on 10/07/08 at 02:15 PM ET
A quick word from the Nashville Predators practice this morning from the Tennessean’s John Glennon:
The Predators began practice Tuesday morning without forwards Antti Pihlstrom and Josh Gratton, an indication the two players may have been reassigned to Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.
Among players still practicing with the team are prospect forwards Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Jones, as well as offseason signee Joel Ward.
Gratton isn’t a complete surprise here, as he hasn’t exactly wowed fans or coaches with his work thus far, but Pihlstrom represented an intriguing prospect. The mighty Finn, it was hoped, would fill out a super-pest line alongside Scott Nichol and Jordin Tootoo, a trio that would surely have led the NHL in retaliatory penalties drawn and minimum combined size.
The unexpected development would be Joel Ward hanging on; there has been noise out of the Predators front office that they might begin the season with 22 skaters rather than 23, to maintain flexibility relative to the waiver wire, trade opportunities, and the recovery of Jed Ortmeyer from injury. Ward has been somewhat impressive in preseason action, throwing his body around aggressively, blocking shots, and scoring a breakaway goal against Carolina last week. That’s the kind of effort coaches like to reward, as it sends a message to the rest of the squad that good work won’t go unnoticed.
UPDATE: Josh Gratton has indeed been reassigned to Milwaukee, while Pihlstrom’s situation is “a little less clear”. It does look like Joel Ward has earned an NHL job:
Among players still with the team are prospect forwards Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Jones, as well as Ward, who was an offseason signee.
Trotz said it looks like all three players will be on the opening-night roster, with Ward being the biggest surprise of training camp.
“He’s been really strong on the defensive side of the puck and really strong on the wall,’’ Trotz said. “He might be as good on the wall as anyone we have. He’s shown poise, lot of attention to detail, a commitment in terms of doing the right thing.’’
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