Nashville Predators. Mandatory Credit: George Walker IV/The Tennessean via USA TODAY NETWORK
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The Nashville Predators will look to build upon a number of franchise highs reached last season.
The Nashville Predators put on a show for the Smashville fans last year. It was a season where we saw a massive trade for a number one center, a breakout year for Filip Forsberg, an upset over The Ducks, and a tough 7 game series with the Sharks.
After yet another blockbuster trade during the summer that involved Shea Weber and P.K. Subban, it feels like all people can think about is the start of hockey and that home opener against The Blackhawks.
With excitement in the air and October just around the corner, it beckons the question: what can we expect of our Nashville Predators this season? As most of us saw with the Tennessee Volunteers nearly falling to Appalachian State, hype can be a killer when you’re not prepared to take it by the reigns and run with it.
The Preds have experienced some success, but do they understand what it takes to move on and win? Let’s go ahead and take a look at what I expect from Predators this season:
Nashville Predators Filip Forsberg Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Forsberg Will Score More than 33 Goals
Filip Forsberg started off his sophomore season a bit slow and worrisome. But a fire came to light beneath him, and along side Mike Ribeiro and Craig Smith, Forsberg was able to tie Jason Arnott‘s franchise record for most goals in a season with 33. His first two full seasons in Nashville have been an amazing time to watch a superstar in the making.
Forsberg is only 22 years old and agreed to a six-year $36 million dollar contract this offseason. He’s still young and David Poile was smart enough to sign him to a long-term deal that keeps him here for the majority of his prime years. I don’t want to get too ahead of myself because too often in sports I set high expectations for my teams only to be let down.
With that being said, I don’t find 40 goals out of Forsberg’s reach. He has the talent and if he was lighting up the scoreboard all last season he very well may have hit 40 plus.
This young man is going to break franchise records for years to come as our franchise forward- and finally, Nashville has a pure goal scorer who’s just going to get better and better.
Roman finished last season with 14 goals, 47 assists, and 61 points in 81 games. Whether he is paired up with P.K. Subban or Ryan Ellis, I believe Josi will continue his growth and become The Guy on defense. Josi is a smooth and fast puck-handling defenseman, and now with the trade of Weber to Montreal, Josi can step out of his large shadow.
As Predator fans we’ve experienced multiple seasons where we believed Shea Weber deserved to win the Trophy for the best overall defenseman, only to be disappointed season after season as Shea fell just short. Josi will break that curse one day, but this next season will not be it. Even with improved linemates, Josi will fall short of winning, but will achieve a second or third placing.
Nashville Predators Colin Wilson. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Wilson Will Remain Playoff Wilson
I hope I’m wrong about this one, but I don’t see any change in the consistency of Colin Wilson during the regular season.
Wilson’s last two years have been Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde type seasons. Two years ago he scored 44 points (20 goals, 22 assists) in 77 games before notching 5 goals in 6 games in the playoffs.
Then after receiving a contract extension, Wilson regressed to marking 6 goals and 18 assists in 64 games, followed by a 5 goal and 8 assist performance through 14 games in the playoffs.
Regular season consistency is the big question mark for Colin Wilson this season. With the expansion draft coming up it’s possible Colin will be made available if he isn’t able to become the player the Nashville Predators hoped for when the drafted him in the first round. Wilson’s struggles last season could be due to injury issues he was dealing with, but he still only came away with 6 goals in 64 games.
Colin Wilson will put up some average numbers up this season. I expect around 15 goals which will be an improvement but not what we will hope for. Once the Preds make the playoffs we will see Colin Wilson at his best.
He will provide the much-needed spark that will help continue our postseason push. But will being only Playoff Colin Wilson be enough to keep him past this season?
This is a very bold prediction seeing that the Preds have never passed the second round. In fact, the Preds have only made it to the second round three times.
The reason I believe in this year’s team is because of the key pieces that make this team such a threat: goal scorers like Filip Forsberg and James Neal, a playmaker in Ryan Johansen, and a strong two-way top 4 defensive unit with Josi, Subban, Ekholm, and Ellis. This group along with solid pieces around them makes this a truly dangerous team next season.
I believe this group can finish in the top three of the central division and earn some home ice advantage this season. The only question mark on if the Predators ability to reach the Western Conference Finals: Pekka Rinne.
Rinne hasn’t been the same elite goalie these last couple seasons, but with the upgrade in talent around him, do we need him to be élite?
My opinion? We don’t need him to be elite. We don’t even need him to be great. What we need is Peks to be, is just good enough.
Good enough to steal some games not only in the regular season, but also in the postseason. We don’t have to rely on Pekka being incredible anymore because of the enhanced talent surrounding him. To make it to the Western Conference Finals we need our stars to shine and we need our guys, including Pekka, to make the right plays at the right time.