Category Archives: Predators

April showers bring May flowers: who has the best chance of coming back in Round 2?

As the hockey season moves from April to May, the playing field shrinks. Currently eight teams remain, but soon enough the group will whittle down to four.

As of now, Pittsburgh, Washington, Ottawa, New York (Rangers), St. Louis, Nashville, Edmonton, and Anaheim remain. For these series, Pittsburgh leads Washington 2-0, Ottawa leads New York 2-0, Nashville leads St. Louis 2-1, and Edmonton leads Anaheim 2-1. Each of these are far from over, however the odds have begun to shift to the favor of one team per series. But the questions that begs is who, of the teams currently down in a series, has the best chance of making a comeback and advancing to the Conference Finals?

For me, it’s the New York Rangers. Although their defense, with the likes of Holden, Staal, and Girardi, is shaky, their lightning quick offense and superstar goalie could be enough to propel them on a run past Ottawa.

The Rangers and Senators have been locked in a back-and-forth series through the first two games. In Game 1, Erik Karlsson scored the game winner from the goal line with 4:11 left in regulation. Game 2 was a barn burner that resulted in a 6-5 Senators win in double overtime. The games cannot be defined as anomalies by any means, but regardless the series is not over by any stretch of the imagination.

To win the series, the Rangers need Henrik Lundqvist to go into Conn Smythe form. His save percentage in the series so far is .888, but not all of that can be attributed to him. The defensive core in front of him is less than ideal, but that is the Rangers mantra. They need Lundqvist to bail them out, which is something he did not do in Game 2.

In terms of the other teams, this is not to say that they do not have a chance to come back in the series. Each team is in the second round for a reason.

Anaheim is a rigid, experienced team that needs to take advantage of that fact against Edmonton. But, Connor McDavid and Cam Talbot are unbelievable players capable of turning a series in an instant (which they have done already). 

St. Louis is in the same category as Anaheim to a sense, but Nashville is playing great right now. The series against the Blues has not come as easy as the series against Chicago did, but it is hard to bet against the Predators currently. They are using their fast paced tactics to their advantage perfectly. 

Lastly, Washington has fallen into a deep hole with Pittsburgh once again. It’s hard to go against the Penguins right now given Washington’s history in the second round and against Pittsburgh in general. If they can overcome this challenge, it’s hard to argue against the fact that they will win the Cup. But it’s one hurdle at a time for Alex Ovechkin at company. 

Of the teams down currently, who do you think has the best chance of moving on to the second round?

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles 

Eight teams that should protect four defensemen in the expansion draft 

In next summer’s expansion draft, teams have two options in which to protect their players. One is protecting seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. The other choice is protecting eight skaters and one goalie. The former gives you more players to protect but you risk losing a top-four defenseman, whereas the latter allows you to hold onto that fourth (or fifth, if you so please) defenseman, but you are losing out on protecting two top-six forwards. It is a calculated risk that teams have to weigh, and there are eight teams that should choose to take the second option and protect four defensemen.  Read the rest of this entry

Recap: Hall/Larsson and Subban/Weber trades, plus Stamkos’ signing 

Yes — we are just as confused as you are. 

In thirty minutes, the course of the next NHL season changed dramatically. In what was likely the biggest flurry of trades in NHL history, PK Subban, Taylor Hall, Shea Weber, and Adam Larsson were all dealt. Not to mention Steven Stamkos re-signed in Tampa Bay. 

So let’s start at the first trade of the day. New Jersey acquired Taylor Hall from Edmonton in exchange for Adam Larsson. This was a desperate move met by a lot of scrutiny, mostly rightful, by Peter Chiarelli. With trading chips such as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle, a deal involving Taylor Hall shouldn’t have been necessary. Adam Larsson is a solid young defender, but nowhere near the caliber of defenseman that should have been brought in for Taylor Hall. 

Regardless, this likely makes Edmonton the firm landing spot for Milan Lucic. That’s not to say Lucic is a formidable replacement for Taylor Hall, but it is what is going to happen.  

As for New Jersey, they get a bonafide first line winger. They’ve been devoid of scoring for a few years now and this is a tremendous pickup. 

Just a few minutes later, rumblings from Nick Kypreos came out that PK Subban could be on the move. That happened a few minutes later when he was traded to Nashville in exchange for Shea Weber. 

This is a mind boggling deal. Subban is a better player than Weber, who has significantly declined over the past few years. Weber will also be turning 31 at the start of the season and still has ten years left on his deal. It’s hard to find a rationale from Bergevin’s side when looking at this trade. 

From Nashville’s side, it is a fantastic trade. They get a younger, dynamic defenseman in Subban who can anchor their top-four for years to come. Ryan Ellis, PK Subban, Matthias Ekholm, and Roman Josi is a scary defensive corps. 

Moving on from trades, the Lighting also announced that they had re-signed big fish free agent Steven Stamkos to a eight year, 8.5 million per deal. This is a lower AAV than what other teams may have given him, but with no state income tax in Florida, he’ll earn a lot more than he would elsewhere. 

This changes Friday’s gameplan drastically. Almost every team was going to take a shot at Stamkos, so now they all have to revert to Plan B. David Backes and Frans Nielsen just moved up the leaderboard big time. 

Stay tuned for more NHL news, because I’m sure we’ll get some. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Trade Possibility: Jordan Staal

As the Hurricanes continue in their transition period, another familiar name could be on the move. It has been reported that Jordan Staal has been shopped around, only months after brother Eric was dealt to the New York Rangers.  Read the rest of this entry

Nashville and Florida are set to go on the aggression at the trade deadline 

As we know, the trade deadline is rapidly approaching and teams are beginning to decide their plans of action. The Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers are expected to be two teams on the aggression come February 29th. 

The Nashville Predators currently sit one point out of a playoff spot behind the Colorado Avalanche and two points behind the Minnesota Wild. Anaheim and Vancouver are knocking on the door behind them by three points, but the Pacific Division makes it a weird case. 

Despite already pulling off the biggest trade of the year with Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones, the Predators are expected to continue trying to add pieces over this next month. Granted, they’ve found themselves out of the playoff picture partly due to Pekka Rinne’s poor play (.906 SV%), but the team still needs to add offense. 

Loui Eriksson has been a name that has popped up there recently. He is looking for a long term deal with a lot of cash, so he’d likely be a rental over anything. Another player the Predators should explore going after is Teddy Purcell from Edmonton. Purcell currently has 29 points in 50 games for the Oilers. He would be one of the cheaper options. 

I wonder what Nashville is going to do with college standout Jimmy Vesey. He is set to be able to become a free agent this summer and Nashville still hasn’t signed him. He is tearing it up in Harvard as he has the past few years. Would he be a good trade chip if teams are willing to risk losing him? The Predators don’t seem to be in a good position to sign him as of now. 

The Panthers are in a similar boat to Nashville although they are poised to be even more aggressive. Everyone, including most recently Pierre LeBrun, have pegged them as a perfect landing spot for Andrew Ladd. Reports out of Florida indicate that they have no interest in him, but I’m not so sure you can buy into that. He would come at a hefty price, but Tallon knows him from Chicago and he has only gotten better since then. 

Vancouver and Calgary also pose intriguing options with Radim Vrbata and Jiri Hudler respectively. Both players are set to be free agents this summer, however both teams can still squeeze out a playoff birth in the Pacific, Vancouver more likely. These next few weeks will determine whether these two men make it to the market and I would not expect a deal to be made before February 29th. 

This trade deadline is set to be an exciting one, not just for Panthers and Predators fans. We should have a lot to talk about. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

The Oilers missed a golden opportunity to trade for Seth Jones 

The Columbus Blue Jackets traded Ryan Johansen to the Predators earlier today in exchange for Seth Jones. This is one of those deals that works out for both teams on paper and likely will on the ice, too. But there was one loser: the Edmonton Oilers. 

It’s no secret that Edmonton needs defense. They have McDavid, Draisaitl, Hall, Yakupov, Eberle, and Nugent-Hopkins up front, but have had a tough time keeping puck out of their own net. They have given up the third most goals in the league, although bright spots like Darnell Nurse have helped pad that stat a little. The Oilers missed out on a big chance today with Seth Jones. 

The ideal player at this point to be traded for defense is Jordan Eberle, but that hasn’t picked up steam in quite some time. With McDavid and Draisaitl (a natural center) in the wings, it may not have been a bad idea to try to swing a Nugent-Hopkins for Seth Jones trade. I’m sure they tried, but they could’ve gotten the deal done if they really wanted to I presume. 

Nugent-Hopkins was the first overall pick in 2011 and has 216 points in 298 NHL games. Johansen, the fourth overall pick in 2010, has 193 points in 309 games. Pretty similar numbers, although RNH has the slight advantage. 

Peter Chiarelli probably didn’t want to part ways with a stud center, but that’s the give you need to take away a stud defenseman like Seth Jones. The Oilers year hasn’t gone well and playoffs are a long shot, and the Connor McDavid injury didn’t help. If they could’ve gotten Jones to add to Nurse, while picking up another forward in the draft to play alongside McDavid, Draisaitl, Hall, Eberle and Yakupov in the top-six, they could’ve been in good position for next year. 

The Oilers are going to have to break up their forward group eventually to improve on the back end and they may have missed their best opportunity here, even if it meant adding another small asset on top of Nugent-Hopkins. 

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

Nashville Inks Ribeiro, Roy

Nashville may have just signed the two biggest bargains of the offseason. Early Tuesday, exactly two weeks after free agency started, Nashville inked centers Derek Roy and Mike Ribeiro to one year deals, Roy to a 1m dollar contract and Ribeiro to a 1.05m dollar contract. Roy split time with Dallas, Vancouver, and St. Louis over the past two seasons, and Ribeiro spent time in Washington and Phoenix in that time.

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Fisher’s Injury Leaves Nashville Scrambling for Centers

Nashville has been singing the offensive blues in the past decade, and mostly, it’s because of Barry Trotz. But after Trotz was fired after last season, and the second coach in franchise history was hired, and the Laviolette era began, Nashville began searching for some offense.

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