The off-season has been a long and interesting one for the Nashville Predators. They gained a new head coach in Peter Laviolette, but lost a few familiar faces, such as Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. The loss of Hornqvist and Spaling did give way to an exciting new touch of offense in former-Pittsburgh Penguin James Neal. Long-story short: The Nashville Predators are a brand new hockey team.
The first, and biggest, change came when General Manager David Poile decided to part ways with coach Barry Trotz. Trotz had been with the team since its induction into the NHL in 1997. Trotz had done some good things with the team in that 15-year span, but the Predators had not made the playoffs in the past two seasons, so it was time for a change. Welcome in Peter Laviolette. Laviolette brings in a pro-offense and pro-youth stance, which is a complete turn-around from the way Trotz controlled the team. Laviolette also has proof-of-concept in the Stanley Cup ring that he is the proud owner of. If there is anything the Predators need, its change, and they have found a good foundation in Laviolette.
Along with a new coach, the Predators signed four new players during the off-season. All four players were added to the team on one-year contracts, so its all low-risk for the Predators. The team added forwards Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy, & Olli Jokinen, along with defensemen Anton Volchenkov. The team also gained forward James Neal at the cost of fan-favorite Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. While Neal will cost the team $5 million this coming season, he is definitely the spark of offensive that the Predators need.
Two young, but very talented forwards will also have a big impact on the team this season: Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok.
Forsberg was gained by the Predators for forward Martin Erat who went to the Washington Capitals. While Forsberg has only played 18 games over two seasons with the Predators and has 6 points to show for it, he is a very talented skater who can add to the Predators’ offense. He has also played 47 games with Nashville’s farm-team, the Milwaukee Admirals, where he has combined for a total of 34 points. Once he forms some chemistry with his line-mates in Nashville, I’m sure he’ll gain his footing.
Calle Jarnkrok came from the Detroit Red Wings when David Legwand waived his no-trade clause with Nashville after learning he would likely not be resigned by the team. Jarnkrok immediately made his NHL debut and played in 12 games during the 2013-2014 season. He notched 2 goals, 7 assists and a +7 rating over those games and made in instant impact among the team and fans alike.
Fans were excited to see the new talent Nashville had added when the 2014-2015 NHL pre-season began on September 23rd. The Predators played a total of six games between September 23rd and October 4th, four of which were at home, including a double-header against the Florida Panthers. Nashville went 4-and-2 during the pre-season, scoring 11 goals on their opponents. A majority of the pre-season games were played by many of the AHL players hoping to make a spot on the team’s final roster, so hopefully Nashville’s offense has a bigger boost than what fans saw over those six games.
Finally, the Predators have announced their Opening Night roster.
(Forwards Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg have been placed on Injury Reserve while forward Mike Fisher was designated as a non-roster player due to an off-season injury. This finalizes the roster at 22 players.)