The Nashville Predators only look like a shell of an NHL team going into training camp here in September. Sure, they have a world class goaltender and one of the best defensemen in the game, but beyond that, they have some pieces in place, some better than others, but nothing that screams, "the Predators are playoff bound."
It looks like it will be a struggle to score key goals for Nashville, as there is a severe lack of top end goal scoring and/or playmaking in what will be the Predators top six and if they feel the need to throw some of their young prospects into the fire, they won't have much help out there.
As a poolie, I'm looking at the Predators and thinking that even Pekka Rinne and Shea Weber are not as safe of bets that they used to be, since carrying a team will likely be tiring by the end of the year, no matter how much they are getting paid this year. I would be very weary venturing to Nashville for picks, unless they are late and you're possibly looking for an unexplored bargain.
Team Table (Players sorted by 2013 points)
Pool Worthy Forwards (35+ Points)
It isn't like the Predators "won't" score goals at all, I'm sure they will score some goals. Granted, they will likely be in the bottom-third of the league in that statistic, but there will be goals. David Legwand looks like the best bet to be leaned upon in the forward ranks, while Colin Wilson isn't too far behind. By the projections above, I don't believe there will be many points to give away here.
Newcomers Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg will likely get all kinds of opportunities to succeed in Nashville, but then the questions become, who are they going to play with and what roles are they going to take on?
Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist have now found themselves at projections that would likely make them into late round picks, among the forward ranks.
Pool Worthy Defensemen (20+ Points)
I get the feeling that even with all the warnings about the Predators, Shea Weber is going to go early in a lot of drafts, because everyone wants that kind of guy that has some real point potential. Yes, he has it, but his team doesn't. I don't expect Weber to score 40 goals.
There will be some high expectations for Roman Josi, who signed a big contract in the off-season as a restricted free agent. The Predators gave him a $4 million cap hit for the next few years, so there will be some focus given to the young blueliner. I do have him pegged for some good points, assuming the pressure doesn't get to him.
Pool Worthy Goalies (25+ Points)
More so than most teams in the NHL, the Predators will be relying on their goalie, quite heavily. Pekka Rinne is a guy who has played a lot of minutes in the past and is likely prepared to do much of the same again in the 2014 season... at least until they have been knocked out of playoff contention. I don't know if there is a clear contender for a back-up for him, which is even more of a reason to just keep playing this year.
The number four overall pick in the 2013 draft, Seth Jones, should be given a lot of opportunities to shine this year in Nashville and could very well be a breakout player as a rookie. Also, with the lack of offensive talent among the veterans, a kid like Filip Forsberg, who the Predators acquired in the off-season from Washington for Martin Erat, could be a kid that shows enough to stick around. Those are two pretty good candidates.
Daniel Bang, who virtually came out of nowhere, to play 8 games for the Predators, picking up 2 assists, remains unsigned in the off-season. That's about it for Nashville.