Projecting the Predators for the coming year will be difficult and it will be a decision between whether or not we think that the group of new faces will meld together with the existing talent and themselves. The projected roster we have here is likely far from what is going to be iced, because there is quite a bit of young talent that will get a long look, but we'll be giving it our best guess.
Of course, these projections will likely be changing towards the hockey pool draft, more signings, movements and promotion/demotions will all have an effect on this team.
|Forwards||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Defense||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit||Goaltenders||14/15 Proj||Cap Hit|
|James Neal||55||5.000||Shea Weber||60||7.857||Pekka Rinne||80||7.000|
|Mike Ribeiro||55||1.050||Roman Josi||35||4.000||Carter Hutton||5||0.725|
|Olli Jokinen||45||2.500||Seth Jones||25||0.925|
|Craig Smith||40||2.000||Anton Volchenkov||15||1.000|
|Calle Jarnkrok||40||0.715||Victor Bartley||5||0.667|
|BUYOUTS & OTHER||0.000|
|Filip Forsberg||40||0.894||Mattias Ekholm||15||1.038||Marek Mazanec||5||0.610|
First Round Picks
If you're expecting a return to form for goaltender Pekka Rinne, like I am, then he is a lock for a first round selection in your pool, as he would be in mine, assuming we're 24 teams deep again this year. Rinne will have a different team in front of him, which may have its growing pains, but I think he has some real potential to reach some excellent point levels again.
Last year, there was a big push on defensemen and there was some boosting of numbers for some, which leads me to believe that a guy like Shea Weber could find himself in a spot where he could float up to a low-first round spot, given the right circumstances.
Most Intriguing or Breakout Player
Acquired from the Detroit Red Wings at the trade deadline, forward Calle Jarnkrok has some real potential to be a gifted offensive forward and he strikes me as the most intriguing player on this Nashville team, going into the 2015 season. Jarnkrok was a 2nd round pick in 2010 for Detroit and played in 12 games for the Predators after the trade, scoring 2 goals and 9 points in the process. I have him projected for a late-round pick in the draft and given the new direction of this Nashville team, it could play in his favour.
Other Pool Worthy Forwards
The addition of James Neal from Pittsburgh does give the Predators a natural goal-scorer and a trigger man for anyone who can get him the puck. Nashville also added a guy who can dish the puck in Mike Ribeiro, so these two will be looked upon to carry the offense early on in the season. Yet another addition in Olli Jokinen should add a bit of punch to the second line, while a player who actually played in Nashville last season, Craig Smith, may not find the same kind of numbers, since he has dropped down in the depth chart a little bit to these new faces. This isn't your normal looking Predators team, as they may have a little bit more bite up front this season.
Other Pool Worthy Defense
In support of Weber on the offensive front will be Roman Josi, who emerged as a solid option from the back end, but I can see a slight drop, since teams will be better prepared to shut him down in 2015. Sophomore Seth Jones got a good taste of the NHL in his rookie campaign, playing in 77 games and I think he can replicate his 25-point season.
In behind Rinne, it may be a really good battle between the two goalies who fought it out for the number one job in Rinne's absence. Carter Hutton will probably go in with a leg up on the job, but Marek Mazanec did impress in some games, but just wasn't nearly as consistent. In the end, the battle may not matter for us poolies, since Rinne is going to eat up so many minutes, it will be hard to even catch a glimpse of their goaltending depth.
Team To Pick From Late?
The Predators are not normally a team that you would associate with scoring a lot of goals or finding key pieces to your hockey pool team from, but you may be able to find a gem in there somewhere. Matt Cullen, Colin Wilson or even another newcomer, Derek Roy, could feature late in the draft.
Unsigned Players and Salary Cap
Salary cap-wise, the Predators are a budget team and their projected roster above is only sitting marginally above the cap floor and they only have one major restricted free agent to deal with in defenseman Ryan Ellis. Ellis will likely be in line for a bridge deal, as he really tries to find that solid footing as an offensive defenseman in the NHL and if he signs a short-term deal to get him there, both he and the Predators could really benefit.
One key injury to note, as forward Mike Fisher won't start the year in the Predators' line-up, as he suffered an Achilles injury and won't be available until halfway through the season, at the very least. His projections have been tempered to allow for his late return.