Nashville Predators: A Team to be Taken Seriously

As week one of the NHL season comes to an end, teams around the league are starting to establish themselves as forces. In some cases, it is obvious that certain teams have already developed chemistry, or that the chemistry from last season has carried over. This article will take a special look at the Nashville Predators, as it argues that they are in fact a team to be taken seriously.

The Predators surprised many last year by finishing second in their division, and sixth overall in the NHL. The Preds went from 88 points in 2013-14, to 104 points in 2014-15. Despite this clear jump in success from year to year, many didn’t consider the Preds to be a contender. This year, however, the Nashville Predators should absolutely be a feared team in the NHL, and this article will explain why.

As the old adage goes; defence wins championships. If you’re a believer of this statement, take a look at the Nashville Predators’ defence corps. You can start by naming the obvious one, Shea Weber. Weber is not only the captain of the Predators, he is also the cornerstone of their defensive group, and the role model for young Preds’ defencemen. Shea Weber is a two-time Olympian and four-time all-star… so I guess you could say he’s pretty good.

Oct 10, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber (6) during the first period against the Edmonton Oilers at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The future of the Predators defence is bright, with up and coming stars such as Seth Jones, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. Seth Jones was selected fourth overall in the 2013 NHL entry draft, and has displayed snippets of brilliance in his first couple of years in the league. Roman Josi has legitimized himself as a solid top-pairing defenceman in the NHL, as he has had two very successful seasons, stat wise, and as he has gained lots of experience playing alongside Shea Weber. Ellis and Ekholm are both young defencemen with lots of upside as they gain experience at the professional level.

The remarkable thing about the four Predators defencemen listed above (Jones, Josi, Ellis and Ekholm), is that they are all 25 years of age or younger. This shows that the defence of the Nashville Predators will be strong for years to come, if in fact they can get all of these young stars contracts.

Though the future of the Preds’ defence corps may be extremely bright, this article concerns itself with the present. Presently, the Nashville Predators have one of the better defence corps in the NHL, they have a few bright young stars up front, and they have a great goaltender in Pekka Rinne. The video that follows depicts a Predators win that can be expected: low scoring, tight defence.

The Nashville Predators aren’t a team that will concede many goals. The issue with the Preds’, is that they are going to need to find a way to score goals. Predators General Manager, David Poile, looked like a genius this past season as his trade that sent declining forward Martin Erat and prospect Michael Latta to the Washington Capitals started paying off. The Predators received prospect Filip Forsberg in return, and Forsberg put up 26 goals and 63 points in 2014-15. Forsberg and fellow young scorers like James Neal and Craig Smith are the ones who will be looked at to carry the offence this season. The Predators have some secondary scoring up front coming from Mike Ribeiro, Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher, all of whom had solid seasons point-wise in 2014-15.

Oct 10, 2015; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators players celebrate after a win against the Edmonton Oilers at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won 2-0. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

If the Predators get scoring from these three forwards young forwards and from their supporting cast, and if they get solid defensive hockey from their young developing defencemen with support from Pekka Rinne, the Predators are absolutely a force to be reckoned with. They have started their 2015-16 season at 3-0-0, and are looking to replicate their 100-plus season from just a year ago. Though there still may be some doubters, the Nashville Predators are a team that could do some legitimate damage in the NHL this season.

The question becomes: Can the Predators compete with powerhouses such as Chicago, Anaheim, Tampa Bay, New York etc. The answer to said question lies in the hands of players like Filip Forsberg. If Forsberg gan have the type of year that he had last season, the Predators will definitely be in the discussion of teams that can go deep in the playoffs. However, this puts a lot of pressure on the shoulders of such a young player.

Despite all of this potential, some may still be sceptical of the Predators ability to go far in the playoffs. No matter your opinion, one thing is for sure; If the Nashville Predators can lock up some of their young talent, they will be a contender in years to come.