Nashville Predators Guide for the 2019 Offseason

The 2018-2019 season has come and gone and with the Nashville Predators failing for a second consecutive year to replicate the magic of the 2016-2017 Stanley Cup run. The question now is what does a team with this much talent do now? After all, this is the quite possibly the most talented Preds team in franchise history.

For starters, it’s time to cut some of the experimental deadline acquisitions loose. Wayne Simmonds was a ghost after joining the team. Simmonds, at one point, was hoping for $7 mill a year for his next contract, but after recording only three points in seventeen games, it seems unlikely that he will catch anything close to that, especially since there are younger and much bigger fish in the pond this offseason. While It’s not irrelevant to factor in how much Simmonds struggled with injuries which may have caused some of the problems he had this season, those concerns may drop his price even further.

Brian Boyle is the other player id expect to not be seen in the gold and blue next year. While being significantly cheaper than Simmonds, Boyle was brought in to help on the powerplay and with 6 of his 13 goals coming on the man advantage before the trade, hope was restored to the Nashville faithful. Instead, Boyle added just one powerplay goal in 26 games. To make matters worse, Nashville didn’t score a single goal in the playoffs while on the man advantage. While Boyle was a big body and a big presence physically, that alone does not justify bringing Boyle back unless it was for a cheap contract and a limited role.

Now that that’s been established, the Preds need to figure out what to do about their powerplay woes. While a popular opinion among fans is to bring back former assistant coach Phil Housley it may not be the most likely scenario. The recently fired head coach would be a welcomed sight in Nashville, as he was initially brought in to Nashville to help generate offense from the blue line and assist offensive development from defensemen. And while that would be nice, to have Housley back, it’s hard to see him returning to being an assistant coach this quickly. It’s reasonable to expect him to take another stab at running a team from the bench.

As far as units are concerned, a lot of change should happen but probably won’t. According to the last game Nashville played, the powerplay units were as followed.
Powerplay unit one: JoFA, Ekholm, and Josi.
Powerplay Unit two: Granlund, Bonino, Smith, Ellis, and Subban.
As deadly as the JoFA line is, I think it may be time to officially break up the band. Or at least, move them around. For instance, the Johansen, Arvidsson and Grimaldi line at times looked like the ideal line, with the combination of two speedy, high motor wingers and a deadly accurate elite playmaker dishing the puck to them. That is a lethal combination. The thing that interests me about that second unit, is that all three players have played center at one point or another. While that is great for mixing up who is taking the faceoff, it may hurt their scoring ability. After all, are any of those players known for goal scoring? No. Even if a player like Forsberg dropped down to that unit, I don’t think it’s enough.

The powerplay is without a doubt the key area that needs to be addressed. While that may not require any moves to fix, it’s likely that Nashville looks to add another outside talent to boost special teams as a whole. While flashy names like Panarin and Duchene have fans attention, a less expensive player may fit the team’s future needs more. But we will put a pin in that for now. The main point of this section is that whatever Nashville does do, it needs to be a decision made calmly. After all, fans are calling for players such as Subban, Turris, Ellis and more to be traded, and while fans are just fans, they do impact a GM or head coaches job security to some extent. That is troublesome as it may force a move in order to appease the Nashville faithful.

Lastly, whatever the front office decides to do this summer, figuring out next year’s pending free agents needs to be near the top of the list. Nashville has a total ten players who are relevant to semi-relevant to the team’s success ( Granlund, Smith, Watson, Salomaki, Pitlick, Gaudreau, Josi, Hamhuis, Weber, and Irwin) whose contracts will be expiring. A lot of decisions will have to be made before next summer. Three bottom pairing defensemen will be on expiring deals, and with it looking like there will only be one spot, I imagine only one will stay. The decision will probably come down to either Irwin or Weber as it is not unreasonable to think that Hamhuis will retire. Josi will most likely be staying (for a substantial raise) as he is the team’s captain. Similar to Josi, it is reasonable to expect that Smith, Pitlick, and Granlund will be returning to the team unless some expansion draft troubles occur. The real decision will come when it’s time to decide whether or not to keep role players like Watson, Salomaki, and to some extent Freddie Gaudreau. While these players are without a doubt, at least fringe NHLers, will it be time to move on to make space for some of the players who will be coming up through the minor’s system? Time will tell but watch for next season’s playoff run to be what ultimately decides who stays and who goes.

Cap analysis of the Nashville Predators

 

Just a brief look at the numbers will show that the Preds have around $4 million in cap space but that doesn’t really paint the whole picture. Things may look one way now, but after salaries change over next year and injuries end, we could be looking at a completely different cap situation

 

The first thing to look at is that in the 2018-2019 NHL Season the Preds lead the league in money given to forwards with $51 mill, or just over 64% of the cap. That number is mainly big due to the fact that in the past two seasons, we have seen big name players such as Forsberg, Arvidsson, and Johansen all given decent pay raises. After all, adding that along with mid-level contract players such as Turris, and Granlund and its easy to see why Nashville has invested so much into forwards. Next, the Preds rank in the late teens in the league on money given to defensemen. Granted, that does not factor in Ellis’ extension which will add $4 mill to his cap hit.  Lastly the Preds pay roughly 10% of the cap to Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros for their services but there’s not much else to expand on

 

Now that the general overview is the Preds have ten expiring contacts this year. Four of them are non-roster players such as Di Giuseppe, Kirkland, Schneider and Gaudet. Of those four I would expect Di Giuseppe and Kirkland to be retained but if not both of them, then Kirkland for sure. For the six players who are on roster, you can expect Zac Rinaldo, Cody McLeod and Wayne Simmonds to not return as those players were acquired for a very specific purpose.

 

With the gained cap from letting those players walk, which isn’t much since Simmonds is the only one of those players who makes above $750,000, the Preds will have to give extensions to younger role players Colton Sissons and Rocco Grimaldi. While Grimaldi won’t receive a big raise or anything and will stay around his league minimum deal, I’d expect Sissons to look for a deal that’s similar to Calle Járnkrok, as he has performed in a role much like Járnkrok did before receiving his contract.  I wouldn’t expect the term to be the same, but I could see the Preds offering Sissons a three-year deal worth $2-3 million.  Things get a little hazy with Brian Boyle as it would not be surprising to either see him walk into free agency or be retained to lock down that forth line center. But that’s something to keep an eye on when it comes time for Nashville to actually lock up Sissons.

 

Now for the fun stuff, the changes that will happen next season. Starting off on a good note, the 2018-2019 season is the last season where Nashville will be paying Viktor Stalberg to not play for them. That alone will add one million dollars to the cap space. In addition to that, it will help offset the increase in Ellis’ cap hit. That cap hit by the way, jumps from the “very team friendly” price of $2.5 mil a year, to the “not as team friendly but still sort of team friendly” price of $6.25 mil a year. That may seem like a lot, but honestly, Ellis and his magnificent facial hair could’ve seen up to $8 mil a year on the open market, so it hurts, but at least it’s not, more right? Ellis’ cap hit is really the only one that goes up. He is actually only one of two players whose cap hit changes. The other one is Pekka Rinne who will go from a $7 mil a year down to a $5 mil a year player, which is by definition a steal. Regardless of how his…. slump is looking, can you find me a better option at that price, Because I’ll wait.

 

Overall, there is absolutely no reason to panic at the moment when talking about Nashville’s cap hit. So, we as fans can hold off on the panic button until next year when the Preds have to sign Craig Smith, Mikael Granlund, Austin Watson, Rem Petlick, Frederick Gaudreau, Roman Josi, Matt Irwin, Yannick Weber, Yakov Trenin, and Alexandre Carrier. They will have to accomplish this with an estimated $23 mil in space, so keep that panic button close by.

What Deadline Day Moves Impact the Preds the Most?

by Thomas Sarver

In one of the most exciting trade deadlines to date, it was easy to get lost in all the commotion. When your team’s GM makes two major trades during the last twenty minutes is absolutely a fair reason to not really notice what other teams had done/ were doing. Needless to say, the Preds were not the only busy team this year.

Dallas Stars

Key Players moved in/out: Mats Zuccarello, Ben Lovejoy

These are really solid moves for really solid players. Dallas did catch a bit of bad luck as Zuccarello went down in his first game and will miss around a month due to a broken arm, but Lovejoy remains and is a fantastic player to shore up this defensive unit.

All Dallas has to do is simply survive over Colorado or Minnesota. One of those two teams sold heavily at the deadline and the other did not make a move despite just ending a streak of games where they won four out of twenty-five games.

Given that information, I think it is safe to say that Dallas can squeak into the playoffs and may even possibly give Nashville/Winnipeg a rough time when they return back to being healthy.


Minnesota Wild

Key players moved in/out: Ryan Donato, Kevin Fiala/ Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund

Minnesota is attempting to rebuild. Good for them for being able to realize that they are not ready to go head to head in the “arms race” we are seeing in this division. Thankfully for their GM’s sake, Donato and Fiala are good pieces to get early on into your rebuild.

The bad news though is that Minnesota could’ve gotten much more for Granlund than just Fiala. I would’ve expected a pick to be attached with that. To make things worse for the Wild, as long as Suter and Parise remain on the team with those anchors called contracts, then the Wild will not be able to be relevant.


Nashville Predators

Key players moved in/out: Mikael Granlund, Wayne Simmonds/ Fiala, Hartman

Nashville moved two of its more exciting, younger players in order to get more matured and consistent versions. Granlund is the same player as Fiala, but the main difference is Granlund knows how to use his smaller frame to set up scoring chances and has some position flexibility, whereas Fiala easily can be bullied on the ice.  

On to part two. While Wayne Simmonds is slower and regressing at a fast pace, he is a bona fide game changer. Much like the first trade mentioned, Simmonds is a more matured version of Hartman and even though Simmonds is on the back burner of his career, he should be able to step in a give the third/ second powerplay lines a much-needed boost. This move makes me believe that Poile is trying to get Rinne a cup.


San Jose Sharks

Key players moved in/out: Gustav Nyquist

This team did pretty much all their trading for the season when they acquired Erik Karlsson before the first dropped puck. However, this is a sneaky good smaller move for San Jose.

For a second round and a conditional third pick, the Sharks were able to add another scoring option on the wing which just adds to the depth on this team. This one move doesn’t suddenly make them the best team in the league, but by judging all the moves made in the last 12 months, I’m assuming that San Jose is making another cup push this year and they think Nyquist is the missing piece.

I would not be surprised to see San Jose be one of the last four remaining teams this year.


Vegas Golden Knights

Key Players moved in/out: Mark Stone/ Erik Brannstrom

Vegas lost a really good prospect, but they just got a lot better. The Golden Knights haven’t looked bad this season, but they look nothing like the team we saw make the final in their first season. Acquiring Stone, who was the number one target at the deadline, is the type of move that can get this team back in gear.

When Vegas lost James Neal and David Perron last year in free agency, they lost two players who brought a distinct skill to the game and Stone will be able to help fill that void of scoring and two-way play that seems to be taking over on Vegas’ wings. Stone may be able to even step in as a captain in the future, especially since he has committed 8 years to the city and franchise.


Winnipeg Jets

Key Players moved in/out: Kevin Hayes/ Brendan Lemieux

Kind of weird to think about a team like Winnipeg and the trade deadline. This team who has one of the most stingy GM’s in the league when it comes to trades triggered a rule on Monday’s deadline due to trading. That rule is that teams are only allowed to make six trades in a twenty-four-hour period. What did Winnipeg do with all those trades? Pretty much nothing!

Getting Kevin Hayes has the potential to have the impact that Paul Statsny had as a rental last year and that’s what Winnipeg wants again. Unfourtatnly for Jets fans though, the Jets focused on adding more depth players who could be used in the event of an injury instead of getting another starting piece or two for the playoffs.

A day like this tells me that Winnipeg believes that they are the best team in the West and are just trying to make sure injuries don’t derail their chances at a cup before they lose their young core.


Those were the teams who made impacting moves when it comes to looking at the western playoff bracket. What is just as interesting though is that Chicago, St Louis, Colorado, and Calgary had relatively quiet deadline days and that Calgary was one of the last teams in on Stone. Thankfully for the rest of the West, that did not happen. But now that the trading season is over we will now be watching to see who actually won on deadline day and who lost.

Here is our quick take on what happened yesterday.

5 Players the Predators should be calling teams about.

by Thomas Sarver

UPDATE: As of the original time of publishing of this article, all of these players were available. Shortly after posting, both Ryan Dzingle (CBJ) and Mats Zuccarello (DAL) were traded. I guess that goes to show you how fast the NHL moves at the trade deadline.


As hockey fans, we are in one of the most exciting periods of the year. The trade deadline. This is where teams not only acquire the final pieces they need to make noise in the playoffs, it is also where teams fail and lose any chance of having a dynasty by overpaying for pieces. A true make or break moment. So, what are some pieces that would either A. be the final piece the Preds need to make a return to cup or B. impactful players that would not require Nashville to mortgage their future in order to acquire.


5 Wayne Simmonds

Kicking off this list with a name that everyone has seen before. Wayne Simmonds brings more grit which is something the Preds are not lacking now that they have Brian Boyle and Cody McLeod.

But what Simmonds also does is he brings an eye for scoring which is something Nashville could desperately use. Simmonds has been a twenty plus goal scorer since he moved to Philadelphia from L.A. (excluding the lockout season).

This is the type of production that Nashville could use to boost scoring on the midlines or the second powerplay unit and would not cost as much as other players for this role, due to his age and expiring contract. He also has a number of games played in the playoffs which adds to what he can bring to the table. You can never have too much experience.


4 Ryan Dzingel

Is it me, or do former late-round draft picks just play harder in general?

Dzingel, a former 7th round pick is really showing the Senators why they should’ve signed him to a deal longer than just two years. So far, Dzingel has followed up his impressive 2017-2018 campaign with a lights out campaign this season. In 57 games this season, he has put up 22 goals and 22 assists and already plays the role that Nashville would use him for.

At 26 years old, this is also the type of player that would be ideal to do a sign and trade with, especially since he would probably be looking for a mid-level contract instead of the high-level contracts that Panarin, Stone, or even Wayne Simmonds would be looking for.


3 Mats Zuccarello

Even though his career has not been the most consistent regarding point totals, this is a player who would not only boost the offensive side of the game but would also boost the Preds transition game.

A problem I’ve noticed with the Preds lately is there seems to be issues when Nashville goes to move the puck from defensive zone to offensive zone, and a player like Zuccarello would help raise the pace of play in a way that is similar to Arvidsson.

Also worth noting is also his ability to light up the scoreboard in the playoffs, most notably putting up 13 points in 25 games in the Rangers cup run. That may not seem like much but say he was on the Preds cup run team, that total would’ve made him tied for third on the team in scoring. So as far as bang for your buck goes, Zuccarello may provide the best bargain, especially when you put him on a semi-competent team.


2 Mark Stone

The name that most people were probably expecting to be first on this list. Stone is also probably the only remaining big piece that is going to be making a move this deadline as I doubt

Panarin will be moving now that Columbus has acquired Duchene. Since earning a full-time spot on the Ottawa Senators, Stone has put up at least 54 points in each season. He could probably have more, but he also hasn’t been able to play a full 82 game season yet in his career.

I feel like that’s something that doesn’t get enough attention, I mean we are talking about a player who would come in to help Nashville win the Stanley Cup. It really makes things difficult to do that when you have players who can’t stay healthy. Remember when Sissons was Nashville’s number one center in the Stanley Cup final?


1 Toronto Wingers

Andreas Johnsson and Kasperi Kapanen are unlikely to even get traded. This would only be a possibility if Nashville was willing to move one of their right-handed defensemen, which is also super unlikely.

In a crazy world where that was a possibility though, either one of these players would be able to step in and immediately help out in multiple aspects of the game. Both of whom are also in their first-year full year as a starter and on expiring deals.

They can only get better from here. When you factor in that Toronto is going to be preoccupied with signing Matthews and Marner while against the cap. Nashville may be able to take advantage of a young GM whose back is against the cap ceiling. On the downside, in order to get one of these players, Toronto would probably want one of Ellis, Ekholm, or Subban. You can make the argument for Fabbro, but Toronto is in win-now mode. I doubt Nashville would pull the trigger unless Toronto did, in fact, prefer acquiring Fabbro.

While I imagine a lot of people wanted Nashville to go out and get Matt Duchene or attempt to go out and get the remaining big fish like Panarin or Stone, I’m not sure that’s the best move. Nashville has seen first-hand with Chicago what happens when a team forgets to restock their minor team. Nashville has already traded away plenty of pieces like Girad, Kamenev, their first, second, and third-round pick in last year’s draft, so the number of tradeable pieces that Nashville has gotten significantly smaller than a lot of fans a willing to realize.

5 Deadline Players the Preds Should Avoid

by Thomas Sarver

When the Preds acquired Brian Boyle and Cody McLeod there was no denying that Preds no longer needed grit. In addition to that added grit, the Preds also got a boost on the powerplay with Boyle coming in with six powerplay goals on the season. That made him the team leader in powerplay goals.

While Cody McLeod only has one-real dimension to his game,  it is a bone-crushing one. In fact, McLeod’s mere presence as a player in the game makes opposing players have second thoughts when it comes to delivering a big hit.

Those reasons alone are the reason that these moves fit the Preds needs really well, but what are some pieces that the Preds should avoid acquiring.


#5 Micheal Ferland

With the smallest cap hit among rentals of his caliber, Ferland is automatically a very attractive rental. But unless you are willing to shell out a lot of money in the offseason to keep him, that is all he is, a rental. Ferland has a tremendous on-ice impact with his physicality and scoring ability.

While those qualities are very important, the Preds now have that impact with Brian Boyle. When you factor that in with the amount of interest there is in him all around the league, I’d expect the price to be sky high. Carolina has to make up for getting fleeced when they trade Jeff Skinner somehow right?


#4 Jakob Silverberg

A player that the Preds know all about, Silverberg is a mid-line goal scorer, which is a need for the Preds who have had trouble with secondary scoring this year. A hang-up though is that the soon to be rebuilding Ducks have not for sure declared that they are selling.

However, with buzz picking up around the league about Anaheim possibly trading long-time captain Ryan Getzlaf, I think it’s safe to say they will be selling sooner rather than later. If Anaheim pulls the trigger on going full rebuild, I expect them to express interest in Kevin Fiala. Fiala’s age and experience is something that Anaheim may want in order to limit their rebuild to only a couple of seasons.

While this all looks really attractive to fans as well since Fiala has been heavily criticized this season for not recapturing his goalscoring form from last year. Trading him for a goal scorer sounds ideal, but if Fiala is to be moved, it has to be for the right player, and Nashville can leverage Fiala to get a much more impactful player than Silverberg.


#3 Panarin

One of only nine active players who average at least a point per game, not much needs to be said about what Panarin brings offensively. Any team in the league could use a player with that game-breaking ability. The problem here, however, is the price.

The Blue Jackets are wanting fair value for their star winger, which is a lot. That makes this situation a big gamble as Panarin has been very insistent on which markets he wants to sign in.

Unfortunately, Nashville was not on the list, which makes him the best rental available, but at the end of the day, just a rental. So, with all of that in mind, the Blue Jackets would likely want this year’s first-round pick and Eeli Tolvanen for Panarin. The question is, would Panarin be the final piece?


#2 Duchene

My oh my has Matt Duchene made a comeback. Since arriving in Ottawa in the same three-team trade that sent Kyle Turris to Nashville, Duchene has been an elite player for the Senators.

Is Duchene only elite because Ottawa has a lack of weapons? When he was in Colorado, on a team with plenty of scoring options, he started to regress as the team added more and more weapons. He practically vanished.

Due to that, I have three concerns when I think about the Preds possibly trading for Duchene. Would Duchene be able to adjust well on a team where he would be the seventh or eighth scoring option instead of being the first or second?

If he can’t adjust well, would he be an upgrade over Turris or Bonino? Lastly, would a possible third line player be worth a first round pick, plus?


#1 Kovalchuk

My heart wants this. I want to see Kovalchuk in a Preds jersey, I won’t lie. I would prefer it if it was 2012 Kovalchuk though.

A six-year hiatus in the KHL has returned a very different Kovalchuk than the superstar we saw leave. The one thing that is not different though is his high salary. At $6.250 million a year for two more years, this contract is more than concerning enough to sink Kovalchuk’s trade value. 

It gets even worse when you factor in that he is a 35 years old athlete who is adjusting to a smaller rink than he is used to playing on. That being said, even though his return was way overhyped, his on-ice play hasn’t been terrible and makes you wonder what would happen if he was on a better team.

If it wasn’t for the term on his contract, Kovalchuk would be the ideal rental player for the playoffs this year.


To be completely honest, I would be more than happy with the Preds not making too many trades as we did not have a single pick in the first three rounds of last years draft. As important as acquiring the big pieces for the playoffs is, having young players to replace them the next year is just as important.

Preds Aquire big bodied center Brian Boyle to jumpstart deadline deals

The first major trade Nashville has made during the deadline window has happened! It’s happened! Nashville shipped off a second-round pick in 2019 for 12-season veteran center, Brian Boyle. Boyle immediately adds an impact with his 6’6 245-pound frame. Size isn’t everything, but it will certainly help in the playoffs!

Boyle also brings experience. Although not always on a playoff team, Boyle has 58 career games which are enough for him to not be a liability in April. In addition to his experience in general, Boyle also has experience on the powerplay and will provide quite the boost for this underwhelming Preds unit which ranks last in the league. Boyle’s 6 powerplay goals on the year automatically puts him as the team leader in powerplay goals which is his career best. Boyle’s ability to sit in front of the net due to his size is also a huge plus for the man advantage as it will create more and more opportunities. and for opposing teams, good luck trying to find someone to remove him.

Boyle has a slightly under average Corsi rating at 44.6% for his career but keep in mind that for someone who is now in the team lead for Powerplay goals, Boyle is a more defensive player. For his role id expect him to fill out that fourth line center role and get a nod on the powerplay just because of his stats there and his size.

Although this trade is a step in the right direction, and it is also benefited by the McLeod trade as the Preds can now put two of the toughest players in the league on one line. It is not the only moves needed to be made though, and I wouldn’t expect it to be either since a lot of buzz around the league is that Nashville is not done yet.

Why the Preds Powerplay isn’t​ all that powerful

by Thomas Sarver

The Nashville Predators powerplay has been beyond just a simple disappointment. It’s been the beginning, middle, and end to the Predators problems this year…unless we are talking about injuries…. but we are not.

Tied for the last place, this powerplay unit is just a shadow of what it was last year when they ranked sixth in the league, and to make things worse, the Preds have the third most power plays in the league with 177. To have that many opportunities on the man advantage and not be able to have more than a 13% success rate is more than enough to end a season early.

When you factor in that the league average powerplay percentage is 20.3 percent and then compare that to the 13.0% that Nashville has, it is absolutely crushing. In a scenario where the Nashville Predators, you know, the reigning Presidents trophy winners, and Stanley Cup contending team, had a league average powerplay. In that situation, the Preds would have a whopping 35 goals on the powerplay, instead of the 23 they actually have.

So, what’s the cause of the anchor that’s holding this team back from pure dominance?

Let’s start by looking at the units and break them down from there

Unit one:

LW Forsberg
C Johansen
RW Arvidsson
LD Josi
RD Smith

So, first things first, the JOFA line as the number one unit is a must. That line is simply too deadly when playing at even strength to not keep together when there is a powerplay. Now, after we have addressed the obvious thing about this line, the next glaring thing about this unit is that Smith is the fourth skater rather than a defenseman.

That’s normal for more offensive teams, to include a fourth forward and only have one defenseman but for most teams who deploy this tactic, you’ll see them load a player with a cannon of a shot on the blueline, a player like Ovechkin, Stamkos, or someone along those lines. Smith is not that. He is more of a player with a strong wrist shot instead of a real hard slap shot.

As you may notice when I get to unit two, Ellis is not on a powerplay unit at all, and to be honest, he would be a much better fit for Smith’s spot, Ellis has the strong shot, the puck management skills, and the passing to be a real quarterback on this powerplay…. But Smith is cool too I guess…

Unit two:

LW Sissons
C Bonino
RW Fiala
LD Ekholm
RD Subban

Ah, back to the good ole three forward and two d-men powerplay, the classic. The whole forward group is a little rough, I like Fiala but not with this supporting cast. I get Bonino’s placement due to Turris’ injury, but I think I’d rather see Sissons down the middle, and either Járnkrok or Hartman on the other wing instead of having Bonino there. I also really think that this is a unit it the main area that could really get a boost from a player acquired in a trade, so keep an eye out for a top 6 winger to possibly come in to help.

Other than that, an in-house option that would be interesting on the second unit is Rocco Grimaldi, his point totals are not all that great, but his on-ice impact is a major building block that may end in him being somewhat of a poor man’s Arvidsson, and that would be great for the powerplay.
Outside of the unit, I think the main problem is that the Preds Powerplay is stagnate. Meaning in last year’s powerplay we saw players shooting from more areas on the ice, especially in or near the faceoff circle this year which is really limiting scoring opportunities.

For example, during the most recent game against Dallas, P.K. Subban did not push into the faceoff circle area when given the opportunity. Even though the closest player was on the other side of the zone, P.K. sat near the blue line. This push forward would’ve opened up a much higher scoring chance and wouldn’t have compromised him defensively because all four of the Dallas Defenders were focused in on Ekholm and Fiala which stretched the players but condensed them into the right side of the zone.

I believe that is the main problem with the Preds powerplay, we can throw in how the players don’t seem ready for passes they receive as well, but the lack of awareness and desire to take advantage of free space on the ice is the real thing that is holding this powerplay back. I wouldn’t expect this unit to change with the roster as is, however, so the best we can hope for is that Eeli Tolvanen will be able to step in and give this unit a jumpstart.