Hockey World Blog

2015-16 Nashville Predators Season Preview

Last season the Predators were the top team in the West and were destined for a deep playoff run until Pekka Renne got hurt. His injury coincided with a late-season slide that caused them to fall to second in the Central. That led them to being victim No. 1 for Chicago en route to their Stanley Cup championship.

Things should be better this time around in the Music City, as they enter season No. 2 under Peter Laviolette. GM David Poile made some tweaks to the roster and those tweaks should keep the Predators a contender in the Western conference.

Up front, their offense should be improved compared to last season. Ranked 9th in the league last season, the Predators were led by Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribiero. Ribiero’s 62 points was his best since 2012, his last season in Dallas. For the Predators to avoid a late season slide the supporting cast has to put up better offensive numbers as only four players broke 40 points last season. Mike Fisher should easily reach that mark (and maybe even 50 points) as he had 39 points in 59 games. Newcomer Cody Hodgson won’t put up Ribiero-like numbers this season but he has shown that he can be a 20-goal, 40 point guy like he was two years ago in Buffalo. He’ll benefit being on a new team and a fresh environment.

The defense should be just as consistent as they were last season, if not slightly better. The only personnel move of note was subtracting¬†Anton Volchenkov and adding Barret Jackman. They’ll be led by offensive defensemen Shea Weber and Roman Josi. Last season they benefited from the handcuffs of the previous coaching regime and exploded for 30 goals and 100 points. Josi had career high’s in every major statistical category last season and should be able to challenge those same numbers this time around. Seth Jones is in his third season and he’ll continue to develop on the second unit comfortably.

In goal it’s Renne’s job. The X-Factor with him is can he stay healthy? He was one of the top goalies in the league last year and if he can maintain the heavy workload he’s expected to have he could contend for the Vezina. His 41 wins last season was second in the league and second-most in his career. If he plays a full season without being in the injured list, he’s good for at least 40 wins. He’ll have Carter Hutton as his backup as well as Marek Mazanec in Milwaukee further down the depth chart.

As for an outlook, the Predators mostly maintained their roster with a couple tweaks. They should be able to contend for the division considering the lineup changes Chicago and St. Louis had to make. Nashville has never won a division title and has a 2-8 playoff series record. This could be the year they get series win No. 3 and maybe even a first-ever Conference Final appearance could be in the works.

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