Central Division Preview – 5th Place

In addition to the Red Wing’s player introductions I am doing leading up to the Season, I am going to do a Central Division preview starting with who I feel will finish in 5th place and finishing with a 1st place and 2nd place combined post.

nashville_predators_1999The 2008-2009 Predators began the season with low expectations. After a slow start, they made a strong push after the All-Star break and even with no movement at the trade deadline, the team found themselves still battling for a playoff spot into the last week of the season. Buoyed by the return of Steve Sullivan after almost two seasons recovering from a back injury, and the great play by the rookie goalie Pekke Rinne, the Predators finished with 88 points, finishing in 5th place in the Central and missing out on the playoffs for the first time since the 2003 – 04 season.

The off-season for the Predators saw little reason to raise their expectations for the upcoming season, mainly because of the lack of activity in the free agent market. The hope of them winning the first Stanley Cup playoff series in franchise history rides mainly on the health of Steve Sullivan and the ability of Pekke Rinne to repeat his fantastic rookie season. The Preds did’t lose a lot of talent during the off-season but they did lose a lot of depth, at both forward and defense.

This upcoming season will see an infusion of young talent into Nashville’s line-up from the minor leagues. The two players that should see quite a bit of  increased playing time are Jonathon Blum and Colin Wilson. Blum is coming off of a great season where he was defenseman of the year in Canadian Hockey League and Wilson is a elite prospect from Boston University, he scored 55 points in 47 games and led the Terriors to be the highest scoring team in the Hockey East Conference.

In an increasingly tough Central Division, I can find one upside for the Predators this season; the Liquid Ice Girls.  I am picking the Predators  to finish in 5th place.

Arrivals: Ben Eaves, C, Espoo Blues (Finland); Ben Guite, RW, Colorado; Peter Olvecky, LW, Minnesota.

Departures: Radek Bonk, C, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (Russia); Vernon Fiddler, C, Phoenix; Ville Koistinen, D, Florida; Drew MacIntyre, G, Atlanta; Scott Nichol, C, San Jose; Jed Ortmeyer, RW, San Jose; Antti Pihlstrom, LW, Farjestads BK Karlstad (Sweden); Greg Zanon, D, Minnesota.

Forwards

# Name Height Weight Date Of Birth Age Birthplace
19 Jason Arnott “C” 6′ 5″ 220 Oct 11, 1974 34 Collingwood, ON, CAN
3 Wade Belak 6′ 5″ 223 Jul 3, 1976 33 Saskatoon, SK, CAN
71 J.P. Dumont “A” 6′ 1″ 219 Apr 1, 1978 31 Montreal, QC, CAN
Ben Eaves 5′ 8″ 174 Mar 27, 1982 27 Minneapolis, MN, USA
10 Martin Erat 6′ 0″ 203 Aug 29, 1981 27 Trebic, CZE
Ben Guite 6′ 1″ 211 Jul 17, 1978 31 Montreal, QC, CAN
27 Patric Hornqvist 5′ 11″ 186 Jan 1, 1987 22 Sollentuna, SWE
28 Ryan Jones 6′ 1″ 206 Jun 14, 1984 25 Chatham, ON, CAN
11 David Legwand 6′ 2″ 202 Aug 17, 1980 29 Detroit, MI, USA
Peter Olvecky 6′ 2″ 185 Oct 11, 1985 23 Nove Zamky, SVK
42 Antti Pihlstrom 5′ 11″ 190 Oct 22, 1984 24 Vanntaa, FIN
25 Jerred Smithson 6′ 3″ 204 Feb 4, 1979 30 Vernon, BC, CAN
26 Steve Sullivan “A” 5′ 9″ 173 Jul 6, 1974 35 Timmins, ON, CAN
22 Jordin Tootoo 5′ 9″ 200 Feb 2, 1983 26 Churchill, MB, CAN
29 Joel Ward 6′ 1″ 220 Dec 2, 1980 28 North York, ON, CAN

Defensemen

# Name Height Weight Date Of Birth Age Birthplace
2 Dan Hamhuis 6′ 1″ 203 Dec 13, 1982 26 Smithers, BC, CAN
8 Kevin Klein 6′ 1″ 203 Dec 13, 1984 24 Kitchener, ON, CAN
44 Alexander Sulzer 6′ 1″ 207 May 30, 1984 25 Kaufbeuren, DEU
20 Ryan Suter 6′ 1″ 194 Jan 21, 1985 24 Madison, WI, USA
6 Shea Weber 6′ 4″ 230 Aug 14, 1985 24 Sicamous, BC, CAN

Goalies

# Name Height Weight Date Of Birth Age Birthplace
39 Dan Ellis 6′ 0″ 188 Jun 19, 1980 29 Saskatoon, SK, CAN
35 Pekka Rinne 6′ 5″ 206 Nov 3, 1982 26 Kempele, FIN
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