We are 12 days away from the start of the NHL season. The scheduling of your Fantasy Hockey drafts have begun. The DraftKit is on sale and it is time to start previewing the 2016-17 NHL season.
I will be previewing two teams every day and each preview will consist of: Projected Line Combinations, a breakdown of each team’s top Fantasy assets, a look at their goaltending situation and 2016-17 NHL Standings projection.
If you don’t want to wait for the previews, buy our 2016-17 DraftKit—which has previews for every team as well as projections for over 300 players and goalies. You will get rankings and projections on here over the next few weeks, but why wait, when you can get it all right now for just $4.95?
Let’s take a look at the Nashville Predators.
|P.K. Subban – D – (from MTL)||Shea Weber – D – (to MTL)|
|Matt Carle – D – (from TBL)||Carter Hutton – G – (to STL)|
|Yannick Weber – D – (from VAN)|
|Matt Irwin – D – (from BOS)|
|Harry Zolnierczyk – RW – (from ANA)|
Last year the Nashville Predators made the playoffs for the second straight season and for the ninth time in the last 12 years. While they’ve been no strangers to making the playoffs, they’ve had a hard time winning in the postseason—first round losses in six of nine years. However, 2016-17 will likely be the best version of the Predators that we’ve ever seen.
In two years behind the Predators’ bench, Peter Laviolette has led them to an 88-52-24 record—the 200 points is 10th in the NHL. During that same stretch, Nashville is 12th in goals for (2.74 GF/PG) and goals against (2.53 GA/PG).
When talking about the Nashville Predators, you have to start with their massive offseason trade. Shea Weber had been the Predators’ captain since 2010, but was traded to the Montreal Canadiens for P.K. Subban this summer, leaving veteran Mike Fisher as their new captain. Subban is viewed as one of the best offensive-defenseman in the NHL and he will likely play with Roman Josi, which forms arguably the top offensive pairing there will be in 2016-17. Over the last three seasons Subban and Josi rank third and fourth respectively in points from defensemen. On the Predators second pairing is former first round pick Ryan Ellis, who is also tremendously talented offensively. He will likely be joined by Mattias Ekholm, who is coming off of a career-year after he saw in up-tick in usage following Seth Jones’ trade to Columbus. Their blueline will be rounded out by two of Anthony Bitetto, Matt Carle and Yannick Weber, who was signed this offseason to fill the “Weber” quota on the Preds’ blueline.
Up front, Nashville has no shortage of fire power. Filip Forsberg is coming off of back-to-back 60-plus point seasons and will look to build a strong rapport with Ryan Johansen. The two of them are the best forwards on the team, but played limited minutes together after Johansen was acquired form the Blue Jackets. Both of them are capable of putting up 70-plus points in 2016-17. On the wing they have a trio of solid goal scorers. James Neal played in all 82 games last year, scoring 30-plus goals for the second time in his career. Craig Smith has only missed three games over the last three seasons while scoring 20-plus goals in each season (24, 23, 21). Colin Wilson has played well in seasons past, but is coming off of a tough 2015-16 season. He was limited to 64 games and scored just six goals. However, he has upside heading into this season as he should be a key member of the top-6. Down the middle you can expect to see a lot of the aforementioned Fisher and Mike Ribeiro. Both of them are coming off of down seasons, especially Fisher. Ribeiro will not score a lot of goals, but is a capable of picking up 40-plus helpers.
In goal, Pekka Rinne returns for his 11th season in Nashville. Rinne was OK last year, having won 34 games with a 2.48 goals against average (GAA) and a .908 save percentage (SV%). The soon to be 34-year-old is heading into the twilight of his career, but plays behind one of the stronger defensive teams in the NHL and is tied for third in the NHL in wins (75) over the last two years. Behind him, Marek Mazanec is expected to start the year as his backup, but Juuse Saros is coming off of a great year in the AHL and could surpass Mazanec on the depth chart before too long. The 2013 fourth round pick was 29-8-0 with a 2.24 GAA and .920 SV% with Milwaukee (AHL) and is the goalie of the future in Nashville.
Overall, the Predators have a really good blueline and a high-powered offensive group and have the potential to rank in the top-10 in both goals for and against, making them a favourite in the Western Conference.
Predators in the DFO Top 275:
- 14. Filip Forsberg – RW
- 23. P.K. Subban – D
- 24. Ryan Johansen – C
- 36. Roman Josi – D
- 43. Pekka Rinne – G
- 118. James Neal – RW
- 193. Ryan Ellis – D
- 215. Craig Smith – RW
- 231. Mike Ribeiro – C
- 240. Mattias Ekholm – D
2016-17 Season Projection:
The Predators are locked in a tough Central Division, but remain one of the best teams in the Conference and should challenge the Blues, Blackhawks and Stars for first place in the division.