In 2017-18 the Nashville Predators won the Presidents Trophy by setting new franchise records in wins (53) and points (117) while scoring their second-most goals (3.18 GF/PG) and fourth fewest goals against (2.49 GA/PG).
The Predators are mostly the same team that they were last year, so there’s no reason not to expect them to finish near the top of a loaded Western Conference.
➕ Dan Hamhuis (Free Agency)
➕ Zac Rinaldo (Free Agency)
➕ Connor Brickley (Free Agency)
➕ Rocco Grimaldi (Free Agency)
Up front the Predators are led by the duo of Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen, who were often joined by Viktor Arvidsson last year. This year they will have either Arvidsson or Kevin Fiala on their right wing, but it shouldn’t matter either way. Forsberg and Johansen spent 618:45 5v5 TOI together last season and carried a 55.06 CorsiFor%, 50.78 ScoringChancesFor% and astounding 68.42 GoalsFor%. They will lead the charge and if Fiala plays meaningful minutes with them this season, he becomes one of the NHL’s biggest breakout candidates.
Kyle Turris enters his first full season with Nashville after being acquired from Ottawa early last year. Turris’ arrival was massive for Fiala, but moving Arvidsson to his wing will help spread out the Predators depth. Rookie Eeli Tolvanen or Calle Jarnkrok are candidates to play on the left-side of that line. Tolvanen is the more attractive of those two options from a fantasy perspective, but Jarnkrok is coming off the best year of his career—19 goal, 23-assist per 82-game pace.
What separates the Predators from the majority of teams is their depth. Jarnkrok or Tolvanen will join Nick Bonino and Craig Smith on the third line and their fourth-line will likely consist of Ryan Hartman, Frederick Gaudreau and Colton Sissons. A few of them would play in the top-6 of some teams and if gives them the No.15 ranked third line and No.2 ranked fourth line in hockey according to Corsica Players Ratings.
The Predators have arguable the best top-4 defensemen in the NHL, even after the San Jose Sharks acquired Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators. Roman Josi and P.K. Subban are two of the NHL’s best defensemen and they have the luxury of splitting them up and playing them over 24 minutes a night.
Josi plays with the offensive minded Ryan Ellis, who missed the start of last season but was on a 17-goal, 43-assist (60 points) per 82-game pace. The duo had a 54.7 CF% and 52.8 SCF%. Subban and Mattias Ekholm make up their other top-pairing and their numbers were even more impressive last year—they had a 55.6 CF% and 55.0 SCF%.
Matt Irwin and Yannick Weber eat up the other 10-to-12 minutes that are available just to give their top-4 a breather. Josi and Subban could both be top-5 fantasy defensemen and Ellis will easily climb into the top-15/20 if he can stay healthy.
Pekka Rinne is entering the final-year of his contract but just had one of the best years of his career at age-35. Rinne was 42-13-4 with a 2.31 goals against average, .927 save percentage and led the league in shutouts (8) and goals saved above average (27.49). Despite his recent success, the continued development of Juuse Saros is in the best interest of the Predators. Rinne will likely continue to see a decrease in starts as Nashville limits his workload to keep his fresh and Saros sharp.
The 23-year-old Saros has a career 2.42 GAA and .923 SV% in 48 NHL games and is the future No.1 netminder in Nashville. He is easily one of the best handcuff and backup options in fantasy hockey and has the ability to be a top-10 goalie if Rinne gets hurt.
|Filip Forsberg (30)||P.K. Subbam (44)||Filip Forsberg (65)||Filip Forsberg (8)|
|Viktor Arvidsson (30)||Ryan Johansen (43)||Ryan Johansen (61)||Roman Josi (7)|
|Kevin Fiala (23)||Roman Josi (41)||Viktor Arvidsson (58)||Kyle Turris (6)|
- 40. Roman Josi — D5
- 41. P.K. Subban — D6
- 43. Filip Forsberg — LW8
- 63. Pekka Rinne — G8
- 88. Ryan Johansen — C25
- 93. Viktor Arvidsson — RW17
- 99. Ryan Ellis — D22
- 165. Kyle Turris — C37
- 172. Juuse Saros — G27
- 192. Kevin Fiala — LW28
- 259. Craig Smith — RW53
- 263. Mattias Ekholm — D67
- 278. Eeli Tolvanen — RW56
Predicted Central Standings
1. Nashville Predators
The Predators are loaded up front with one of the best bluelines and goaltending duos in the NHL. The Winnipeg Jets are likely the only team in the Central Division who are capable of giving the Predators a run for the Division lead. Nashville should have no problem topping 100 points and could clinch their second straight Presidents Trophy.