Projected Lines: Nashville Predators
L, C, R
The defending western conference champs come back very much intact, with one significant loss in James Neal. David Poile responded in free agency with a couple key additions to the forward core and a legitimate top 6 NHL defenseman. The competition at camp will be in the bottom of the lineup, with the top of the lineup set in stone.
The loss of James Neal to the forward core is not detrimental, but it’s significant. Guys who play with an edge and are who are good for at least 25 goals a year are not easy to find. Poile responded by signing 29 year old centre Nick Bonino to a 4 year deal, and 35 year old winger Scott Hartnell to a 1 year deal. Adding Bonino to this team is huge, he’s proven to be a capable 2nd line centre, although his role of the last couple years has been 3rd line centre in Pittsburgh. Safe to say Bonino has been one of if not the best 3rd line centers over the last couple of years and will be a steady presence to this lineup. Hartnell played mostly on the 4th line in Columbus and still put up 37 points in 78 games. He will contribute and adds a veteran presence to this group of youngsters.
This is the best defense core in the league. The addition of Emelin brings them top 4 depth on the third pair and makes them that much deeper. Matt Irwin won’t even make the top 6 and he’s undeniably an NHL defenseman. The top 4 has 4 elite two way defenseman, and the way they work off each other is terrifying, and a main reason for their dominance last year.
It’s still Pekka’s net for the next couple of years, but Saros is coming in hot. Rinne showed he’s still got it with a couple incredible playoff performances, accompanied by his ever present spot on the highlight real. He had a less than stellar final round, but overall had an amazing year and will liekly back it up this season. Saros has been excellent everywhere he plays, with a save percentage often over .940, he’ll be looking for more action this season. This bodes well for Rinne, who can stay fresh with an eased workload.
Thanks for reading and comment away on the Stanley Cup Finalists projected lines for this upcoming year.