I know it maybe August, but my anticipation is growing for the coming season. I haven't seen many Predator blogs lately and I just wanted to know everyone's opinion on the Predators' lines for this upcoming season.
Pluses-This line has a lot of chemistry as they displayed last season. Arnott and Dumont's size helps to open up space for Sullivan, and Sullivan's speed helps to create space for J.P. and Arnott. Arnott cannon of a slapshot and Sully's wristshot doesn't hurt either.
Minuses-This maybe an overload of skill on the Predators' top line. Trotz has always been a believer in spreading out the talent amongst the lines. Sullivan also misses a lot of time due to injuries, so this line doesn't always to get to play together that much and so they often fail to build on their chemistry. FINAL GRADE: A-
Pluses-Radulov and Erat both know how to the puck in the net as they have proven in the past. This line is the epitome of a Predators' line with speed, skill, and small players. This line will be an exciting and electric line to watch next season. Radulov maybe one of the best young players in the game and should be able to avoid the feared "sophomore slump."
Minuses-Radulov will be entering his sophomore season and will be heavily relied upon to put up the numbers he started to show at the end of the season and is often a "streaky player". Legwand finally began to blossom last season after years of underachieving, but with the loss of Paul Kariya it maybe hard for Leggy to build on his past success. Radulov also needs a skillful set up man and Legwand may have a hard time fitting into that role. FINAL GRADE: B+
Pluses-The Predators have a lot of flexibility on the third line with several different players who can fill in on the third line to give it many different looks. The Preds have really done a great job getting quality players for little money for the 3rd and 4th lines. Gelinas is a veteran who seemingly been through it all, and his grit and scoring touch will really help this third line to produce offensively. Bonk has always been an underachiever for his 3rd overall selection status, but has now really been able to strengthen his overall defensive game and has turned into a very solid third line player. Fiddler is an all around exciting player to watch and has always been able to be put in any kind of situation and still continue to play great. Last season, he was the center for the second and third lines and eventually played wing with Forsberg and Radulov but still was a team player through it all.
Minuses-This line may have a hard time putting a lot of points because none of the players are really completely offensive minded. The third line "shut down" line though often used; is not always the best route to take and is sometimes just an attempt to make up for lack of talent. Also, if the line is a defensive one than the players must play accordingly and not much offense can be expected or vice versa. FINAL GRADE: B-
Pluses-Trotz will have a hard time deciding who will play on the 4th line and the opponent may have to help make his decision. The Preds have an abundance of grit, determination and the ability to get under their opponent's skin flowing through the 4th line. We all know what Tootoo can do and Smithson and Nichol have shown superb skill on the penalty kill.
Minuses-The line has a complete lack of offensive talent racking up a combined goal total of 15; Hordichuk and Ortmeyer have a combined 4. This line's job is to agitate the enemy so to speak and sometimes that can go a little too far; we all remember Nichol's penalty in game 5 of the western quarterfinals.
FINAL GRADE: C+
Heathly Scratches: Hordichuk, Ortmeyer