Its safe to say that the Nashville Predators will once again be scrounging for goals, this for the 2nd straight season.
While the obvious next move for GM David Poile would obviously be a top 6 forward, its very clear that a move like such will not happen in the next few months. See, there I could have easily said that last sentence without "in the next few months". More on that later.
From all indications from interviews or quotes straight from David Poile that have surfaced to see the light of day, none have given anyone any hope of an acquisition landing a much needed scoring forward. In fact, most of those articles have been done by the Nashville Tennessean and in those articles, the writer has been the one to suggest any kind hope of making such an acquisition. Poile has stated that the team is looking to add a veteran defenceman.
Here's why that acquisition would be more important than getting a scoring forward at this point:
Right now, Kevin Klein is 4th on the Preds depth chart for d-men. Last season was his first full season in the NHL, in which he played 63 games. Prior to last season, he had played in just 18 NHL games total. Your top 4 d-men need to be rock solid. While I have some confidence in Klein playing well on both sides of the ice in all capacities, knowing that the players behind him on the depth chart are rookies does not sit well with me, to be honest. Alexander Sulzer missed time last year with a separated shoulder in a game vs. Vancouver. He never played after then. Jon Blum and Cody Franson will spend the entire 09/10 season in Milwaukee guaranteed. Blum will be going to the Admirals to develop the same things that Franson went there to develop: Add size, improve defensive play, confidence. Teemu Laakso could get a call up if he has a strong training camp but even he could be a stretch. He would serve the purpose that Sulzer did last year pretty much.
You are probably thinking why am I talking about defence...wasn`t the whole blog about poor offense? Well yes. Lets look at how the Preds offense has changed in the last two years.
In 2006-07, barring injuries, the ideal Preds forwards lineup would have looked like:
This season, it will look like:
Colin Wilson will start the year in Milwaukee. Poile has to feel fine about this lineup given that most players mature and get the feeling of playing at the NHL. I expect Jones and Hornqvist to be a little bit closer to what people had envisioned them to be.
There are once again TB/NSH rumours about the Bolts having interest in Dan Ellis. While there could be a deal in the next few months, I did say earlier otherwise. Why? This team will not give up on Ellis just yet and will likely buy time until Mark Dekanich is fully ready to be brought up as a backup to even consider it. We could be talking trade deadline time for anything to happen.
I had most of the above done yesterday before I heard that Poile via radio had mentioned that the team may not sign a defenceman after all. This is interesting since the proposed team budget was said to be around $45 million but the team is currently around $40 million.
Preds management are planning on using $250,000 to upgrade the luxury seats at Sommet Center to cater to the very well-off in Tennessee. Might as well, right?
Alexander Radulov will not be returning to the NHL this season as confirmed by David Poile last week. This comes as no surprise to all hockey fans. He bailed on his team and it would be difficult to bring him back given the circumstances. This also may be a decision to cement his place on the 2010 Russian Men's Olympic Hockey team by staying loyal to the Motherland....gimme a break, Alex...
I have read through Brandon and Paul's assessments of Prospects camp and am not too surprised with what has been said. The players seem to be living up or starting to live up to what was scouted of them. However, you cannot base much on training camp or prospect camp alone. Game situations are what you want and specifically, actual games against actual opponents. We will have to wait until September for that.
I will say this. This team is in trouble if they walk into season with two of Franson, Laakso and Sulzer as the 3rd defence pairing or some variation of that whether Klein is in that pairing or not. The team cannot afford to break up Weber and Suter. Hammer had a tough year last season and we do not know yet if we will see an improved Dan Hamhuis. While this team has not been afraid of starting young defencemen early (Hamhuis in 03/04 and Suter in 05/06) but in both of those cases, those kids were surrounded by a plethora of experienced, veteran d-men.
The offense with where it is plus a really young defence and a rookie goalie on a team with a history of young-goalie-gets-full-time-job-and-cracks-under-pressure syndrome can not be good for fans to consume this season.