Nashville Predators Season Review

Discussion in 'HFNHL Talk' started by Fan.At, Apr 30, 2006.

  1. Fan.At

    Fan.At Registered User

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    The Nashville Predators season came to an end Friday night with a win against division rivals St. Louis Blues. The Predators showed a strong performance in the 2nd period, limiting the Blues to only 4 shots and scoring 3 goals.

    Nevertheless there is a lot to talk about the past season. A lot of changes were made during a season what was labelled as the first of a major rebuild by new GM Tony Kapfenberger. Overpaid stars were shipped out for depth players who should contribute for a few more years and prospects who will be part of the team's core for years to come.
    The team struggled in the first half of the season leading to a drop in attendence. "We knew that with the changes we make, it would lead to problems. We expected a more balanced season though. We really didn't win early on but the longer the season went, the guys found together and we were able to win some games." The GM said about his teams season. "Trade-wise we were somewhat surfing on a wave of opportunities. We didn't plan to trade guys like Jeff Halpern or Marty Biron when we got them, but the offers we got, we couldn't refuse."

    In fact the team has put itself in a nice situation for the future adding top prospects like Corey Perry and Dan Fritsche as well as quality depth in players like Mark Fraser. Also aquired were a lot of entry draft picks, which will give the new GM an opportunity to put his stamp on the teams development system. "Right now i'm fine with what we have coming up. A lot of guys have made their pro debuts at the end of this season and thats a good sign. We will have some promising rookies in the lineup sooner rather than later."

    The Good
    Centre Jan Hrdina had a breakout year offensively. 24 goals and 41 assist both were tops for the Predators who will look for similar contributions from the smart czech centre next season. Also newcomers Kristian Huselius and Jim Vandermeer made the most of their opportunities.
    "The guys had to showcase themselves. We were evaluating who can be part of the future of this franchise and they did really well." Said GM Kapfenberger.
    Best player this season was defenseman Jordan Leopold. The young defenseman scored 46 points and was a major contributor in all situations throughout the season what earned him a 3 year contract extension.
    Goaltender Jani Hurme was a big part of the Preds late season run, a run that saw them split the season series with the high favourite St. Louis blues 3-3. Hurme has recently signed a contract in his native Finland, but there are still chances he might return to the HFNHL next season.

    The Bad
    Team chemistry early in the season. A lot of new players, a new GM, a complete new situation for all the players. When asked about his feelings about the season, defenseman Jim Vandermeer said: "It was not easy situation coming here, knowing the team would have a tough season. We really struggled. There was not much time to get used to each other, thats why we really had troubles. But there was no pressure put on the team, we got the time we needed to develop some chemistry and it showed late in the season. I'm looking forward to come back next season".
    Getting the new GM late in the offseason with no chances to sign free agents or be part of the training camp, the Preds owners knew the season wouldn't be a winning one.

    The Ugly
    280 goals against, worst in the league. The Preds used 4 starting goalies throughout the season and it showed on the stat sheet. The defenseman never got comfortable with their goalies, with the exception of trade deadline acquisition Jani Hurme. Goaltending should not be a problem in the future with prospects like Kari Lehtonen, Josh Harding and Thomas Greiss in the system.
    202 goals for. Offense is what this team needs most. Trading for Corey Perry was a step into the right direction, but it won't be enough, more has to follow. Expect GM Kapfenberger to be very active filling that hole through the offseason.

    The top prospects

    G Kari Lehtonen
    Lehtonen was injured a lot this season, but still started 38 games for the NHL Atlanta Thrashers winning 20 of them. He will be signed to a contract by the Nashville Predators and projects to be their starting goalie for years to come.

    RW Corey Perry
    After being labelled as a more bust than boom player coming into his first NHL season, the big skilled forward proved his doubters wrong. He played in 56 games, scoring 13 goals and 12 assists. He might be signed to his first HFNHL contract this offseason.

    D Anton Babchuk
    The big russian defenseman was traded from the NHL Chicago Blackhawks to the Carolina Hurricanes. He saw action in 39 NHL games, scoring 5 goals and 5 assists. He should be a regular for the Hurricanes as early as next season.

    D Braydon Coburn
    The big defenseman was sent down to the AHL after a few regular season games to get more playing time in the AHL. In the AHL Coburn scored 6 goals and 20 assist in 73 games.

    Anything else than him being a regular on the Atlanta blueline next season would be a surprise.

    C Ryan O'Marra
    O'Marra was a big part of Canada's gold winning WJC team and contributed 77 points to his OHL team. Late in the season he was signed to a pro contract and played 8 games in the AHL scoring 4 goals and 1 assist.

    G Josh Harding
    Harding was a top goaltender in the AHL and got the opportunity to play in 3 NHL games after the NHL Minnesota Wild traded Dwayne Roloson to Edmonton. Harding posted a shutout and a save percentage of 90,4 during his short NHL stint and will be a full-time NHLer as backup at least next season.

    F Jiri Hudler
    Jiri Hudler again showed his top offensive instincts by scoring 36 goals and 60 assists in 76 AHL games. Expect the small forward to either play in Detroit next season or be traded.

    D Kurtis Foster
    The huge defenseman finally seems to have put everything together. After being sent down to the AHL after training camp he was recalled mid November and made the most of his opportunities. Averaging over 19 minutes per game and scoring 10 goals and 18 assists look for him to build on this performance for next season. The Predators will sign Foster to a contract this offseason.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2006

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