The Nashville Predators entered the season with high energy and even higher hopes. With an impressive blend of flashy young talent and steady NHL veterans, the Preds began the 2016-2017 season as legitimate contenders for their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. With a roller coaster season thus far, the Predators have been consistently victorious at home but have struggled on the road. Fans are eager to see how they will respond after the all-star break in January, when the push to the playoffs really heats up. Here’s a look at the key faces of the Nashville Predators, and the men who could ultimately decide the team’s fate.
P.K. Subban, Defense
Subban has proven to be one of the most electric talents in the NHL after scoring 51 points in 68 games last season. While his performance on the ice this year keeps him outside the top 100 scorers, Subban’s off-ice personality has made him a player to watch, as well as a contender for the captaincy of the Western Conference All-Star team. In the Predators vs. Titans battle for local sports supremacy in the Music City, Subban brings a larger-than-life personality to the team.
Ryan Johansen, Center
Johansen considers himself first and foremost a “playmaker” and has demonstrated that this season by leading the team in both points and assists. Though his style is notably less flashy than many other centers, he’s been a crucial part of this team’s shift. Johansen is slated to be a restricted free agent next offseason, and the 24-year-old center seems ripe to cash in.
Roman Josi, Defense
For almost his entire NHL career, Roman Josi has had a 6-foot-4, 236-pound security blanket in the form of defense partner Shea Weber. After Weber’s trade to the Canadiens, Josi had to adapt. After a slow start at the beginning of the season, Josi is showing improvement and increased comfort on the ice. In the Predators’ push to the playoffs, this slick Swiss blueliner should prove he’s still got it.
Colin Wilson, Left Wing
When the Predators took Wilson with the seventh overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft, expectations were riding high. However, before the 2016 playoffs, Wilson seemed destined for the trading block. In the postseason, he shone as Nashville’s top forward with 13 points in 14 games. Having proven that he can be a clutch performer in last year’s postseason run, the Preds are looking forward to another solid campaign from this talented left-winger.
Mike Fisher, Center
This NHL veteran has reliably proven himself to be a solid leader both on and off the ice, and was rewarded this offseason by taking over the captaincy from Montreal-bound Weber. On one hand, he is an undoubtedly good leader, but his point production has been inconsistent in recent seasons. However, Fisher has looked solid so far this campaign, which just so happens to be the last year of his previous NHL contract, suggesting that he might have extra motivation to put points on the score sheet. If he’s able to keep up his current pace, he’s on track to set a career high in points, suggesting he has more to offer than great leadership.
Pekka Rinne, Goalie
Over the last few decades, Finland has produced a steady stream of goaltending talent. Alongside his contemporaries Tuukka Rask and Kari Lehtonen, Rinne has established himself as one of the most consistent puck stoppers in the NHL. The Predators have relied heavily on Rinne, starting him in over 60 games in each of the past two seasons and leading them to the playoffs with his solid regular season performance. His ability to maintain a high save percentage and low goals against average, despite starting most regular season games, is clear evidence that he is one of the Predators’ most valuable player.
Now that you know who to watch out for on the ice, enjoy watching this exciting squad as they take on the NHL in this push for the playoffs. For more info about local happenings, visit our Nashville City Hub for the latest concerts, events, updates, and more! And let us know in a comment below: which Pred’s player will you be rooting for?