Mile High Sticking Central Division Power Rankings — Preseason Debut!

7 of 8


Sep 29, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne (35) during the second period against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

When he is on his game, Pekka Rinne is one of the premier goalies in the NHL. He was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2011 and 2012, but last season he found himself a couch sitter of the year finalist. Rinne underwent arthroscopic hip surgery last May, and the hip became infected early last season. Rinne missed the majority of the year, and when he did return he wasn’t his usual self.

A full offseason of health and training may have been enough to get Rinne back to elite form, and if the Predators want any shot at claiming a wildcard playoff position from this division, Pekka is going to need to return to Vezina caliber form.

Nashville lacks elite scoring options among their forwards, but do boast a blueline full of star power. Shea Webber has one of the hardest slap-shots in the NHL, and is very tough to play against in his own end. Roman Josi is one of the underrated young players in the game, and Seth Jones is another youngster full of promise. Jones is a guy many predicted the Avalanche would take when they landed the first overall pick last spring, before the Avs decided MacKinnon was their guy.

Last Season: 88 pts – Missed Playoffs

Prediction: 84 pts

Team Strength: Defensive weapons

The predators are equipped with a lot of talented players on their blueline. Weber, Jones, Josi, and Ryan Ellis give them a top-four that many teams in this league would trade their own top-four defenseman for. For whatever reason though last season, the Preds weren’t their usual stingy selves on the defensive end. Nashville gave up 2.84 goals per game, ranking them 23rd in the NHL in that dept.

Honorable mention for team strength is having Carrie Underwood in the stands! I’m a huge fan!

Team Weakness: Loss of identity

Barry Trotz was the man behind the bench in Nashville for their entire existence, until he was fired after least season. Peter Laviolette takes over this year. The Predators had a reputation as a hard nosed team, who got a lot out of a little from their roster, with much of the credit going to Trotz. It is very possible that a new voice will benefit the team, but their still isn’t a lot of talent for Laviolette to work with.