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  • KNOW YOUR ENEMY: 2017-18 Central Division Preview -- Nashville Predators

    Giles Ferrell

    Nashville Predators
    Head Coach: Peter Laviolette (fourth season with NSH)
    Arena: Bridgestone Arena
    2016-17 Record: 41-29-12 (4th in Central Division)
    2016-17 Record vs Min: 2-2-1
    Top Scorer: Viktor Arvidsson & Ryan Johansen (61 points)
    Top Goaltender: Pekka Rinne (31-19-9, 2.42 Goals Against Average, .918 Save Percentage, 3 Shutouts)

    2016-17 Recap:


    Opening the season with lofty expectations, it was more of a lackluster regular season for the Predators. It wasn't until mid-January when the struggling club finally took off and propelled into the playoffs as the Western Conference's final Wild Card team. A first-round sweep of the Chicago Blackhawks from Nashville shocked the hockey world -- a series in which Nashville only allowed three goals. Six-game defeats of St. Louis and Anaheim sent Nashville to their first Stanley Cup Final, sending the always hopping "Smashville" into a frenzy. The joyous run came to an unfortunate end in the Cup Final as Nashville was beaten by Pittsburgh, which won its second consecutive Stanley Cup.

    Offseason Losses: F Mike Fisher, F James Neal and F Collin Wilson

    Not many changes came about in Nashville this summer, but the biggest was the announcement from captain Mike Fisher that he was retiring. Fisher had played 18 seasons in the NHL -- the last seven in Nashville. Another blow for Nashville up front in the summer came during the Expansion Draft when the Golden Knights selected James Neal. Neal was coming off a 41-point season -- his third in the Music City.

    Offseason Additions: D Alexei Emelin, F Scott Hartnell and F Nick Bonino

    With the loss of Ryan Ellis for the first three months of the season, the Predators are now looking more wiser for picking up Alexei Emelin via trade. Emelin had spent the first six seasons in the NHL with Montreal, but was the Habs' selection in the Expansion Draft, and was sent to Nashville a week later. Nick Bonino, formerly of Pittsburgh, was the big splash for the Predators in free agency, as the forward inked a five-year deal. Rounding out the acquisition list this offseason is Scott Hartnell, who had the final two years of his contract bought out by Columbus in June. General manager David Poile spent the rest of his offseason signing notable restricted free agents Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson.

    Projected Lines (via dailyfaceoff):

    Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson
    Kevin Fiala-Nick Bonino-Craig Smith
    Scott Hartnell-Calle Jarnkrok-Pontus Aberg
    Austin Watson-Frederick Gaudreau-Colton Sissons

    Roman Josi-Mattias Ekholm
    Alexei Emelin-PK Subban
    Matt Irwin-Yannick Weber

    Pekka Rinne
    Juuse Saros

    2017-18 Outlook:

    Bringing back a very similar team to last year's Western Conference champion roster, the Predators will be a favorite in the West once again. Given how wide open the Central Division is, they will no doubt be in the mix for a top spot in the division, which would entail a few more playoff home games in front of the rambunctious crowds at Bridgestone Arena. With a healthy roster -- outside of Ellis -- beginning the year, look for Nashville to open the year with a bit of an edge as they try to reclaim their place atop the West.

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