This might be a hair late given the fact that the Nashville Predators have already played Game One of the NHL season, but I wanted to get individual player projections cast in
stone pixels before we got too far down the road.
Here's how my projections for last season went, and looking back I'm pretty satisfied with the results.
So check after the jump for how I think the individual offensive numbers will shake out, and tell me where I'm right or wrong in the comments...
|Jason Arnott||70||35||30||65||Might benefit the most from Sully's presence.|
|Wade Belak||50||1||2||3||If he scores, it'll be a heck of a celebration.|
|Francis Bouillon||70||2||10||12||By the end of the year, he'll make people forget Greg Zanon.|
|J.P. Dumont||80||20||55||75||Has two genuine goal-scorers on his line, and lots of PP time.|
|Martin Erat||75||18||40||58||A career-high in points, but not enough to get excited about.|
|Marcel Goc||70||4||10||14||Think of him as the new Radek Bonk, but costing half as much.|
|Ben Guite||60||2||6||8||Think of him as the new Scott Nichol, but costing half as much.|
|Dan Hamhuis||80||5||20||25||Doesn't get the attention that Weber & Suter do, but he's gold.|
|Patric Hornqvist||60||12||20||32||2nd strong pre-season in a row, but in a battle for playing time.|
|Ryan Jones||65||10||15||25||Off to a slow start coming out of training camp, must earn opportunity.|
|Kevin Klein||80||4||12||16||Should prosper as a Top 4 defenseman after years of preparation.|
|Teemu Laakso||30||1||3||4||Will be eased into NHL action.|
|David Legwand||75||22||34||56||A healthy rebound from last season, but not quite career highs.|
|Mike Santorelli||70||16||20||36||Speed and chemistry with Legwand & Erat give cause for hope.|
|Jerred Smithson||82||1||5||6||Defensive specialist isn't relied upon for scoring.|
|Steve Sullivan||70||30||40||70||Offensive dynamo is the key to improved team play.|
|Alexander Sulzer||55||1||6||7||Must work his way back into the lineup, but skill set is valuable.|
|Ryan Suter||82||12||40||52||Continuing to mature as a top-level defenseman.|
|Jordin Tootoo||65||6||6||12||Will this be enough to earn #22 a new contract with Nashville?|
|Joel Ward||70||8||15||23||Expected to play major role on 3rd line and special teams.|
|Shea Weber||82||17||35||52||Must establish consistent performance at last year's elite level.|
|Colin Wilson||50||8||20||28||Can't expect everyday NHL dominance yet, but coming soon.|
|Dan Ellis||24||10||0.908||3||He will get his chance to shine, likely earning a job somewhere else next year.|
|Pekka Rinne||58||35||0.915||8||Will be pressed by Ellis, but appears ready for the challenge.|
There are a few overall trends that guided these projections:
Top line dominance
The 2009-10 Nashville Predators should be led by production concentrated in the five-man unit of Sullivan-Arnott-Dumont up front, and Suter-Weber on the blueline. The return of Steve Sullivan to this group provides a major boost.
Young guns jockeying for position
Between Mike Santorelli, Ryan Jones and Patric Hornqvist, the Preds have three wingers who could show up anywhere from the 2nd line down to the 4th, or even watch in the press box, depending on how they're going at any given time. Barry Trotz isn't shy about juggling the lineup, and none of these three have earned a permanent job.
Although Dan Ellis earned the start in Game #1 due to his stellar pre-season work, I still expect Rinne to assume command as the regular starter. Both should be motivated to strong seasons, as they face free agency next summer.
A step towards mediocrity
As a team, this projection has Nashville potting 235 goals, a significant step up from last season's 207, but nothing too large. After all, 235 goals would have only been 17th-best in the NHL last year.