In the weeks leading up to the upcoming season, we'll preview the Nashville Predators on a player-by-player basis, examining their role on the squad and expectations relative to capabilities. So come along for the ride as we look ahead to 2010-11, from Andersson to Wilson. Next up: Wade Belak.
A popular figure off the ice but not much of a contributor on it, the Predators' enforcer saw his playing time gradually decrease and eventually disappear altogether last year as the intensity of the games increased down the stretch. It was with much surprise, then, that we found out that Wade Belak would join the team for another season.
After the jump we evaluate what, if anything, Belak could contribute to the Nashville Predators in 2010-11.
Belak will be called upon to play on the 4th line very rarely, against more rough-and-tumble teams like St. Louis with Cam Janssen. A more important role, perhaps, will be to mentor younger players such as Nick Spaling and Cal O'Reilly. There's no doubt that Wade is one of the better 'glue guys' on the team, but do the Preds even need an enforcer with players like Shea Weber and Jordin Tootoo, who are way more than capable of handling their own business?
One year, $575,000. You'd think that would make him the lowest paid player on the team, but that dubious honor actually falls to Sergei Kostitsyn. Belak is entering his 14th NHL season, and 3rd with Nashville.
Honestly, not much - which is fine. Belak, when in the lineup, needs to play good defense and be willing to stick up for the skill players on the team. If he gets into a fight, I'd prefer he win it. Like this:
Belak participated in ten fights last year, and didn't fare that well, if you believe the hockeyfights.com voters. He had two assists and 58 penalty minutes in 39 games played.
With so many roster spots filled, its hard to see how Wade fits in anywhere. That said, there still appears to be a place for his type of player in the NHL. I'd guess he gets in 15 games, 5 fights, and registers no points.