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: J.P Dumont.
Ah, J.P. After two seasons leading the Predators in scoring, 2009-10 was like a nightmare. Coming out of training camp it appeared that a top line of Steve Sullivan-Jason Arnott-J.P. Dumont would lead the way, but less than halfway into the first game of the season that plan was derailed when J.P. took a vicious hit from Dallas Stars defenseman Stephane Robidas as he came down the right wing. The after-effects kept him out for almost two weeks, and outside of a crazy 5-point night in Ottawa, it just never seemed like Dumont's season got rolling.
This is a tough one to figure out. As Sam profiled recently over at PredsBlog, in March J.P. had his ice time cut roughly in half, and Barry Trotz seemed to think that he got better play out of J.P., and more out of the team overall, by making that move. A good chunk of that reduction came out of his power play time as well. So has Dumont really gone from team-leading scorer to 4th-liner and secondary PP contributor in just one season?
The bar has been lowered, based not just on 2009-10's results, but the emergence of younger forwards like Patric Hornqvist and Colin Wilson (if he spends time playing on the wing rather than center). Heading into the new season, I don't think many observers (and only 4% of OtF readers) expect J.P. lead the Preds in scoring again.
17 goals and 28 assists for 45 points represents J.P.'s lowest output as a Nashville Predator, due in part to his average ice time of 14:46, his lowest since his sophomore season (1999-2000) as a Chicago Blackhawk. The Robidas hit (seen below) led to his first extended absence from the lineup in recent years, as during his first three seasons here he played in 244 out of 246 possible games.
At 32 years of age, Dumont has probably one more potential big payday ahead of him if he can return to the levels of offensive production from his first three Predators seasons. I expect that he'll respond to last season's demotion by fighting hard for a prominent role, but that it will prove a struggle over the course of the season. Pencil him in for something like 20 goals, 35 assists, and 55 points.