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: Martin Erat.
Arguably the most offensively gifted player on the Nashville Predators' roster, Martin Erat casts a polarizing figure. One minute he's firing pucks into the back of the net at will, and in the next minute spinning like a top on the ice and turning over the puck in rather crucial situations.
After being the main scapegoat for the Predators' playoff failure against Chicago (along with the power play), it is a redemption season of sorts for the man we call Marty. We'll take a look after the jump.
Despite some maddening inconsistencies, I think Erat will be relied upon (again) to play the left wing of the Predators' top scoring line. He has the ability to do this, and played admirably in stretches here last season typically alongside Jason Arnott. He'll be a go-to winger for the no. 1 power play unit and probably log some penalty kill time, too.
The development of Colin Wilson and Patric Hornqvist enables us to temper expectations for Erat - but only a little. Even in a highly successful season, I see no reason why Martin Erat should not lead the Predators in points, thanks to a combination of his talent, role, and the aging of J.P. Dumont and Steve Sullivan.
Erat scored some timely goals for Nashville, and even made some good memories such as his penalty shot goal in Game 3 against the Blackhawks. That said, he's only been remembered for one thing, and that is gifting the puck to Patrick Kane deep in the Predators' zone in Game 5. This is not for the faint of heart.
In 2009-10, Erat played in 74 games. He registered 21 goals and 28 assists, and finished with 50 penalty minutes and a -7.
Erat's productivity will largely depend on his linemates. Very often last season, Erat was found moving up and down the boards trying to create space in the offensive zone while Jason Arnott was lax to move his feet. The lack of hustle from Arnott meant fewer chances, and thus fewer points for the both of them. If Erat is placed on a line with Matthew Lombardi or Colin Wilson, then his production will see an increase from a down year. If he stays healthy, pencil Marty in for 24 goals and 34 assists.