In the weeks leading up to the new 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: Jordin Tootoo.
The Nashville Predators' all-time greatest fighter (as voted by On the Forecheck readers), Jordin Tootoo made great strides in his play in 2009-10. He drew more penalties while taking fewer (ranking 11th in Penalties Drawn per 60 Minutes of 5-on-5 play among players with 40+ games played), and saw his responsibilities increase despite missing games to injury.
Tootoo is perhaps the most popular player in Nashville Predators history, thanks to his fighting spirit and a motor which never stops. He'll hit or punch anything that moves (and some things that don't, like Brad Staubitz), and after the jump we'll examine what the new season will hold for the NHL's first-ever Inuit player.
Bottom six grinder/agitator. These have been his duties since he entered the league, and I see no reason as to why they'll change now. The Predators have acquired more players that fit this role, yes - but Tootoo has carved a niche on the roster and probably has his spot locked safely away. He won't play much on the penalty kill, but you'll see him on a high-energy line designed to pester opponents and create turnovers on the forecheck. With the dwindling ice time of Wade Belak and the utmost importance of Shea Weber, Jordin will also need to stick up for his teammates when necessary.
There should be no more leeway for Tootoo; no feeble excuses for his recklessness. While I'd maintain that he's not a dirty player, we can agree that he blurs lines on occasion. Nashville needs him to cut that portion out of his game. There's no room for needless penalties on a winning hockey club, and especially one with a poor penalty kill.
Basically, Tootoo needs to expand on what he already does so well - agitate. Jordin can change the game with a single hit, and provide an attitude that is unmatched when he's on his game. While he can tantalize fans with a blistering slap shot, he'll have a hard time earning duty on a scoring line in this lineup.
Tootoo kicks off a new deal this year, which is for 2 years and worth $2,500,000. It was an act of faith from David Poile, because despite Tootoo's hard work, his effectiveness can be debated.
Jordin only played in 51 games, but scored 6 goals and 10 assists, which matched his point output from the season before in which he played 72 games. As mentioned, his penalty minutes were down (40), and he skated to a +2. He missed around a month's action thanks to a Shea Weber blast.
Due to injuries and games played, 2009-10 didn't see him fight quite as much - but it wasn't for lack of capability. Take a look at this fight from an early season game against the Florida Panthers. Remember, Kenndal - don't tug on Superman's cape.
The biggest question mark for Jordin Tootoo remains his health. He has now played six NHL seasons, but not a one has exceeded 72 games. 2010-11 may see him healthy scratched a few times early in the year because of Nashville's incredible depth in their bottom six, but lets pencil Tootoo in for 5 goals and 12 assists with an increase in PIM.
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