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: David Legwand.
Today we arrive at the player who, Kevin Klein notwithstanding, probably receives the most love/hate sentiment on all the roster. The Predators' first-ever draft pick, David Legwand is constantly under the microscope. There are certain expectations for a player picked 2nd overall, and most would say that Legwand has not lived up to them. Whether he has or not is your own call. There's no doubt, though, that as goes David Legwand, so go the Predators.
We'll evaluate his upcoming season after the jump.
Between the acquisition of Matthew Lombardi and the growth of Colin Wilson, there's reason to believe that Legwand will be moved from his typical 2nd scoring-line center role to a less offensively demanding one shutting down the opposing team's top forwards. This assumes, though, that Trotz has Wilson pegged as a center. Legwand will also anchor a penalty killing unit.
To minimize the damage done by the opponent's best offensive players, win the majority of his faceoffs, contribute offensively, and take regular shootout opportunities. Yeah, its a long list - but one that Legwand has proved capable of fulfilling. Those that complain about his 40 point seasons fail to see just how good a defensive player he is.
$4.5 million this season, with 3 more years after that, featuring a decline in salary during the final two. Overpaid? Sure, but again; not as much as you'd think. He does a little bit of everything, and he does it all well.
Legwand played in all 82 games, scoring 11 goals to go with 27 assists. He finished with a -5, which is actually impressive considering the types of players he's regularly lined up against. His pedestrian offensive numbers can be qualified by two factors. First, his linemates were predominantly Joel Ward and Jerred Smithson, two decidedly defensive wingers, and secondly, the competition he faced was brutal. According to Behind the Net, the Quality of Competition rankings using Relative Corsi (the ability to drive Total Shots For & Against) had Ward, Legwand and Smithson placed 1st, 2nd and 4th respectively among all NHL forwards with at least 40 games played. That line took on the toughest of the tough each and every night, freeing up opportunities for the other Nashville forwards at their own statistical expense.
David was by far the Preds' best skater in the playoffs, giving Nashville 2 goals, 5 assists, and a +5 in 6 games.
I think his numbers will drop a little, but only because he's freed up to do more dirty work for Barry Trotz. Look for a 10 goal, 25 assist year from Leggy, but with his typical outstanding defensive play.
And to cap things off, let's reminisce about a great moment from Legwand's career - the first home playoff goal in franchise history...