The Nashville Predators take on the Atlanta Thrashers tonight in their fourth game of the 2010-11 preseason. The Predators are 1-2, with a win and a loss against Carolina and a loss to Washington on Saturday. This is the Predators' first game after their first significant round of cuts, which means that the roster battles will intensify even further. There are 22 forwards left in camp for 14 NHL spots, 12 defensemen for 7 places, and 4 goalies for 2 slots.
RADIO NOTE: Tonight marks the debut of Predators hockey on 102.9 "The Buzz", so make sure to catch Pete, Terry and Tom on the broadcast!
UPDATE: The rosters for tonight's game have been released, so follow below for what is a nearly full strength Nashville squad.
For once, Nashville is in the enviable position of being so far under the cap and yet having entirely too many legitimate NHL players. Games such as tonight's will be Barry Trotz's unit of measurement for paring his roster down to the necessary limit.
Again, these are just my opinions, but I think that through 10 days or so of camp and three games we should be able to assess things fairly accurately. Nick Spaling and Blake Geoffrion have impressed, but its simply a numbers game and one which they find themselves on the wrong side of. We'll have to wait until Wednesday to see them, however, as tonight's lineup is heavy on the veterans:
Revised per Preds PR.
The keys guys to watch in terms of earning NHL spots are O'Reilly, Lundmark, Kostitsyn, Parent, & Pickard. Obviously, some of those guys are closer to locking up NHL (or AHL) jobs than others, but the rest of the lineup are regular Preds.
Despite consistently toiling near the bottom of the Eastern Conference, things appear to be looking up for the Atlanta Thrashers.They've hired Rick Dudley as general manager, who has instantly made an impact with the acquisitions of former Blackhawks Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, and Ben Eager.
Ilya Kovalchuk left, yes, but they've put that behind them. Besides former Preds Chris Mason and Rich Peverley, Atlanta has invested their future in youngsters Zach Bogosian, Tobias Enstrom, Niclas Bergfors, Evander Kane, and Alexander Burmistrov to go along with veterans Ron Hainsey, Nik Antropov, and Bryan Little. Atlanta challenged for a playoff spot last year, and I would not be shocked if they saw even more success this year. Be sure and check out our SBN associates Bird Watchers Anonymous for more on the Thrashers.
As for their lineup...
Both teams are icing strong teams, so I'll guess that Nashville registers a 3-2 victory. As the preseason winds its way to a close, you'll see more and more veterans on the ice for each team, and the fact is that Nashville's veterans surpass Atlanta's in both talent and capability.
To keep up with all of our coverage of the Nashville Predators, you can subscribe to the RSS feed, follow us on Twitter (@Forechecker, @predatweeter, @SLakePreds & @Short_Shifts) or catch the site on Facebook.