FanPost

Are the Preds Wasting the Primes of two Generational Talents?

Frederick Breedon

I don't know what truly inspired me to write this FanPost but I can safely say that two helpful factors have been the recent posts on here about how "Shea Weber is overrated" coupled with the goals let in by Carter Hutton that seem like he is a 12 year old house league goalie who just bought a new catching glove and has yet to work it in. Nothing makes you appreciate brilliance more than ineptitude and my goal within this venture is to detail exactly how Shea and Peks have supplied the brilliance over the past 6 years while Trotz and Poile are right there providing ample amounts of ineptitude, thus evening out the situation and making it incredibly fitting that we are at .500 right now in the standings. My argument throughout this era is that Poile failed to acquire the proper offensive talent to complement these two hockey gods and that Trotz and his #gritty philosophies helped to hamstring these teams offensively thus rendering us fairly neutral in terms of overall competitiveness within the NHL.

Of course the Norris Trophy-worthy performance of Shea Weber recently against the Devils and the unfortunate upcoming absence from the Olympic games by our Vezina Trophy-worthy goaltender don't hurt matters though I have been feeling this way since the Vancouver series in 2011. I will never forget Pekka Rinne standing on his head against a dominant Ryan Kesler and the imposing Cancuks or Shea Weber becoming the first forechecker late in games as we were unable to generate anything offensively, relying on a 6'4 defenseman who skates like a third liner to initiate scoring chances.

I am going to establish that this "Prime" area will be quantified as 2008-09 to the present day. Shea Weber had already had a superb season in 2006 - 07 at the age of 21 but that was mainly due to the fact that he was on one of the best 5 teams in the league and he truly became an elite defenseman at the age of 24. The first stat line will be that of the team, followed by Pekka Rinne and the third will be that of Shea Weber.

2008-09 NHL Nashville Predators 82 40 34 8 88 .537 -0.19 0.06 5th B. Trotz (40-34-8)
2008-09 26 NSH NHL 52 29 15 4 119 1435 1316 .917 2.38 7 2999 91 12.32 9.9 0 1 1 6
2008-09 23 NSH NHL 81 23 30 53 20 1 80 12 10 1 4 20 1 9 251 9.2 1942 23:58

The year after the great fire sale. Obviously this is not a prime example but it helps in context to establish that despite the fact that financially it was clear this franchise was not in the best place, they possessed two of the best young talents in the league, as Pekka burst onto the scene that year, establishing himself as a starting goaltender while Shea became a familiar face in the Norris discussion. As well, it is a good beginning point as it signals in the beginning of a new era of Smashville Hockey. Though aging, the core of our elite 05 - 07 teams was still mostly intact and we had a few blossoming young forwards in Martin Erat and David Legwand. Aside from that this team is heavily devoid of scoring talent and is looking like a roster that will be mediocre in a few years without major improvements. This squad missed the playoffs on the last day of the season by a single point and likely would have lost in the first round to the 53 win San Jose Sharks in the first round (again!). Obviously, the off season goal would be to acquire cheap young scoring talent that could be added to the core of this aging, #gritty squad.

How wasted were their primes this season? 1 out of 10. The firesale was brutal and the franchise was experiencing some very unsettling times financially and in general. Trotz and Poile very did well with what they had both garnering league wide acclaim for their efforts. Pekka and Shea becoming elite players was a little surprising on both ends and their ascendece signalled the beginning of a new era.

2009-10 NHL Nashville Predators* 82 47 29 6 100 .610 0.06 0.06 3rd Lost NHL Conference Quarter-Finals B. Trotz (47-29-6)
2009-10 27 NSH NHL 58 32 16 5 137 1541 1404 .911 2.53 7 3246 100 -0.27 9.2 0 0 0 2
2009-10 24 NSH NHL 78 16 27 43 16 0 36 9 7 0 3 14 0 13 222 7.2 1807 23:10

The out-of-nowhere emergence of Patric Hornqvist (30 goals, 51 points) helped this team to an impressive 47 wins and a match up in the first round against Western Conference leading Chicago Blackhawks. The series was close enough to suggest a possible Nashville win though fittingly, the elite skill of the Chicago team was the difference closing off the Preds in a heart wrenching game 6 win in OT. Would it have been a different scenario if we had one more skilled forward? The team was still working through it's many large off ice difficulties but it seems that a subtle shift in philosophy and personnel could have greatly helped. Individually it was becoming clear that Shea was a generational talent and that Pekka was one of the best young goaltenders in the NHL. It was also apparent that this team was undergoing a small youth movement as Cody Franson and Colin Wilson stepped onto the scene with fine seasons. In the big picture, it was obvious that this squad was in need of scoring talent to replace the veterans and complement the new guys, though it was a difficult time for the team to be free of distraction.

How wasted were their primes during this season? 3 out of 10. Another skilled forward could have made a huge difference in a surprisingly close Chicago series but we did quite well and again, the off ice situation was horrible. That said, we knew we had something special with both of these studs and the on ice future was bright.

2010-11 NHL Nashville Predators* 82 44 27 11 99 .604 0.31 0.01 2nd Lost NHL Conference Semi-Finals B. Trotz (44-27-11)
2010-11 28 NSH NHL 64 33 22 9 134 1905 1771 .930 2.12 6 3789 81 31.96 15.1 0 0 0 12
2010-11 25 NSH NHL 82 16 32 48 17 7 56 9 6 1 3 21 0 11 254 6.3 2076 25:19

With the old guard gone the way of the dodo bird and the young core beginning to blossom, this this team finished 4th in the West while Pekka registered the 41st best goaltending season in the history of the NHL (according to hockey-ref.com) and Shea was one of the 3 Norris trophy finalists. We finished tied for last in goals scored by playoff teams as we were led by Martin Erat and the enigmatic Sergei Kostitsyn with 50 points each. This was a perfect season to encapsulate offense by committee as we relied upon every player in our lineup to contribute in that way. This strategy fared well in our historic first round win over the Ducks as we received key contributions from role players, played well enough to keep their stars from dominating and advanced to the second round with wind in our sails. In the next series against the President's Trophy winning Vancouver Canucks however, it became clear very quickly that our squad lacked any offensive firepower. Every game seemed to be either a 1 goal loss were we registered 16 shots and 3 scoring chances or a 1 goal win where Pekka stood on his head and one of our forwards #gritted out a sneaky goal (cue Matt Halischuk in OT!). We put up a valiant effort in the series and lost in 6 games to an elite team (and a magnificent performance from Ryan Kesler) and it was becoming pretty obvious that this team heeded major help offensively.

How wasted were their primes this season? 6 out of 10. Sergei Kostitsyn led us in scoring while both of our elite players were nominated for major awards, as Joel Ward was the only player who was able to consistently produce offense come playoff time. Nuff' said. With the franchise mostly recovered from it's various off ice issues, this team squandered a prime chance to knock off the best team in the league in round 2. Shea Weber was our only legit offensive threat in the series and it would have been lost in 4 games if not for the efforts of the magical Pekka Rinne. It was becoming clear that Barry Trotz maybe wasn't an ideal coach to have come postseason.

2011-12 NHL Nashville Predators* 82 48 26 8 104 .634 0.34 0.01 2nd Lost NHL Conference Semi-Finals B. Trotz (48-26-8)
2011-12 29 NSH NHL 73 43 18 8 166 2153 1987 .923 2.39 5 4169 89 20.15 15.5 0 5 5 0
2011-12 26 NSH NHL 78 19 30 49 18 21 46 7 10 2 1 18 0 12 230 8.3 2041 26:10

Rinne posts the 35th best goaltending season of all time and somehow misses out on a Vezina once again. Shea Weber is again a Norris finalist and it is clear that this is by far one of the best duos in hockey. The team surges past an aging Red Wings squad in the first round with help from a recently returned Alexander Radulov who plays at a point per game pace for a month and change. In the second round, we thoroughly outplay a solid Phoenix team for long stretches and somehow lose the series in 5 games, quite fittingly in a 1 - 0 loss in which two of our best to offensive players sit in the pressbox due to a curfew violation. After finishing with the 5th best record in the league, the Predators are hailed as possible Stanley cup contenders heading up to the trade deadline, acquiring Andrei Kostitsyn, Paul Gaustad and Hal Gill. It is clear that we have some blossoming talents in Craig smith, Colin Wilson and Roman Josi but we are still a team that lacks any type of true scoring punch. For the first time in 15 years there is legitimate unrest in Predsland after a highly disappointing exit in the playoffs and I feel for the first time that we are truly squandering the primes of our two All world hockey payers, Shea Weber and Pekka Rinne.

How wasted were their primes this season? 7 out of 10. The omission of Rads and AK46 from the lineup card of a game 5 in which we failed to score is easily one of the worst NHL decisions of the decade (as imposed by both Trotz and Poile after a very minor curfew violation). It is becoming as well very apparent that Trotz is not a coach that thrives in the playoffs as our team basically combusted throughout a series in which we clearly should gave won. David Poile does fairly well to acquire scoring talent for the playoff run though you could see the Ryan Suter situation as a miscue.

2012-13 NHL Nashville Predators 48 16 23 9 41 .427 -0.50 0.09 5th B. Trotz (16-23-9)
2012-13 30 NSH NHL 43 15 16 8 99 1101 1002 .910 2.43 5 2444 102 -2.03 6.6 0 1 1 8
2012-13 27 NSH NHL 48 9 19 28 10 -2 48 6 3 0 1 0 0 0 124 7.3 1244 25:55

After a stretch of play fairly comparable to the prime of Dominik Hasek, Pekka Rinne comes down to earth a little and Shea Weber copes with the loss of his long time defense partner, Ryan Suter. Led by the emerging talent of Colin Wilson, the team plays quite well through the first half of the season only to be hit by a devastating rash of injuries to their forward core. Though unfortunate, it truly exposes our lack of depth at forward as we play with a virtual AHL lineup for the rest of the year finishing in 26th overall, leading us to draft Seth Jones. Somewhat sadly, we finally finish low enough to be able to draft some of the very promising elite forward talent yet we stumble upon the best defensive prospect of the decade.

How wasted were their primes this season? 8 out 10. Regardless of injuries or the Shea Weber offer sheet this was a team that yet again wasn't ready to truly contend in the NHL despite having two established stars at crucial positions. After the trade by the request of Martin Erat to Washington, it's becoming clear that this franchise is closer to rebuilding rather than competing, as their two generational players near the apex of their primes. Fillip Forsberg becomes the first elite offensive Predators prospect since Radulov in '04 and only the second in 15 years.

2013-14 NHL Nashville Predators 56 25 23 8 58 .518 -0.49 0.03 5th B. Trotz (25-23-8)
2013-14 31 NSH NHL 9 4 4 1 19 229 210 .917 2.31 0 493 95 0.90 1.5 0 0 0 0
013-14 28 NSH NHL 53 15 23 38 14 -10 28 6 9 0 3 13 0 10 132 11.4 1415 26:42

After offseason hip surgery, Pekka Rinne suffers a bacterial infection that sidelines him for most of the year, causing him to miss starting for Finland at the 2014 Olympics while Shea Weber plays some of the best hockey he's played in 10 years, leading the NHL in goals by a defenseman so far. The mediocre offseason signings championed by David Poile produce as expected and the team struggles offensively once again. The squad sits near the bottom of the NHL for most of the year and registers a goal differential that suggests a lottery team. It is becoming quite clear that Barry Trotz is a hindering factor in the development of young forwards as is he equally inhibiting to the overall offensive success of this squad through his dump and chase philosophy as the elite of the NHL embrace a more confident up tempo puck possession style.

How wasted were their primes this season? 9 out of 10. Reading the OTF threads from the last year or so can give you a perfect idea of why David Poile and Barry Trotz are almost nearly perfectly wasting the primes of two of the elite talents of their generation, if not of all time. Clearly, there have been some mitigating factors along the way, but it remains very apparent that this franchise has missed the boat on what could have been aa extremely productive era. Where we go from here remains to be seen but I'm certainly not overly hopeful after the results of the past decade.

This FanPost was written by an OTF reader, and does not represent the views of the editorial staff. Got something you'd like to share? <a href="http://www.sbnation.com/admin/entries/new?community_id=208&entry_type=FanPost" target="new">Post your own</a>!

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