Now that healthy players are finally returning to fill out the lineup, it's worth taking a look at the Nashville Predators and how they'll impact your fantasy hockey team over the next week.
After the jump, let's see who you should start or bench...
Steve Sullivan, Jason Arnott, and J.P. Dumont have finally gotten a couple games together on the top line after a variety of injuries kept them apart early on, and the results have been impressive so far. Over the next two weeks the Preds play a heavy home-ice schedule that should allow Barry Trotz to get them favorable matchups, and when combined with all the power play opportunities they can handle, those three should all be considered solid options for your fantasy lineup.
On defense, Shea Weber has successfully returned from a foot injury that caused him to miss a week earlier this month. He's making a strong case for a spot on Team Canada's roster at the Winter Olympics, and is on pace to meet or exceed his 23 goals from last season.
Pekka Rinne appears to be establishing himself as the dominant presence in goal, having earned his second shutout of the season last night and having given up 2 goals or less in 5 of his last 6 games. Just as importantly, Nashville's overall team defense has tightened up
Martin Erat, despite earning 3 assists during the last week, is still struggling to make a consistent impact offensively, and has seen his ice time drop considerably. In each of the first 9 games of the season he played at least 17 minutes, a mark he has exceed only once in the last six. He's currently playing on the 3rd line, and during Saturday night's win over Montreal, he played only 12:46, his lowest ice time of the season.
Until he produces regularly enough to earn his way back into the Top Six, he's not someone you want taking up a roster spot.
#10 / Left Wing / Nashville Predators
Aug 29, 1981
|2009 - Martin Erat||15||1||3||4||-8||10||0||0||0||0||31||3.2|
On the Fence
David Legwand, while still under-performing offensively, has at least shown signs of life (1 goal and 3 assists in his last 8 games), and continues to get healthy amounts of ice time.
Patric Hornqvist leads the team in Shots On Goal, but could get pushed down the depth chart now that the top line is reunited. Once Colin Wilson returns to action (hopefully last this week) he might get on a more favorable line, but in the short term his production might take a hit.
Ryan Suter remains paired with Shea Weber on Nashville's top unit, but doesn't assert himself offensively as much in 5-on-5 situations, nor does he look to shoot from the point with Weber at the opposite corner. Unless the Predators power play starts producing on a consistent basis, Suter's numbers will likely lag well behind his partner's.
Dan Ellis is capable of beating good teams on any given night, but is only likely to get a minority of the starts based on Rinne's play of late. You'll need to check on the day of a game to see if he's going to get in there.