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Mike Fisher Season Preview: The Waiting Game

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While we wait on Mike Fisher's return to the lineup, we'll get to see brand new players and line combinations attempt to make up for his absence.

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As far as season previews go, this was a tough one to write. I was tempted to put "PRAY HE COMES BACK" in the body and call it a day, but that would just be silly. Ultimately, all of these are about wild speculation anyway, so we'll just dive in:

For a hot minute, it looked like either Fish or Olli Jokinen was going to get the honor of centering James Neal, the sniper Nashville has always dreamed of. (Sorry, Colin Wilson.) Maybe not the best of circumstances, but it could at least hold water until David Poile found away to bring in an honest-to-goodness top-line center. Better than nothing, right?

Less than a week after free agency, disaster struck in the form of a ruptured Achilles tendon. Zito's words from that day captured the emotion we were all feeling:

This is the absolute worst. Mike Fisher was 4th in scoring for the Preds a season ago, and his leadership, experience, and let's face it, his handsomeness will be very difficult to replace.

That's true. Mike Fisher has become an integral part of the Predators' roster since coming over from Ottawa in 2011. He consistently ranks near the top of the team leader board in addition to gobbling up oodles of ice time. He was third overall on the entire team this past year. And he is really freaking handsome.

However, despite all of that, Fisher has never been a possession dynamo, so to speak. Especially last year, having one of the worst relative Corsi marks on a below average team. (Only Eric Nystrom and Paul Gaustad were worse.) The good news is, that while that loss felt huge at the time, the spending spree extreme coupon prowess the organization displayed help ease the pain.

Poile more than made up for Fisher's absence with the signing of Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy. Ribeiro has a higher point ceiling and Roy could have similar points with better possession numbers. Jokinen is an added bonus. Not only can he make up for the 40 points Fisher is leaving behind (and has very comparable fancy stats) but Joker has plenty of leadership capability as well.

Trying to predict the best possible line combinations for the Predators roster is already next to impossible, so trying to slot Fisher into the equation right now is a fool's errand. We'd hope that by the time he returns, Peter Laviolette will have found the most compatible combos. (If he hasn't, God help us all.) Fisher has proven over the years that he can fit just about anywhere in the lineup and be productive. We shouldn't be worried about him, but is any possible chemistry going to be ruined when he comes back? I'll start the popcorn.

The fact is, the Predators will be okay without Fisher, at least in the short term. There are players able to set up in his place, as well as plenty of rookies waiting for their shot on the big club. That isn't to say the team doesn't need him, though. Everyone in the locker room, in the stands, and watching at home is going to eagerly anticipating his return.

It's just going to be one hell of a game of musical chairs when he comes back, though.

Best Case Scenario

His mutilated ankle completely heals in the minimum amount of time, and he's able to return while providing crucial help on both the second and third lines.

Worst Case Scenario

Because of his injury and his impending bundle of doom joy, Fish calls it quits without stepping on the ice at all this season. We're all thinking it.

Bold Prediction

The Fisher-Underwood progeny coincides with the alignment of the planets, ushering in an era of unlimited Stanley Cups for non-traditional markets, and Sound of Music specials galore. Peace and hockeyness reign supreme.

Spirit Animal

Do you even have to ask? Amends have been made, and Fisher is now one with the Sciuridae.