Let's get this out of the way early.
The staff roster for this piece is Chris Link, Anish Patel, George "The Memphis Tiger" Scoville, Zeke Starr, Alex Daugherty, Caroline Davis, Jeremy Sargent, Kristopher Martel, Dirk Hoag, and Jon Garcia. Joining the staff will be Rebeka
Hutchings Wright from LadyPreds, and the man known as Gumpyyy who happens to be the lord and czar of /r/Predators.
So kick back, read up, and enjoy the show.
5. Filip Forsberg had a very good year by anyone's standard, and James Neal had a modest year by his own standard. How many goals are you expecting from the top line this year?
Link: The Preds are going to be a team of 25 goal scores. I see Neal and Forsberg scoring a combined 55 goals with Ribeiro adding about another 13 goals. So… 68 goals. That’s a real number, be excited. Though my hope is that Forsberg hits the 30 mark, because I believe he can do it.
Anish: I think between Neal and Forsberg, you are good for 50 goals (split that how you wish to). With Ribeiro, I would say you can count on another 15. 65 goals is what I predict, and I think that is very achievable for the top line.
George: I think Filip Forsberg has another level, and we know James Neal does. That line needs to come up with some way to account for at least 80-85 G in the regular season if this team is going to go deep. Now, how many do I expect? I expect one hat trick per month, but that and $2.85 will get me a Grande Pike at Starbucks.
Zeke: Neal and Forsberg should combine for 57 goals, I don't care how they divvy it up, just get it done boys. Anything we get from our ‘number-one’ center is just gravy.
Alex: I won't be happy with less than 60. As I mentioned, I think Neal has a career year and Forsberg continues to grow. I see Neal getting 35 and Forsberg getting 25-30.
Beka: If you assume your top line to be Neal, Forsberg, and Ribeiro, I don’t think it’s unrealistic that Forsberg notch 30-35 goals, Ribeiro pitching in another 15-25 (since he’s the setup man of that line), and then, what you get out of Neal is a question mark. He’s a guy that – in the past – has put up 40, but last year, he didn’t quite live up to those expectations. However, he was adjusting into a new team and teammates and tackled a few minor injuries. Now that he has had time to get comfortable with Nashville, I think about 30 goals would be very obtainable for Neal this season.
Gumpy: I doubt we see a noteworthy difference. The top line has the skill needed to stay consistent. Neal's modest year wasn't a major issue. Until we find the top center we're looking for, the first line is everything we could want or hope for.
Caroline: 120 would be nice. Is that too hopeful? Ok ok, 70 is probably a more reasonable stretch
Jeremy: Forsberg is a known commodity now so opposing teams will be able to scout him and try to shut him down. This should open up the ice for the true sniper skills of James Neal to shine, especially with Mike Ribeiro feeding him the puck. Forsberg, even with the extra attention will continue to dazzle and put up 29 goals, Neal should net 30 and Ribeiro with 14 for a grand total of...73 goals.
Kris: 70 goals? I'd say that would be a fair assessment between Forsberg, Ribeiro and whoever stays alongside the two. Most likely it'll remain Neal, but that changed from time to time last year.
Dirk: If you take the top line as Forsberg/Ribeiro/Neal, I'd peg that group for 75 goals. The wingers should average 30 each, and toss in 15 for Ribeiro.
Jon: 65. It's a lofty benchmark, but both Forsberg and Neal have the skill to flirt with 30-goals. Forsberg has to keep on doing what he was last year, and Neal needs to be better in many areas, but specifically on the power play. Even if one scores 25, one scores 30, and everyone else scores the rest, count it a success.
6. Fill in the blank: This year's Nashville Predators season will be remembered as the most _____________ season ever.
Link: Controversial. Ribeiro is going to be more divisive as critics and supporters will be watching him closely for his on-ice and off-ice performances. Speaking only of his on-ice, I find his demeanor and actions to be crass and beneath the expectations I would hope the Nashville Predators would have for their players, but that’s probably just me. On a better note, there are a lot of aging, ineffective players that are nearing the end of their contracts with some interesting talent ready to move up. This can lead to culture change, system change, and more. Should lead to lots of good discussion.
Anish: Up-and-down. The Preds can be a streaky team, and I wouldn't expect anything less from them this year as well.
Alex: Banner-filled. (!!!!!)
Beka: Anticipated. Because, coming off the momentum from last season, I believe there is a lot expected out of Nashville this coming season. Yes, that momentum fell off towards the end, but the Predators seemed to regain some of that during the playoffs. Yes, they went out in the first round, but it could be argued that Nashville gave Chicago their hardest battle of the playoffs. Sadly, the Predators had the unfortunate chance of meeting the Blackhawks in the first round. I have no doubt had Nashville been paired against the Minnesota, St. Louis, or Winnipeg, they would have moved on to the second round. I’d also say it could be the most exciting season ever, too. The All-Star Weekend will bring some much-needed positive exposure to the city of Nashville and the franchise as a whole.
Gumpy: Golden. Golden merchandising! Golden T-shirt, Golden Coloring Book, Golden Lunch box, Golden Breakfast Cereal, Golden Flame Thrower!
Kris: Unpredictable. This season has the potential to be one-of-a-kind, to be honest. However, that being said, Nashville could flop and be a massive tire fire. I don't see that being the case, but I'm not 100 percent ready to put my money down that they'll have another 100 point season.
Dirk: "Transitional" - I can't put my finger on exactly how, but I have a feeling that the answer to the long-running question at center will be answered at some point this season. I can't believe that the real plan is for Ribeiro and Fisher to man the top two lines for the next two seasons. Could they pull off a deal for Eric Staal, for example? If so, then the Predators could position themselves to truly break new ground as a franchise. Otherwise, I see this as another decent team that will probably get knocked out in the early rounds of the playoffs again.
Jon: GOLD. Just kidding, I'm going with emotional.