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Nashville Predators 2016-2017 Season Preview: Fringe Players

Wrapping up our 2016-2017 season previews.

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

The previews of the Nashville Predators continue! Here is the breakdown of our preseason coverage:

The Nashville Predators have a made a lot of roster moves over the past few seasons, but what does that mean for the fringe players looking for full time NHL gigs?

Position Strengths

Youth and molded talent.

Most of the players who are teetering on the edge of finally getting their call-up like Kevin Fiala, Pontus Aberg, Vladislav Kamenev are young and have been molded to the organization by their time in Milwaukee. This is a win-win for the players and the Predators. The players will know what’s expected of them and the team won’t have to waste time waiting for the younger players to adapt to their system.

Position Weaknesses

Maturity and depth.

It’s no secret that players like Fiala have had their moments of maturity lapse in the past. These guys are young, it happens. It’s hard to remember that some of these players are still teenagers when they leave their home countries and dedicate their lives to the game. Sometimes the pressure takes a toll. This will always be a crucial deciding factor on who makes the roster, so these young guys will have to keep their emotions in check if they want to move forward.

The Predators roster is running deep right now. It’s hard to say who will finally get their chance and who will spend countless weeks scratched or seeing little ice time. There are a lot of one-way contracts and a lot of established players to work around. The depth is good for the team, but not so great for those in waiting.

Catalyst of the Group

Pontus Aberg

Aberg raised some eyebrows last year when he saw ice time during the playoffs over Mike Ribeiro. If that doesn’t spur some motivation I don’t know what will. While he might not make the roster right out of training camp this year, don’t be surprised to see him in the big show throughout the season.

Aberg is a smaller, speedier winger with a nice defensive approach to his game. Don’t sleep on his offensive ability though. He can pass and skate quite well. This is an older highlight, but this goal right here shows what he’s capable of:

Breakout Player

Kevin Fiala

Nashville has been waiting and waiting and waiting some more for Fiala to finally get a full time roll with the Predators. After some fantastic showings during his call-ups this could finally be the year for the youngster from Switzerland. He’ll have to prove his maturity and maintain an elevated level of play, but if he can he could get comfortable along side Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen on the first line.

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Kevin Fiala

Montreal Canadiens v Nashville Predators Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

What he adds to the mix:

There has always been a lot of hype surrounding Fiala since he was drafted. While the Predators offense may no longer be starving like it was, Fiala can fill some of the remaining holes. He’s a fast player who can create plays and score goals, which is something Nashville can always thrive off of.

Expectations for this season:

Play in the NHL but don’t rush your development.

Fiala wants to play in the NHL, he hasn’t made that a secret and the fans want to see him with the Predators. Fiala getting a lot of playing time in the NHL this season is pretty reasonable. The biggest concern with Fiala is not rushing his development. He’s poised to be an elite NHL player for the long haul, but he still needs some fine tuning.

Bottom line - don’t be surprised to see long stretches with Fiala, but don’t be surprised to see long stretches without him either.

What does the future hold?

A long standing first line role beside Johansen and Forsberg. Period.

Pontus Aberg

San Jose Sharks v Nashville Predators - Game Three Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

What he adds to he mix:

While Aberg could easily be the broody evil twin of Viktor Arvidsson, he’s a great forward who the Predators could easily rely on. With NHL playoff experience under his belt he’s a player that could easily add some scoring power to the roster.

Expectations this season:

Battling the likes of Arvidsson and Fiala for a spot Aberg will have to prove his goal scoring capabilities. He’s been able to score a lot of goals for the Admirals but his shooting percentage is a bit of a concern. If he wants to produce in the NHL he’ll have to make sure he’s putting shots on goal every chance he gets.

What does the future hold?

Aberg can easily fill a lasting forward role with the Predators. He falls somewhere in the middle on the second or third line, but that’s not a bad place to be considering the company he would share with the likes of James Neal, Craig Smith, and Mike Fisher.

Vladislav Kamenev

2014 NHL Draft - Portraits Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

What he adds to the mix:

Kamenev has a pretty impressive career under his belt with being named captain of Russia’s U20 World Juniors team and also being named to the AHL All Star Classic last year. He could be a huge assist to the Predators power play and penalty kill units with his two-way style of play.

Expectations this season:

We may see a call up of Kamenev this season, but his time with the Predators will be limited. He’s still adapting to the North American game and will be better suited spending a little more time developing his offensive game in Milwaukee.

What does the future hold?

If Kamenev can develop his offensive play he’s slated to be a solid top second line center for the Predators. A role he could easily fill sooner rather than later with Fisher and Ribeiro getting older.