The summer months are tough, but a lot has happened this summer in Nashville Predators land so let's discuss.
Mark and Marya will bring you a mailbag each week discussing the Predators while trying to deliver hot takes just at the right temperature as they give you their thoughts on the questions at hand.
@PatrickKaneisbad asks if P.K. Subban was a Pokémon, which would he be?
Mark: Subban obviously has some personality, and when I think about personality and Pokemon my mind immediately turns to Pikachu thanks to watching the show so much as a kid. I'm going to go a step further though and say he would be a Raichu. The bigger, stronger version of Pikachu.
Marya: Despite devoting a ton of time to Pokemon GO, I actually don't know very much about individual Pokemon. I would say he's a Slowbro because he looks like he'll be really good but I don't know how best to deploy him yet.
@PredsTalk asks who will lead the Preds in points and how many will he score?
Mark: I think Roman Josi is going to flirt with the 70 point mark this season and lead the team in points. Sure, that P.K. Subban guy is going to get his, but I think Josi is going to thrive next to Subban. He is going to be given more free will on the man advantage and I think he tops his 61 point 2015-16 season. With that, I say Subban hovers around the 50 point mark.
Marya: I think Ryan Johansen will crack 70, which hasn't been done since 2008. Filip Forsberg clocks in at number nine in Nashville's record season totals, and I expect that number to climb, but I think Joey will pick up a few more points.
@DigDeepBSB asks what kind of money will Johansen see in his next contract?
Mark: Obviously his production this season will play a major impact on what his new contract will look like, but if David Poile can get him on the books on a long-term deal, say six or seven years at $7.5 million or less, that would be a great signing. He just turned 23-years-old on July 31, so signing him until his 30th birthday with a reasonable cap hit would be a fantastic move.
Marya: He'll be making six million in salary next year, and he'll get a raise from that. I'm not sure how much wizardry we can expect from Poile, but it will be essentially a UFA contract. Ryan O'Reilly's contract may be a good comparable, who was signed for seven years at $7.5 million. He may command more, depending on his production.
@DigDeepBSB also asks our thoughts on Mattias Ekholm's extension one year in.
Mark: I don't think there is anyway you can think of a negative side of Ekholm's contract (he signed a six-year, $3.75 mil AAV contract Oct. 26, 2015). Both Ryan Ellis and Ekholm are underrated blue liners, but I think Ekholm has fallen into the more underrated category as of late and I don't think that changes thanks to the personnel in Nashville. He has been an incredibly important piece on Nashville's blue line and that won't change in the coming years.
Marya:I'm very happy with it. Ekholm is incredibly underrated (except by a few who overrate him based on charts) and solidifies Nashville's blueline as one of the best. Getting him locked up so affordably is key as Nashville begins to be a cap team.
Lomn asks, via the comments section, suppose by New Year's one or two of Wilson/Jarnkrok/Arvidsson/whoever have breakout seasons. The pinch at protecting on four forwards from Vegas is on. Should trading Ellis or Ekholm, making 7F/3D the preferred protection option, be on the table?
Mark: I don't think any of those players mentioned could have a type of breakout season that puts them higher on the list of players to protect over Ekholm or Ellis. I am not a passenger on the Viktor Arvidsson hype train; I think he is a replaceable player to say the least just as Marya alludes to. The Preds' blue line cabinet is rather thin in terms of players that could step in and play the same roles of Ellis or Ekholm, there are players in the system or players that can be acquired to fill the roles of Colin Wilson, Calle Jarnkrok or Arvidsson.
Marya: No. I can't imagine the sort of breakout season from any of them that would justify losing Ellis or Ekholm. If Wilson makes some noise, I would move him. Arvidsson is an extremely replaceable player. I think Jarnkrok is valuable and also the player most likely to get taken in an expansion draft, but Poile may be able to strike a deal with the new team to select a different player.
Rew182 asks, via the comments section, third year with Laviolette; any worries about the potential blow-up that seems to follow Lavi after three seasons?
Mark: There may be some growing pains with the departure of Shea Weber and the addition of Subban, but if there is any type of 'blow-up' with the pieces this team has I would be shocked. I think the team in front of Pekka Rinne is one of the best in the NHL, at least on paper, and if this team comes in ready to work and has a short memory, then Preds' fans are in store for a fun ride.
Marya: Not this season. The team is still young and highly motivated and most of the news I've seen from the players this summer is that they're focused on training. That's sort of pat and expected from hockey players, but there are very few players on this team where work ethic is a rumored problem. One of them has been in constant communication with the training staff and the other got called out by the general manager.
James Vallone, via Facebook asks, who do you expect to be wearing the 'C' and 'A's' on their sweaters this season?
Mark: I think there are only three real options for who will rock the 'C' this season and those being Mike Fisher, James Neal and Josi with Fisher and Josi being the front-runners. There is a chance this could be Fisher's last season, and giving him the 'C' would be a classy move given his time with the organization. I think we see Fisher get the 'C' with Josi and Neal taking the 'A's' and then we have this same discussion next season.
Marya: While I would likely prefer Fisher to get a transitionary 'C' with the captaincy going to another player the next season,I expect Josi will get the 'C' while Fisher and Neal retain the permanent 'A's'. Maybe they'll name Subban or Filip Forsberg as replacement alternates like they did for Josi this past year.