We're 43 days away from the start of Nashville Predators training camp. So close yet so, so far.
Mark and Marya will answer questions in the mailbag each week discussing the Nashville Predators while trying to deliver hot takes at just the right temperature.
TitansPredsGrizzBulls, via the comments section, asks, with fairly obvious holes at left-wing and center in the top-six, what are the chances that Kevin Fiala and/or Vladislav Kamenev see good time in Nashville this year, and if they aren’t consistent roster players this year, how would you rate their chances to be in Nashville in ‘17-’18?
Mark: Between both of those players, I think Fiala has a better shot at seeing “good time” in Nashville this season. Kamenev will get a cup of coffee, but I don’t see him seeing a good chunk of time with the Preds this season. I think this is a huge year for Fiala where he needs to continue to show improvement. I think both have a very strong chance at being in Nashville in 2017-18.
Marya: I think they're locks for the 17-18 season if they haven't been moved for something else. They should see time in Nashville even without making the team out of camp, but if they play more than a few games for any other reason than they're blowing the competition off the ice, I'd be worried.
Herzausstein1, via the comments sections, asks, is there a future for Cody Bass on this team?
Mark: I think he skates in around 20-30 games this season and probably follows that same pattern next year as well. The organization obviously likes him, but he is a replaceable player. He’s signed to a $612,500 AAV contract through the 2017-18 campaign.
Marya: If by future, you mean skating in about forty games this upcoming season before fading into obscurity and then moving on to another organization's AHL team, sure.
@GoonerBorusse asks who will score more goals this season, James Neal or Filip Forsberg?
Mark: I’ll go with Neal. I think him and Ryan Johansen are going to explode onto the scene this season as one of the deadliest duos in the NHL. It will be extremely close, but I think Neal has a big, big year. That’s not to say Forsberg won’t, but I’ll go Neal with 34 goals and Forsberg with 31.
Marya: My money's on Forsberg. Neal is the more pure goal-scorer, but Forsberg is just so good that I prefer not to bet against him. What highlights will the Prince gift us with this year?
@JakeHanson asks who will end up as third defensive pair? Matt Carle/Yannick Weber?
Mark: I think Granberg, Bitetto, Carle and Weber all get some playing time on that bottom pairing, but it’s tough not to give the nod to Carle and Weber. They both have experience under their belt. A Carle/Weber pairing rounding out the defensive group is stronger than Bitetto/Granberg. Their could be a wrinkle in the mix with one of the two hypothetical pairings splitting up and maybe a strong pairing emerges from that.
Marya: Carle/Weber sounds good. The defense is short on older vets with Jackman's exit and Weber is probably at least a marginal improvement over Anthony Bitetto and Petter Granberg. I think Granberg has a good chance of starting out the year in Milwaukee if he's not grabbed by another team, and Bitetto is expansion bait.
@Drew_Vkamp asks what specific things should we look for to tell us that P.K. Subban is having an impact (beyond goals, assists, etc)?
Mark: One of the biggest stats I’ll be looking at is the shots against rate in high-danger areas, which Marya points out as well. Also, the Preds had the fourth best shots allowed per 60 minutes during 5-on-5 play last season (27.23, Via Corsica) and keeping that number close to that is something that needs to happen.
Marya: Goals and assists are the most obvious signs, since they made the swap to bolster the offensive system, but I want to see what he does in his own end. What does our goals against average look like? What about shots against rate in high danger areas? I want those to at least hold steady.
Bfarrish05, via the comments section, asks, president/GM for a day… what OFF ICE change would you make?
Mark: Nothing really comes to mind, to be honest. I’ve heard some stories about ticket horrors but every organization goes through that. Everyone has their good experiences and bad, but I think the Preds do a pretty swell job in most facets. I’m sure you all will give us ideas in the comments section.
Marya: Does getting rid of the gold buckets count as on- or off-ice? Other than that, I would make home games against certain teams less unpleasant for home fans and actually stick to what I say I'd do. Real security, turning away overly intoxicated fans at the door, a bouncer in every section, following through on electronic ticketing, etc. I have a lot of suggestions for them if they ever get serious about it instead of just being cute.
@Drew_Vkamp asks is there any reason whatsoever to care about the World Cup o' Hockey?
Marya: Sure, we’ll get to watch some of the best players in the world play hockey earlier than we usually get to. Other than that, there’s not a ton to “care about” rather just getting to watch hockey. Team North America is going to be fun to watch, that’s for sure.
Marya: It's hockey a couple weeks earlier than actual regular season hockey. Sure, it's a dumb gimmick, but it has been weeks since I got any more hockey than grainy feeds of the U-20 American team feeding the rest of the field their lunch in exhibition. There's no "real" reason to care, though.