We've broken the 30-day mark and are now just 29 days away from the start of Nashville Predators training camp.
Mark and Marya will answer questions in the mailbag each week discussing the Predators while trying to deliver hot takes at just the right temperature.
@ja_batte asks, how can the Preds improve their 3v3 OT? Does the addition of P.K. Subban help?
Mark: How can they approve in the 3-on-3 overtime is not treat the situation like the power play as we saw them do more often than not last season. The Preds certainly have the personnel to possess the puck in a dominant fashion and a plethora of blue liners that should make them one of the more dangerous overtime teams in the league.
I think we see a system change in terms of 3-on-3 play and the addition of Subban shouldn’t do anything but help Nashville’s overtime play. A Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg/Ryan Johansen and Subban pairing for overtime could be lethal.
Marya: The addition of Subban should definitely help, but what's needed is more of a philosophical and system change than it really is about personnel. They need to gain the zone and put a shot on goal instead of trying to set it up like an ineffective powerplay. Very few teams have what it takes to maintain possession while attempting to cycle the puck in 3-on-3, and the Preds aren't one of them. Adding another skating, offensive presence on the back end should help with that.
@brandowriter asks, is there anything the Predators could've done differently to sign Vesey and would it have been worth it anyway? (@brandowriter)
Mark: I think the organization did everything in its power to get Vesey to Nashville. They offered him a spot, or at least chance to prove himself, during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. If that’s not appealing I don’t know what is; especially for a player that has zero playing time in the NHL.
Vesey likely thinks, just like every player breaking into the league, that he can be a first-line winger and Nashville simply doesn’t have a spot for him on that top line or second-line for that matter; at least not immediately. But then again, the Rangers don’t really either which makes his decision a head-scratcher.
All of it was a head-scratcher.
Marya: Pressure him to sign earlier? By the time his rights got traded to Buffalo, going to free agency had become a goal in and of itself. I don't know if doing anything else would have been worth it, and maybe doing less in an effort to save face might even have been a bit more preferable. He's a resource the organization poured quite a bit of development into, but the reason he caused such interest this summer was because he was going to be a free asset to get picked up by another team that could walk onto the roster immediately.
The Preds aren't really hurting for second and third-line winger depth, which is his likely ceiling. It's unfortunate and I don't think he made a very smart decision, but this isn't going to hurt the team.
@civilwarsyndrom asks, what games do you have circled on the calendar?
Mark: You can’t not be excited about the season opener against Chicago as they visit 501 Broadway on Oct. 14. With that being said, it’s hard not to circle all eight games during Oct. which features Dallas, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose.
Shea Weber returns to Nashville on Jan. 3 which will be a fun night as well. Will he smile during his video tribute or just stand up, stare and give a quick wave?
Marya: The home opener, definitely. It will be one of two games for us that will be nationally televised this season and the crowd should be rocking. The other one that immediately comes to mind is Weber's return to Nashville. What will his video package look like? Will I cry?
@PredsTalk asks, which are you looking forward to more, NYR at home, or MTL at the Bell?
Mark: The visit to the Bell Centre is more appealing in my eyes on March 2. Whether the Habs address Subban’s return to Montreal with a tribute or not, the place is going to erupt when he hits the ice and it would be nice to see him light the lamp and celebrate like he’s never celebrated before.
Three low-fives with Rinne would be pretty sweet.
Subban vs Weber at the Bell Centre for the first time after the trade is must-watch TV.
Marya: NYR at home. Montreal at the Bell Centre will only be notable if they pull a Toronto vs Phil Kessel and choose not to acknowledge Subban (a possibility). Hopefully we can come up with something sufficiently cutting and funny to taunt that one guy while not crossing any lines of tastefulness. Or we could just boo. As long as we win, that's fine with me.
@addisonpiggott asks, in the post season press conference, Poile talked about extending Ryan Johansen. When can we expect to see that?
Mark: If he isn’t signed before the season opener, I would guess they would wait until after the season to ink him to a new contract. David Poile the wizard will work his magic at one time or another.
Marya: I'm not expecting him to get signed very soon, and probably not during the season. Hopefully he's re-signed right after the season ends. I think Poile's ability to get deals done has been pretty good in the recent past but letting it go too long makes me nervous.
@BradenGall asks, rank teams in the Central based on off-season improvement. Is NSH first among legit contenders?
Mark: I think Dallas adding Jiri Hudler makes them even deadlier up front, but their blue line and goaltending is still a major question mark. Winnipeg is a team that no one is talking about whatsoever but I think they improved in a big way. Their blue line is deep and if they give Michael Hutchinson the No. 1 goalie spot (they probably won’t) they could be that ‘sleeper team.’
Chicago adding Brian Campbell doesn’t hurt anything, but they stayed steady as they always do but also lost Teuvo Teravainen. The Carter Hutton led Blues lost David Backes which could either be a big deal or not. Then you have Colorado who is the biggest question mark in the NHL. Lastly, Minnesota hired Bruce Boudreau and are still an older overpaid bunch that won’t be exciting.
My rankings: Nashville, Winnipeg, Dallas, Chicago, Colorado, Minnesota, St. Louis.
Marya: I think Nashville improved the most, with most teams regressing or staying roughly the same. St. Louis lost a lot of scoring and brought in everyone's favorite color commentator, Carter Hutton. Dallas didn't fix their goaltending situation and lost some experience on defense. Chicago mostly tread water, and their success is going to depend on that of their prospects (assuming Quenneville gives them playing time).
Colorado managed to not trade Tyson Barrie, but they also don't know who their coach is going to be. Minnesota got a new coach and not much else, so this may be the year that Boudreau doesn't win his division. Of all the teams, I think Winnipeg might be the most improved besides Nashville. They have a lot off good prospects and should be at least a bit healthier this year, but they also insist on giving Ondrej Pavelec playing time.
@brandon_felder asks, is it unpatriotic to cheer for Team North America at the World Cup? Torts and his system are not fun to cheer for/watch.
Mark: What? You’re not pulling for the youngsters? I personally hope they don’t have a single morning skate, take a few laps around the ice before actual puck drop for each game (with some type of new rap music playing) and they beat everyone by five #Millennials. For Preds fans, obviously Sweden is a team to keep an eye on with Mattias Ekholm and Forsberg.
Marya: Team Young Guns all the way! I don't like the way that USA Hockey has been constructing its teams, and the U24 team is chock full of players I love to watch. Seth Jones, Brandon Saad, Johnny Gaudreau, Jack Eichel… Think of it as a junior Team USA with a few other players who weren't blessed by the location of their birth; and some really cool jerseys.
@john_smith426 asks, years from now who has more career points. Fiala/Arviddson
Mark: Kevin Fiala. Viktor Arvidsson will likely have triple the amount of shots on net to his name at that time, but Fiala is a playmaker with a scoring touch while Arvidsson skates hard and shoots the puck in the general area of the net every time it touches his stick. Fiala’s upside and skill set is well beyond Arvidsson’s but Arvidsson has more NHL experience due to the role he plays.
Marya: Unless Fiala just washes out completely, I think it's Fiala, hands down. Arvidsson is a great complementary player who shoots everything and has a great work ethic, but Fiala has a much better offensive sense and ability to distribute the puck. If Fiala can learn even a fraction of that bullish style of play away from the puck, he should seize a roster spot very quickly.