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OTF Mailbag: The Predators' Next Enforcer, Thoughts On Mike Ribeiro, P.K. Subban's Impact On Roman Josi And More

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You ask questions and Mark and Marya answer them every Wednesday.

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We're 50 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.

@PredsSigns asks, thoughts on what might happen to Mike Ribeiro if doesn't have the summer of his life?

Mark: Regardless of whether or not he has a great summer or doesn't step into a gym before training camp, I think he still has a spot on this team; at least to start the season. He was bad as soon as the calendar flipped to March last season, but prior to that he did have 42 points to his name through 63 games. With that being said, I don't see him putting up those same numbers unless he is playing on a line with Filip Forsberg.

He is an important piece to this team and I think if Nashville gets another 50 point season from him then you can't particularly complain. He's going to be either good or bad and no in between.

MaryaI'm not sure. Despite the never-ending debate about whether or not Ribeiro is a "good deal", I don't think he actually has a whole lot of trade value. I think best (or worst) case scenario is he gets a start on the de facto third line and either earns a spot next to Forsberg again or is relegated to the press box.

@NicolasOberg asks, with Paul Gaustad, Eric Nystrom and Shea Weber gone, who steps in to be the enforcer besides the casual glove drops from Mike Fisher?

Mark: Cody Bass is who everyone will say and is right in doing so, but I am going to go with Anthony Bitetto. He picked up one fighting major with the Preds last year and wracked up five with Milwaukee back in 2013-14. Outside of dropping the gloves, I think he has that skill set of getting under people's skin. Mattias Ekholm does as well, and Subban can certainly talk, but I think Bitetto may be the guy to step in.

MaryaBass is the obvious candidate for having more penalty minutes in a game than ice time, but I'll say Colton Sissons. Patrick Eaves got the takedown in this one, but Sissons gave it a pretty good go and proved he wasn't just going to take the older player's abuse.


@EricShuff As this upcoming season arrives, what do you think will be deemed as the new Preds "missing piece"?

Mark: One two-week stretch it could be goaltending while another two-week stretch it could be the top-line left-wing spot. Craig Smith, Colin Wilson and Forsberg could obviously slot into that top-line left-wing position and only time will tell who takes over the position on a more consistent basis. Sure, it would be nice to have the same first-line for 82 games, but we know Peter Laviolette is comfortable switching things up. The possibilities are really endless, you could even move James Neal to that side and that then creates the same scenario on the right side and the second-line as well.

MaryaIt's always going to be scoring, even if the team is averaging four goals per game, so the first-line left-wing comes to mind as what will be on everyone's trade deadline wish lists (again). I'm worried that goaltending will prove to be the team's true Achilles' heel again, however.

@GrooGross asks, one team always does...what surprise team doesn't make the playoffs this season?

Mark: I am going to go with the New York Islanders. I think losing Kyle Okposo to Buffalo hurts them more than people realize. Yes, John Tavares can carry that team, but Carolina, Toronto , Buffalo and Montreal could battle for a spot in the East this season.

MaryaOn the understanding that no one will use this hot take against me in April, I'll say the Anaheim Ducks. Their team didn't get any better, they brought in a coach that thinks that helmets cause concussions, and they're relying on an aging core of forwards.

@ChrisBush35 asks, assuming they play together, how will Subban impact Roman Josi's play? Obligated to stay back more or does Josi get even more dynamic?

Mark: The two will go through some growing pains I think, but I don't see them lasting too long. I think both players are so dynamic and unselfiish that one game the bounces and opportunities to carry the puck into the zone and pinch more for one player will be there while one game will be the opposite and we'll see the other put on a show. As far as Josi goes, I don't think you see him become any less dynamic than he already is. Subban and Josi could be the most electrifying pairing in the NHL.

MaryaI see Josi playing a bit more conservatively, at least to start. It will probably take a while for them to develop the give and go relationship needed to be a dynamic offensive pair while not giving up too many chances the other way.

@Condronk asks, if one of Ryan Ellis/Ekholm has a down year, do you think that changes our expansion draft strategy?

Mark: No. The Preds take a bigger step back if they lose one of Ellis or Ekholm than they would losing any forward not named Ryan Johansen, James Neal, Filip Forsberg or Craig Smith. Pretty simple.

MaryaHow much of a down year? If one of them forgets how to play hockey, maybe, but Nashville's defense corps is Poile's pride and joy and they're locked up to team-friendly contracts for a few years. I can't think of any reason for them to expose one of the top four in the expansion draft.

We'll see you all next week.