Another lackluster week passed in the NHL offseason, and we are to the point where the hockey world will do anything for a story. Even if it means spending a full day arguing about Julius Honka on twitter.
What is next for Predators nation? Patience.
Ryan Ellis had a terrific offensive season for the Predators in 2016-2017.
He led all Predators defenseman with 16 goals, finally breaking through in terms of showing the amazing elite goal scoring skill he had when the Predators drafted him 11th overall in the 2009 draft. A fun stat about his amateur career, Ellis is the highest scoring defensemen ever in OHL history posting 73 goals and 314 points.
Last season that skill showed. He was an absolute power play monster, delivering blasts from the point off of Subban set ups, and always seemed to be around the puck.
But there is some reason to be concerned about his offensive output at this type of level moving forward when you dig into the numbers.
For starters, last season was a major aberration to his career shooting numbers. In fact it was almost double his career average of 6.4%. This illustrates why so many shots fell in favor of Ellis. These are 5v5 stats, so they do not include his four power play goals either.
In fact, Ellis led the entire league in shooting percentage for defenseman, which is why next year’s projections look grim: the last five league leaders in shooting percentage for defensemen followed up with a major decline the next season.
It is reasonable to expect Ellis’ won’t match his 12.05% shooting percentage, even with a small sample size to reference. Most likely Ellis will return to his average goal total of around 10.
Now maybe Josi, his defensive partner, is setting Ellis up with better opportunities and that can continue. Or maybe Ellis can improve even more on the Power Play and put up more goals there. Regardless we should still expect a small decline next season, even if Ellis is the most offensively gifted player out of the five examples above.
Predators nation has beaten the Duchene trade talk to death (as have a few fanbases), but I still believe Poile will revisit this trade. I firmly believe the Emelin pick up was insurance for a trade, meaning most likely that Ekholm is moved, which even Elliotte Friedman suggested the Avs were targeting in his last 30 for 30.
Poile knows Sakic's price, which includes a top defenseman. Any trade for a top forward at this point would most likely have to include one of The Four Horsemen. I do believe Poile would let Ekholm go, regardless of him saying he would not move a top four d-man.
So what is the hold up then? Sakic wants Ekholm, plus a pick, plus a prospect. Even for those of us on the "acquire another top center" train, that’s too much.
The bottom line is this. The Predators would not have been linked to Duchene this long if they were not extremely interested. Poile knows the window is open for Nashville, and acquiring another top talent could put the Predators over the edge.
He also would not go out and spend more money on Emelin after a solid year from Irwin, and having a capable backup in Bitteto, if he did not believe he might have to make a trade down the road including someone like Ekholm.
This idea that Poile will not break up the four defenseman is nonsense. If all it took was Ekholm for Duchene straight up, this trade might have been done last year.
The most under the radar team in the Central Division is the St. Louis Blues. Never packing much explosion or fan fare, the St. Louis Blues just consistently win, and with another solid offseason, I like where they are positioned for next season.
They traded 3rd line, underperforming center Jori Lehtera for 2nd line forward Brayden Schenn whose 17 power play goals tied for the league lead. He should bring a boost to the Blues’ power play and provide more top six scoring that they desperately needed.
And while this was the only significant transaction they made, this offseason was more about internal development for the Blues.
Starting at the coaching position with Mike Yeo, who took over for Ken Hitchock over half way into the season. The Blues went 22-8-2 with Yeo. The Blues personnel fits well with Yeo's defense first mindset, and an offseason to get more comfortable should benefit the team.
Jake Allen is perhaps the biggest piece to this puzzle. Nashville fans should know all about what his play can do to an opponent, after an amazing second round showing last playoffs. After Martin Brodeur was brought on to mentor Allen, Allen caught fire in the second half of the season. Entering his second season as the number one in net, Allen could step into “elite” status.
With young playmaker Robby Fabbri coming back after injury, Ivan Barbashev taking another step, and the emphatic eturn of Vladimir Sobotka, the Blues have some young talent that can push the team forward.
With their star talents Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo, and Colton Parakyo leading the way, the Blues will stay in contention in the parity-filled Western Conference.
It’s Poll Time!
Which of the following do the Predators need most to win the Cup next year?
This poll is closed
Trade for a top talent like Duchene
Sign another middle six forward
Hope young forwards develop
Nothing. We got this
Who scores the most goals next season?
This poll is closed