To be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect out of Vernon Fiddler upon his return to the Predators. General Manager David Poile brought him back to add some veteran presence and maybe push some guys around on the ice when they took too many liberties with the Preds’ stars. Fiddler played primarily as the fourth-line center with Austin Watson, Cody McLeod, and occasionally Harry Zolnierczyk.
In his first five seasons with Nashville, Fiddler had 45 goals and 48 assists. After he was drafted, he played for the Milwaukee Admirals and was a member of the 2004 Calder Cup Championship team. This time around, he put up some paltry numbers in 20 games with Nashville: one goal, 37 penalty minutes, and a minus four rating. In 39 games with New Jersey before he was traded, Fiddler also only scored a goal, but he added two assists. On the upside, he won nearly 57% of his faceoffs with the Predators, most of which were in the defensive zone.
It was fantastic to have an “old” face back with the Predators. Fiddler was part of a Predators “Beneath the Ice” episode, and he was clearly excited to head back to Music City and join the Predators on their Cup run. He came back as #83, letting his kids choose his new number because his former #38 is currently worn by Arvidsson.
I was just “ok” with Fiddler, mostly because he could win crucial faceoffs. He added to the center depth that would be tested in the Final. He could hold his own on the ice, and even though he wasn’t as fast as the speedster Zolnierczyk, Vern came through for the Predators. The best part of the goal in the “Best Moment” below is that it was scored using the injured Kevin Fiala’s stick.
David Poile confirmed at a post-season press conference that Fiddler would not be back with the Predators in the 2017-2018 season. With center depth in Frederick Gaudreau, Colton Sissons, and Nick Bonino, it doesn’t look like Fiddler has a place in the Preds’ current lineup. Unfortunately, Fiddler’s second run with the Predators was pretty underwhelming.
Best Moment of the Season
A game winning goal in the playoffs? In his first playoff game for Nashville in nine years? Yeah that’s a nice moment.
Worst Moment of the Season
Fiddler didn't exactly have any huge glaring awful moments. His worst moments might have come when he was watching the game from the press box.
Trending Up or Down?
It’s not evident whether Fiddler will play in the NHL this season. He’s an UFA and could end up on any team that needs depth at center. I’d have to say with his age and declining production, Fiddler is trending down (toward retirement).
Final Grade: C
Vern didn't "wow" us with any epic skills or insane goals. He provided center depth and a veteran presence.
How would you grade Vernon Fiddler's 2017 run with the Predators?
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