5 Difficult Inquiries: Early August Edition
OTF is made up of some very smart people with very different backgrounds, but we all have questions. Luckily, we're able to convince the staff to answer some.
There is still a ton of time to kill before training camp, and still a myriad of questions rattling around in our brains. Some of the staff took aim at a few difficult questions that have been pestering us most of the summer.
Who do you see as the Predators' assist leader next year?
Jon: If Mike Ribeiro is playing up to his skill level and sees significant time on the power play, he could be up there. Still, I have to go with the obvious answer in Shea Weber.
Jeremy: I think Roy or Ribeiro will lead in assists. Ribeiro with the slight edge dishing to Smith and Neal.
Dan: Mike Ribeiro is the easy choice, but I'm going with Roman Josi. He might collect enough secondary assists to make him a Norris candidate.
What is the future of Ryan Ellis? Is it in Nashville?
Jon: Assuming a deal gets done, he has a role on this team for the season. It seems pretty much a given that he'll be traded at some point, but that may depend on where the team is at the deadline. If they are in the hunt, he might be moved for player to help them down the stretch. If not, the Predators could get a bunch of players to help them down the road with a name that rhymes with Joman Rosi.
Jeremy: Ellis, if not already, should be dangled for a trade once the Predators sign him for a modest two year contract. With Jones and Volchenkov (sp) ahead of him and Diaby making strides to hopefully crack the lineup sometime this season, Ellis is the odd man out.
Dan: Maybe for a year, but if he's not moving now I can see him being moved at the deadline. His value will go up near the playoffs. In the past, teams have paid a high price for guys like him at the deadline.
Who is more likely to be traded; Gabriel Bourque or Colin Wilson, or someone else?
Jon: Neither. If Gabriel Bourque doesn't fit on the team anymore then he hits the waiver wire. Better to pick him up for free. I can't see anyone wanting to trade for Wilson, even with his apparent potential. He finishes the year as a Predator, and another team will sign him to a cheap deal should this season not pan out.
Jeremy: Bourque provides a scoring presence in the bottom of the lineup. Wilson has this year to prove something (even though he should have proven his worth over the last five years) or he could be shipped off for picks more than likely.
Dan: Not saying that Bourque is bad and needs to be moved, but if David Poile wants to hold onto Wilson, Bourque could be the odd man out in a package to clean up the roster.
With Patric Hornqvist gone, who would you like to see Nashville award the "A" to?
Jon: As much as I love Smith, he still needs another year to mature. Olli Jokinen has worn the "A" in both Florida and Winnipeg, and could be a good candidate to help the younger guys, even if it's only for a year.
Jeremy: Craig Smith for sure. He has the intensity and heart in his play matched only by the player that left in Hornqvist.
Dan: Craig Smith. I'm a big believer in empowering the young guys with the right attitude.
Barring any trades, who would you like to see on the power play next year?
Jon: Neal, Ribeiro, Smith, Weber, Jones as the first unit. Wilson, Jokinen, Cullen, Josi, Ellis second unit.
Jeremy: Keep the chemistry of the assumed top line in Neal/Ribeiro/Smith and the second unit could be interesting with Wilson/Roy/Jokinen until Jarnkrok gets a little more comfortable.
Dan: This is the one area I know will be a vast improvement. I'd roll Smith/Ribeiro/Neal, and Wilson/Roy/Jarnkrok, assuming Prince Filip is still paying his dues in Milwaukee.
Bonus Question: Which NHL team addressed their needs the best during Free Agency?
Jon: Dallas got a whole lot better. They acquired a top level center in Jason Spezza to bolster their already impressive forward corps, then signed Ales Hemsky, who played great with Spezza. They might be the most improved team in the Central division, though they still need a stud defenseman. Predators fans are going to boo Patrick Eaves so hard.
Jeremy: The Islanders might be scary if they can pull together some decent defensive effort with what they have. The signings of Grabovski, Kulemin and Halak make them very dangerous with a great young core of Okposo, Tavares and Brock Nelson. Look for them to be a sleeper to make the playoffs and maybe a spoiler for another team in round one.
Dan: Tampa Bay. That's a roster that had plenty of youth, but around guys like Stralman, Callahan, and Boyle they'll be a tough out. Plus, they didn't crowd their lineup so guys like Jonathan Drouin are not stuck in the system. If Ben Bishop stays healthy, that's a team that's built to win in the playoffs.
Feel free to have a shot at these yourself in our comments section, and if you have a pressing query that you feel warrants addressing, let us know. If it's good, we might answer it next time, so bring your best.