Victor Bartley Season Preview: In the Mix
He's got his work cut out for him if he wants to stay out of the press box, but he'll at least a shot to prove he belongs.
Let's not kid ourselves, there isn't a whole lot to preview about Victor Bartley.
He spent last year as a rotating seventh defenseman, and could very possibly see the same thing this year. However, there is a caveat that I mentioned in his season review:
With [Ryan] Ellis, [Michael ]Del Zotto and [Mattias] Ekholm all RFAs right now, Bartley's future has a bit of a question mark to it. If all three players are retained, he could continue to bounce around the lineup, sometimes being the seventh defenseman. However, if one or more are traded or not re-signed, he could see a more permanent roll in the bottom three.
Well, well, well. Ekholm inked a two-year extension in July, the Predators declined to qualify Del Zotto (who recently signed with Philadelphia) and Ellis' contract is still infamously up in the air. Everything's coming up Bartley!
If Ellis isn't in the mix to start the season, (and right now that's a distinct possibility) both Ekholm and Bartley will find themselves slotted into the bottom two defensive pairings. Whenever Ellis comes back, the two will once again vie for that last spot. The edge should go to Ekholm, as Barley was the worst defender on the team in terms of CF% last year at a measly 44.5%. In fact, he was so low that only Paul Gaustad and Matt Hendricks were worse. Ouch.
This season is a new one, though. Bartley still has time to develop, and it's possible he could quietly cement his status on the bottom pairing. Of course, that's going to get tough when the log jam at defense kicks in.
Best Case Scenario
Bartley takes incredible strides in become a solid defensive defenseman, breaks even in the possession game and even chips in with a goal or two. *Confetti*
Worst Case Scenario
He becomes a liability every time he's out on the ice, causing the team to put him through waivers and bury him in the minors.
Victor is a honey bee. A diligent worker that goes about his business the best he knows how. The league has hundreds and hundreds of his kind, and they're generally ignored despite being everywhere and performing important functions.