Sunday, April 20, 2008

What's Next For The Predators

A fourth straight first-round exit and new ownership could bring extreme changes in Music City, USA and could see a different look for the Predators come the beginning of the '08-'09 campaign. The Predators have only faced two teams in their ventures to playoffs, losing to the Red Wings twice in six games and the Sharks twice in five games. There's 12 other teams out there to face, so maybe next year the Preds could beat one of them if they faced them in the playoffs.

First thing is first though, what's going to happen with David Poile and Barry Trotz. Poile seems to be alright in his position, as he has built up this team to a playoff team mixing development and key free agents to make a successful squad. Odds are Trotz's days behind the Nashville bench are over. He has been the only coach in the teams 10 season existence, but it almost seems that it's time for a change, which should probably happen very soon.

After the front office moves are figured out, the Preds NEED to get Dan Ellis under contract. Ellis stole the #1 job from Chris Mason this season and in the playoffs, he faced an average of 40 shots a game and kept the team in the games night-in and night-out. Maybe the Preds could see if they can unload Mason to a team looking for goaltending and go into next season with Ellis and Pekka Rinne.

Up front, J-P Dumont was key for the Preds offense this season, while Jason Arnott continue his consistent scoring ability. The Preds should be worried about Alexander Radulov, not only for hurting his own teammates, but also because his production is not up to the snuff the brass may have wanted. It could be a learning curve, but it seems that much was made of Radulov, but not too much has been delivered. Look for Martin Erat to get an extension after his display this season.

Defensively, the Preds definitely missed the presence of Kimmo Timonen; however it allowed Marek Zidlicky to get back into his groove, gave Ryan Suter a time to shine, and put Shea Weber in a leadership position. Expect big extensions for Suter and Weber quickly, as both are RFAs and will definitely get some offer sheets if July 1st rolls around and they are unprotected.

As a whole, you add Steve Sullivan back into the line-up and a few cogs here and there-- the Preds could actually be a team to be reckoned with. Of course, that seems to be the same rally-cry year after year with Nashville, but that's something you have to keep saying and ultimately it'll come true.

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