GDHQNHL15_2pg-Nashville Predators 1

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Nashville PREDATORS WESTERN CONFERENCE Offense After missing the postseason for the second time in a row, the Nashville Predators made a change by getting rid of longtime coach Barry Trotz and replacing him with Peter Laviolette. Laviolette brings a change in coaching philosophy that will surely allow for more offense and creativity on the ice, a departure from the defensive system Trotz employed. To help add offensive punch, General Manager David Poile brought in a slew of talent. The headliner of this group is former Pittsburgh Penguin James Neal. The sniper has shown the scoring ability that the Predators crave as he totaled 27 goals and 61 points last year. The concern is that he achieved those numbers by playing with All-World players Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, Now that he is the guy, can he make the plays on his own? Mike Ribeiro, Neal’s potential center who was also brought in this off-season, is also expected to produce in an offensive capacity. Coming off of a down year, the 34-year old center still accumulated 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists) for a Phoenix Coyotes team not known for their offensive prowess. Ribeiro’s playmaking ability is a big reason he was signed, as well as his prior playing experience with Neal. The Predators didn’t stop there with their offseason spending spree. They also brought in low-risk players Olli Jokinen and Derek Roy to further improve the team’s offensive standing. Jokinen bounced back last season after a disappointing 2012-13 campaign as he registered 43 points (18 goals, 25 assists) to show that there is still some hockey left to play in the 35-year-old. Derek Roy will also be counted upon to provide some scoring depth in the lineup. The former Buffalo Sabre has bounced around the league over the last few years, while he scored 37 points last year (9 goals, 28 assists) for the St. Louis Blues, a return to his Sabre playing days would be a huge lift for the Predators. Defense Any team that has a Norris Trophy candidate on their blue line automatically has a leg up on the opposition. But, with the change in coaching philosophy, will the defensive end suffer? Shea Weber will make sure that there is an easy transition for coach Laviolette. The All- CENTRAL DIVISION Shea Weber Key Additions: Derek Roy, Mike Ribeiro, Anton Volchenkov, Olli Jokinen, James Neal Key Losses: Michael Del Zotto, Patrick Eaves, Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Joonas Rask Strengths: Improved depth and scoring punch among the forwards. Weaknesses: Questions with chemistry after multiple off-season additions. Special teams must improve.  John Russell/NHL/Getty Images


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