The 2014-15 season saw a shift in focus in the Predators’ organization from the Smashville philosophy of the early years to a more wide open skating style. Partly due to necessity, Nashville featured bigger, hard-hitting players playing tight defense and making things difficult on opposition players during its early years. That changed this season as new coach Peter Laviolette emphasized a north-south skating game that fit the talents of scorers like rookie Filip Forsberg and veteran Mike Ribeiro, who had a resurgence in his first year with the Predators.
Filip Forsberg’s Calder Trophy-caliber campaign has pushed Nashville to the top of the NHL standings, making his the most notable graduation of the season. Add to that the trade that sent Brendan Leipsic to the Leafs, Patrick Cehlin’s return to Sweden, and solid pro seasons for Calle Jarnkrok and Taylor Beck, and the result is a shake-up in Nashville’s Top 20.
The Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predators‘ AHL affiliate, have one of the league’s youngest rosters, including four players who age-wise could have spent an overage season in junior hockey. With so many Predators prospects playing for the Admirals — and several others either in Europe or playing college hockey — Nashville has just three prospects playing major junior hockey this season.
The Nashville Predators figured to make changes once long-time coach Barry Trotz was replaced and Peter Laviolette was hired. If the addition of veterans like James Neal, Mike Ribeiro, Olli Jokinen and Derek Roy has changed things in the current lineup, the impact that some of the prospects in the pipeline will have could make things really interesting.