The Nashville Predators have not been as dominant this season as they were to start the 2014-15 season — due in part to injury — but the team is once again in the thick of what is a very competitive Central Division race.
One encouraging sign is the success of the club’s two minor league affiliates. Both the AHL‘s Milwaukee Admirals and the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL have had to shuffle their lineups at times but no matter who is in the lineup those players seem to be contributing.
Entering the 2010 NHL Draft the Nashville Predators were coming off a successful regular season followed by yet another disappointing first round series loss in the playoffs.
Nashville finished third in the Central Division in 2009-10, reaching 100 points for the third time in five seasons, but lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago in six games in the first round. This marked the fifth straight time Nashville lost in the first round and the Predators would not win their first playoff series until the 2010-11 season.
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 have one of the youngest lineups in the American Hockey League — with nine first-year pros and 15 players 23 years of age or younger, including both goaltenders. Three of those rookies are among the scoring leaders for the Admirals while both goalies have been impressive at times.