The first three roster cuts are complete and the remaining Nashville Predators prospects are entering the most important weekend of their careers. Nashville plays three games in as many nights and the trio of contests will offer the final chance for most prospects to earn roster spots. Here is the first of two reports that will provide updates on all the notable prospects who have participated in the Predators rookie camp and NHL training camp …
David Legwand (8.5)
Believe it or not, David Legwand is already at a crossroads in his career. After a quiet season in the OHL, Nashville expects Legwand to show the intangibles that he focused on at the expense of his offensive production last year. According to Legwand, his statistics suffered last season because he focused on improving his defense, physical play and faceoff ability. As a continuation of that effort, Legwand spent much of the off-season working with a strength and conditioning coach in Nashville, after the organization made it clear that he needs to add muscle and get stronger.
Legwand will definitely make the Nashville roster this season and will likely play on a checking line to start the year. That would give him an opportunity to prove that his work on the intangibles has been worthwhile. It would also allow him to start his NHL career gradually, much like Joe Thornton and Vincent Lecavalier did with their respective teams. A conservative approach is probably best for Legwand, who is not yet ready to be a star player.
The organizers of this tournament had to be unhappy after the first night
of action. A bench clearing brawl initiated by Ty Jones gave the tournament
a black eye and had to hope for better results during Tuesday night’s games.
Unfortuantly, it went from fight night to blowouts. The Detroit Red Wings
and Chicago Blackhawks were blown right out of the Grand Traverse Bay area
and ended up somewhere across Lake Michigan. Or at least it seemed that
way. If you liked watching teams self-destruct, this was your night.
GAME 3 – Detroit VS. Nashville
On paper, this game looks even. Both teams have a marquee prospect in
Brian Finley and Jiri Fischer. Each lack much depth at forward. But on the
ice it was a much a different story. While the Wings didnt play awful, the
defense rested in stretches. The Predators took the lead 10 seconds into
the game and never looked back, beating the Red Wings 6-3.
The Predators scored three goals in the first and again in the second
period and that was more than enough. The Predators had no real star on
this night but they did have a solid defensive game. Ed Hill, Brett Angel,
and Kent Sauer all had strong defensive efforts. Sauer also added two
assists. Martin Bartek added a goal and an assist leading the offense.
Konstantin Panov also had a strong night, scoring a goal and having several Read more»
GAME 1 – Detroit VS. Chicago
The rivalry between these two teams was renewed on Monday night. The game
ended up with 32 penalties and numerous brawls. Even with all the penalties,
the game still ended up deadlocked at a 3-3 tie. Jack McCracken steered away
33 shots while Jonathan Pelletier stopped 30. Chicago held a 3-1 lead in the
third only to see the lead go away when Brent Hobday scored and just over a
minute later, Anton Borodkin tied it. Detroit prospect Ryan Barnes got
plenty of shots in the form of physical play but also added an assist on the
scoresheet. Yuri Butsayev and Borodkin had a goal and an assist playing on
a line together for Detroit. Highly touted prospect Jiri Fischer played a
decent game and ended up a +1 for the night. Ryan Gaucher also played solid
for the Wings.
Chicago’s Mark Bell lived up to his billing by notching a goal in the
first. Rob Mara, coming back from injuries, had a strong game, with good
overall play and adding two assists. Kyle Calder also had an impressive
night as he notched a goal and an assist. As expected, Ty Jones also played
a physical game joining Barnes. Next up for Detroit will be Nashville,
while Chicago will take on St. Louis.
Det - Butsayev, 1 (Borodkin,Barnes) 9:00
Chi - Bell, 1 (Couture,Mara) 15:00
Chi - Griffin, 1 (Calder,Mara) 10:27
3rd Period- Read more»
After winning its arbitration case with Denny Lambert earlier this month, Nashville opted to avoid any morale problems with the veteran forward by trading him to the Atlanta Thrashers for 23 year-old prospect Randy Robitaille. Lambert sought a one-year deal worth $700,000, but was awarded only $465,000 by an arbitrator. The disparity between Lambert’s asking price and the final value of the contract was a definite factor in general manager Dave Poile’s decision to make the trade. But the deal was also an effort to address Nashville’s need for scoring.
Robitaille has proven that he can score at the professional level, compiling 43 goals and 103 assists during the past two seasons with Providence of the American Hockey League. He was originally signed as a free agent by the Boston Bruins in the spring of 1997, after completing his sophomore year at Miami University in Ohio. Robitaille earned CCHA All-Rookie honors during his freshman year, when he posted 14 goals, 31 assists and 45 points in 36 games. As a sophomore, he increased his output to 27 goals, 34 assists and 61 points in 39 games. His performance earned him CCHA All-Star first team honors and selection to the NCAA All-American West first team.
The Nashville Predators have a nice dilemma as training camp approaches — oo many defensemen battling for too few roster spots.
The Preds were unsuccessful in their efforts to bring Lance Pitlick to Nashville but it will hardly have a major effect on them. While they are still considering going after another free agent defenseman, the Predators have the luxury of having a system of defensemen waiting in the wings. Smart trades by General Manager David Poile and good drafts allowed Nashville to immediately become deep at defense. The Preds think enough of their young defensemen to allow veterans John Slaney, Jamie Heward and Rob Zettler to all move on.
The Preds should have one space open or perhaps two for the baby Preds. Six players are expected to challenge for the spot. Here’s a snapshot at each player and their odds of making the team:
Craig Millar- He’s technically not a prospect but he might as well be. He had problems staying up with Edmonton and the deep Nashville system wont make it any easier for him this time around. The Preds like his solid style of play and love his size. Still young and developing and has the best chance to join Kimmo Timonen as the young guns of the Preds defense corps. The seventh defenseman spot is his to lose.