Last season – 7th in the Western Conference
GM – David Poile
I don’t think David Poile traded away Shea Weber to Montreal for PK Subban because Weber almost blinded him a few years ago, but one thing is for sure, it takes an incredible amount of guts to trade away the player that has been synonymous with Smashville since his arrival. Nashville had a disappointing year last year, but the team Poile has built is solid. With PK Subban, he has a new face of the franchise. Poile’s position in Nashville is solid, nobody will talk of him being on the hot-seat unless something really drastic happens. He made some solid deals this summer, most noticeably a very good contract with Filip Forsberg.
Head Coach – Peter Laviolette
Laviolette just got the perfect defenseman for the way he wishes to play. He’s done a decent job since taking over from Barry Trotz, and Nashville plays a nice brand of hockey. The only question is if it’s a winning kind of hockey. I don’t think Laviolette needs to fear for his job should they not make it deep into the play-offs, but there will be questions raised should he not get there with this team.
P.K. Subban (D), Matt Carle (D), Yannick Weber (D),
3rd round pick 2016
Shea Weber (D), Barret Jackman (bought out, retired, D), Eric Nystrom (bought out, LW),
Jimmy Vesey (UFA rights), Carter Hutton (G)
The absolute biggest offseason move by far was trading for P.K. Subban, or trading away Shea Weber. It depends what side you are on. I think this is a win-win trade for both sides. Nashville got plenty of defensive reliable d-men and wanted more offensive contributions on the blueline. Plain and simple. Outside that, re-signing Forsberg and Jarnkrok to great deals were the main focus point of the offseason for David Poile, and he did it. Trading the right for Vesey away were also great move, as he didn’t sign with the team they traded him to.
Goaltending – 8/10
Usually this would be an easy 9, but Pekka Rinne has not been his old self the last few years. At the same time, his steady back-up Carter Hutton has gone to division rival St. Louis Blues in the off-season as UFA. This is not to suggest Pekka Rinne is suddenly a bad goalie, but he is showing definite signs of declining and will need to prove he is still the elite goaltender he was a few years back.
Defense – 10/10
It’s strange to give a defense that over the last year lost both Shea Weber and Seth Jones a perfect rating, but the top two pairings are tremendously good. The pairing of Josi and Subban will be tremendously fun to watch, whereas Ekholm and Ellis are extremely gifted. Nashville’s defense will be entertaining, and it will be solid. Even with the flash that Subban provides, the others will provide a solid defensive foundation that will bode the team well.
Josi – Subban
Ekholm – Ellis
Bitetto – Y. Weber
Forwards – 8/10
This is one of those ratings that’s hard to give. It basicially comes down to the wingers just not being good enough to compensate for the lack of elite centers. Some will argue Ryan Johansen is an elite centerman, but he still has a lot to prove. If he proves it this year, then this time in 2017 the rating will go up to an easy 9. There’s a good mixture of strong and decently skilled, most noticeably with a player like James Neal. You also have Filip Forsberg, who gets better every year. One of the better deals done by Poile during his time in Nashville.
Forsberg – R. Johansen – C. Smith
C. Wilson – Fisher – Neal
Jarnkrok – Ribeiro – Arvidsson
Watson – Sissons – Salomaki
Team Composition – 9/10
Solid goaltender, great defense and very good forwards. This team is poised to make another run to the play-offs, which has been the usual fare in Nashville the last few years.
Leadership presence – 8/10
As much as I like PK Subban, but there is no doubt the leadership in Nashville has suffered as a result of Shea Weber leaving the franchise. There really aren’t any proven winners in the lockerroom, which will hurt when it comes to play-off time.
Skill Value – 8/10
The team is well-skilled, but not more than that. It doesn’t really edge out other teams in the division in this sense, but is on par with Minnesota Wild. As noted earlier, I see this team going to the play-offs, but I’m not sure this is the year where they will make a really deep run. They still need a few pieces on offense in order to be a proper contender. Still, it’s a solid team that will not be easy to beat for anyone.