After a flurry of great posts from Jeremy, Ryan, Seth, and James regarding potential packages to acquire Bobby Ryan, Dirk opened the morning continuing a great question raised by Willy Daunic last night on 102.5 The Game. The question is whether the Predators should pursue a star quality forward at all.
Now, I’ve written several pieces over the years addressing that issue, so it should come as no surprise that I think the Predators do need that forward that can take over the game up front- particularly come playoff time.
That said, there’s always more than one way to skin a cat and the Bruins won the Cup last season without having a star forward (beating a team that beat Nashville with a dominant performance from a forward in Kesler).
While that Bruins team was similar to Nashville, they didn’t depend as much on their top defensive pairing as the Predators did then, and do now.
During the regular season last year, Boston’s top defensive pairing (points-wise) was Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk with 16 points. Adam McQuaid and Andrew Ference added 12. Steven Kampfer and Chara had 11. Ference and Chara had 10. Dennis Seidenberg and Kampfer added 9, and it goes on and on.
Nashville was vastly different in comparison. Shea Weber and Ryan Suter produced 78 points when on the ice together. The next best pairing was Shane O’Brien and Cody Franson with 12. Jonathon Blum and Kevin Klein produced 11 as did Franson with Francis Bouillon. Nashville is a team produces offense through their defense and the only pairing that puts points on the board consistently is Weber and Suter. (As a side note, think about what life would be like now if one of those two left.)
This season is no better. To this point, Weber and Suter have contributed 32 points and no other combination has produced more than 3 points.
Trotz commented a couple of weeks ago (when Wilson, Smith and Hornqvist were paired together) that he tended to put Weber/Suter out with the Smith line on the road and with the Fisher line at home. If you look that the performance of those lines, you quickly notice that their effectiveness depends greatly on having Weber and Suter at their back.
Back to Dirk’s analysis of the Predators’ needs, he’s spot on that this team needs a better second pairing- not just defensively, but it’s extremely important to this team’s ability to produce offensively too. That said, if there’s one area I trust Poile, Trotz, and their staff the most is their ability to reload that defense with talent. There’s no doubt that there will be a significant increase offensively if one (or two) of Blum, Josi or Ellis can stabilize that second pairing.
It’s also why I ultimately believe the Predators should pursue a star forward when the fit is right (both culturally and financially) to help the offense when that top pairing isn’t on the ice and when a forward just needs to take over a game. Bobby Ryan is a pretty good fit in both categories, even if it costs the Predators one of their 7 “top six” forwards.
Stats were pulled from the great fantasy hockey site: DobberHockey.
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About the Author: Nashville Predators Blogger, Software Engineer (C#.NET), Novice Woodworker, Southern Cook, Husband, Father of Two. You may contact me at David.R.Singleton AT gmail.com.