Any athlete that has spent extensive time in their sport has experienced the transition from one level to the next. Younger players encounter physically stronger and more savvy athletes at the next level, and making the jump to the next level requires physical and mental adaptability and toughness to be successful. While teams can test for physical endurance or speed, measuring the ability to make a transition to the next level is an inexact science at best . Every team needs a blend of experience and youth, but most rosters are skewed toward the veterans that have shown they can transition and be successful in the NHL game.
As we look at the training camp roster, the Predators are going to have several roster spots that could be claimed by some guys ready to make “the jump”. This is a result of losing some veterans to free agency and a function of how the team philosophically and financially manages their roster. Developing young talent and in the system and retaining it is the “Predator Way” according to owner David Freeman. Well, Operation Predator Way is in full swing. Currently, the second line has a wing position that could be filled by Mike Santorelli, who played seven games for the Preds last season in an emergency call up role but spent the the majority of the year with the Preds AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. Center Colin Wilson is a candidate to grab a roster spot, possibly centering the third line for the Preds. This comes after finishing his second season at Boston University. Nick Spaling and Cal O’Reilly are also in competition for a forward slot after spending the season in Milwaukee as well.
The Preds are also going young (and inexperienced ) on the blue line as well. Weber, Suter, Hamhuis, and Klein are the returning D-corp. Veteran Greg Zanon left for the Minnesota Wild as an unrestricted free agent; and Greg de Vries was not offered a contract. Looking to secure a roster spot will be Alexander Sulzer, who played two games with the Preds last season before going out of the lineup with a separated shoulder; Cody Franson, and Teemu Laakso, both of whom spent the season in Milwaukee last year; and Jonathan Blum, who spent the majority of the season last year with the Vancouver Giants. There is a tremendous amount of unproven talent on the blue line for this team, and Predator fans are eagerly awaiting the shift from unproven to proven.
Can they make the jump? Time will tell, but the success of the Predators season will depend on young players making the transition- successfully- to the NHL level. Especially critical is the the contribution from the forwards, who must chip in with timely scoring and solid two way play. Early indications are that these young guys have the physical tools to make the jump, but as we all know, pre-season is different than the regular season. Handling the grind of the season and the caliber of play at this level will be critical. Predator fans anxiously await how high we can jump.
Filed Under: Nashville Predators
About the Author: A native Nashvillian that grew up with minor league hockey, I'm now a devoted Predators fan and NHL follower. I have had the privilege of allowing my children to grow up watching the Predators and seeing the joy on their face when they are at a game. By day, I am a partner in an independent investment management company in the Nashville area. I played collegiate football and graduated from the University of South Carolina and graduated from the LSU graduate School of Banking. So yes, there are real true southern hockey fans in these non-traditional markets.