Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Final 25 Man Roster Set: Discuss

So here we are, two long days before the Preds open the season up in Ohio somewhere, and per-NHL policy teams have to narrow their final roster to 25.

Plenty of spaces were opened up after the front-office-orchestrated mass exodus of many of our key players in July, but not to be worried. The Preds finished off the preseason with a 7-1 record and quite frankly looked like a team on a mission to prove that they aren't a fluke from last season's second round appearance.

In case you haven't seen yet, the roster consists of 15 forwards, 8 defensemen (it IS Nashville after all), and the two goaltenders.

Forwards: Niclas Bergfors, Martin Erat, Mike Fisher, Blake Geoffrion, Matt Halischuk, Patric Hornqvist, Sergei Kostitsyn, David Legwand, Cal O'Reilly, Craig Smith, Jerred Smithson, Nick Spaling, Zack Stortini, Jordin Tootoo, and Colin Wilson.

In other words, who the hell is gonna score goals? Don't get me wrong, that question isn't code for "we're going to suck this year" but it's a legitimate concern.

We all know that the Preds play tough, smart two-way hockey and there's nothing wrong with that. Last year's Cup champion Bruins can attest to that; but one can't be blamed for wondering if the lack of offensive punch will be the team's ultimate achilles heel for yet another season.

This group of forwards is loaded with young guys who are either looking to continue improving from last season or guys who are looking to break in with the club any way they can.

Craig Smith is getting more than a few looks so far and with good reason. In his first season as a pro after coming out of the University of Wisconsin (shock!) has impressed everyone and made the team easily. I'm assuming. Niclas Bergfors is looking to be the next in the long line of 'young players who kinda sucked' (excuse me, 'didn't reach their potential') elsewhere and improved under the Tutelage of Trotz.

The other corps of young guys like Geoffrion, Wilson, Kostitsyn and so on and so forth are looking to establish themselves as solid players in the league while Legwand, Fisher, and Erat are the veteran offensive threats. If you want to be liberal with the words "offensive threats" that is.

Fisher will be beginning the year on injured reserve with a shoulder injury which is scientifically proven to be taking entirely too long to heal from summer surgery.

Defensemen:  Teemu Laakso, Jonathon Blum, Francis Bouillon, Mattias Ekholm, Jack Hillen, Kevin Klein, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber

Thoughts on Weber and Suter: League's best tandem. Thoughts on the rest: Should remain solid as a whole, which is the Nashville way, but there are a few question marks.

Blum looked very solid for the most part in his play last season after being called up in January and looks to progress further in his first full season.

Mattias Ekholm is going to be fun to watch. At 21, he's 6'4", 204 pounds and has a solid mix of skill and physicality. There were concerns that he would have trouble adapting to the North American game but clearly it didn't hamper him too much as he made the opening night roster.

Klein sucks.

Jack Hillen was added mainly as a depth signing. He came over from the Islanders and is probably best known for once taking an Alex Ovechkin slap shot to the face. I'd normally post that link but it's a tad awkward so you can find it on some site called Youtube if you really wanna see it.

I don't know much about Laakso, although many Pred fans do. So shoot me.

Like Fisher, Bouillon will be starting the season where he ended last season, on IR, with post-concussion syndrome. He did however begin practicing with the team on Monday.

Goaltenders: Pekka Rinne, Anders Lindback

The tallest goalie tandem in NHL history (we think) returns yet again, and Rinne looks to be a beast this season even more so than last. If you would consider playing in a contract year, allowing barely a goal per game in the preseason, and last year's third runner-up in MVP voting to boot, as a beast.

He's awesome.

Lindback is a good guy to have as a backup, but hopefully we won't see a ton of him.

This article has been way too long, and if you've read the whole thing, I must ask you why.

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