The Nashville Predators made its final cut to the roster in lead up to Thursday’s season opener against the Carolina Hurricanes. Forward Jamie Devane, who played in just one preseason game for the Predators, cleared waivers Tuesday. Nashville was at 24 players before waiving Devane and had to be under 23 prior to the NHL’s roster deadline Tuesday at 4 p.m. CDT.
Among the 34 players cut, none were more shocking than Kevin Fiala and Steve Moses’ reassignments to the Predators’ AHL-affiliate the Milwaukee Admirals.
Fiala, 19, proclaimed to general manager David Poile in May that he would make the team and was willing to work for a spot. Fiala moved to Nashville the following month to begin training with the team’s strength and conditioning coach David Good.
“Everybody has goals, and my goal is to make the team this year,” Fiala said in July.
Unfortunately for Fiala, it did not work out that way. However, it is not necessarily a bad thing for Fiala to return to Milwaukee, where he can further develop his game. The Predators are electing to be patient with Fiala, as the club did with Filip Forsberg, so he can adapt to the North American game and, hopefully, blossom into a lethal scoring weapon.
“It’s really a similar path that Forsberg took,” Laviolette told NashvillePredators.com. “[Fiala’s] path should be pretty close to [Forsberg’s] and that’s a good path. Filip developed, he learned a lot when he got here and he was ready to make a difference. I think the biggest thing for Kevin right now is that he just plays games and really starts to learn the North American game.”
Some may have expected Fiala to not make the tam, but no one thought Moses would be cut. Nashville signed the current Kontinental Hockey League single-season goal-scoring record holder to a one-year, one-way contract in April, and given that Moses is on a one-way, meaning he will get paid equally at the NHL and AHL levels, it was almost assured that he was going to make the team. There were two big concerns surrounding Moses entering training camp — could Moses’ game translate well from the KHL to the NHL, and will his size be a significant factor? Both proved to be enough of a problem that the Predators had to send Moses to Milwaukee so he can fix his game.
The lack of size of Steve Moses was evident last night. He was pushed around all night long. Mattias Ekholm is still a very underrated guy
— Robby Stanley (@RStanley247) September 30, 2015
In four preseason games, Moses tallied just one assist and a minus-four rating.
“He’s still a player that we’re counting on to be somebody who can produce for us, but I think that there’s a learning curve in coming back [to North America],” Laviolette told NashvillePredators.com of Moses. “The best way to get to that is probably to get to Milwaukee and try to figure that out. Being the extra guy or an extra guy here, I don’t think is going to help, so going there and playing some games is probably the quickest way to try and make it back here.”
Forwards Viktor Arvidsson and Austin Watson and defenseman Anthony Bitetto highlight the list that survived the cuts. Arvidsson, a left-winger who has played in just six career NHL games, impressed enough to not only make the team but to also be slotted in the lineup. Watson, a center and left-winger who has not played in an NHL game since 2012-13, is an extra for now. Keeping Bitetto on the roster is surprising because there is seemingly no need for the Predators to have him as the eighth defenseman watching games from the press box when he could log ice time in Milwaukee.
In the last few practices, the lines have looked like this:
Forsberg – Mike Ribeiro – James Neal
Colin Wilson – Fisher – Smith
Arvidsson – Cody Hodgson – Calle Jarnkrok
Eric Nystrom – Paul Gaustad – Gabriel Bourque
Extra: Austin Watson
Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis
Barret Jackman – Seth Jones
Extras: Victor Bartley and Bitetto