Just when you thought the Nashville Predators were back on track having won four games in-a-row entering the 2016 NHL All-Star Break, they returned from break looking like same frustrating team the Predators have been for much of this season.
Nashville has lost two straight with a 1-0 defeat to the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday and a 6-3 obliteration by the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday.
The Predators currently sit in the final wild-card spot — for now — and rank fifth in the Central Division with a 24-20-8 record (56 points).
A reason for Nashville’s struggles this season is a lack of scoring from their forwards. The Predators’ defensemen rank first in the league in scoring as unit with 128 points (37 goals, 91 assists), but the offense has been nothing more than mediocre this season.
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) February 5, 2016
Adding Ryan Johansen to play on the first line has certainly helped, but head coach Peter Laviolette has struggled finding a left-winger to play alongside Johansen and James Neal. Five players — Kevin Fiala, Mike Fisher, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok and Mike Ribeiro — have been experimented with on that line, but neither have amounted the results Laviolette has wanted.
If no one can on the current roster can fill the first-line left wing spot, the Predators will have to look elsewhere to fill the void.
A player rumored to be “available” is Boston Bruins left winger Loui Eriksson, who has 39 points (15 goals, 24 assists) in 51 games this season.
Eriksson and the Bruins are in the midst of negotiations for a contract extension, but if an agreement is not reached soon, he could be dealt before the trade deadline. Eriksson is on the final year of his contract and has a cap hit of $4.25 million.
Eriksson would be a great fit for the Predators. The 30-year-old Swede is a viable top-six, two-way forward with a knack for scoring goals. He is also already familiar with Neal and Ribeiro from their time with the Dallas Stars.
If general manager David Poile is looking for the complete package in a player, he will not have to look any further than Eriksson.
Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer and is a credentialed media member of the Chicago Wolves. From Nashville, Tennessee, Colin majors in journalism and public relations at Columbia College Chicago. Follow him on Twitter, @FittsTHW. Email: 22fitts [at] gmail [dot] com.