The trade deadline is upon us, and the Nashville Predators have already made a small splash in an attempt to upgrade their team ahead of the final stretch of the season. They currently sit in the first wild card spot, five points ahead of the Dallas Stars and eight ahead of the Winnipeg Jets, while tied with the third-place Minnesota Wild. The Western Conference has become a tight race with none of the top teams giving out any favours, making the Predators’ last 20 games of the season a nail-biting experience. All it takes is one bad stretch, a string of three or four losses, and they could find themselves on the outside looking in.
Last week saw Nashville go 2-1-0, defeating the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 and the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-3, but squandering a lead against the Philadelphia Flyers and ultimately losing a close battle 5-4. They managed to pick up four of a possible six points, putting some space between them and the few teams looking to sink their claws into a wild card spot, but the next four games on the week will prove to be a challenge for coach John Hynes’ club. A three-game road trip featuring a back-to-back against the Anaheim Ducks and Los Angeles Kings, followed by a game against the Vegas Golden Knights. They’ll close out the week on Sunday at home against the Flyers.
With the month of March creeping closer to its conclusion and the trade deadline keeping fans of all 32 NHL teams on the edge of their seats, here are some of the big storylines to come out of Nashville from the past week.
Filip Forsberg Becomes Predators All-Time Goal Leader
“There it is!” Those were the words Filip Forsberg and Predators’ fans had been waiting to hear all season, and it finally happened. With his 33rd goal of the season, not only did he tie his career-high set in the 2015-16 season, but he also became the Predators’ most prolific goal scorer in franchise history. His 211th career goal surpassed David Legwand’s 210 goals, and he has another 20 games to add to that total. The current single-season goal lead is 34, set by Viktor Arvidsson during the 2018-19 season, and it’s not hard to believe Forsberg will take that mantle by the end of the campaign.
Both Forsberg and Matt Duchene are experiencing wonderful seasons, reaching the 30-goal plateau at virtually the same time while pushing for a 40-goal finish. As mentioned last week, this would make them the first 40-goal scorers in franchise history, and the idea of having two in one season speaks volumes of their play this year. For Forsberg, he’s been all over the ice in every game, posing as a threat whether the puck is on his stick or not. He’s finding new and unique ways to score goals, be it an end-to-end rush or dangling the puck in a tight space, he gets the job done.
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Should he complete all 20 of the Predators remaining games this year, he’ll enter the franchise’s top 10 for games played, surpassing Ryan Ellis‘ 562 games. He’s also inching closer to several other single-season franchise records, further proving the incredible year he’s currently having and the impact in Nashville since his arrival.
|Even Strength Goals||Game-Winning Goals||Shooting Percentage|
|Viktor Arvidsson – 29 (2018-19)||Filip Forsberg – 9 (2016-17)||Sergei Kostitsyn – 24.7 (2010-11)|
|James Neal – 27 (2015-16)||Filip Forsberg – 8 (2021-22)||Filip Forsberg – 22.3 (2021-22)|
|Filip Forsberg – 27 (2021-22)||Scott Hartnell – 8 (2005-06)||Gabriel Bourque – 22.0 (2011-12)|
|Filip Forsberg – 25 (2016-17)||J.P. Dumont – 8 (2007-08)||Tanner Jeannot – 20.2 (2021-22)|
|Jason Arnott – 24 (2008-09)||Patric Hornqvist – 8 (2009-10)||Matt Duchene – 19.2 (2021-22)|
Roman Josi’s Monstrous Career Year
In last week’s article, Roman Josi’s unbelievable career year was one of the more interesting talking points, and it’s only fitting to feature him again this week. In three games, from March 14-20, he recorded nine assists, two penalty minutes, 13 shots on net, and a plus-6 rating. Paired with his four-point game against the Wild last week, he is the second defenseman in NHL history to score at least three points in four consecutive games, joining Bobby Orr (six games in 1970-71). It’s truly a remarkable pace Josi is currently on, and his performances are also affecting those around him, particularly Forsberg and Duchene, who are enjoying career years themselves.
His most-recent point surge has catapulted him up the standings in points among defensemen this season. Both he and Colorado Avalanche’s Cale Makar have been neck-and-neck all season, with New York Rangers’ Adam Fox not far behind, but Josi’s elevated play has put some space between himself and the pack. His 75 points not only put him atop the leaderboard among all blueliners, but it also lands him ninth league-wide, five points behind fifth-place Auston Matthews. At his current pace, he could end up hitting 100 points, which would earn him bragging rights as the first member of the franchise’s history to accomplish that feat. It’s not likely he’ll keep up a three-point pace as we’ve seen over the last week and a half, but all signs show he isn’t done wreaking havoc on the NHL.
With his 58 assists on the year, Josi has claimed possession as the Predators’ all-time assist leader, surpassing Legwand’s 356 assists in 216 fewer games played. At 31 years old, there are plenty of seasons left in the tank, as he has yet to show any regression in his game in any capacity. It will be interesting to see if he can pass Paul Kariya’s single-season point record of 85, set in the 2005-06 season. He has 20 games left to do so while attempting to capture his second Norris Trophy in the process.
Predators Acquire Jeremy Lauzon From Seattle
Late Sunday night, Pierre LeBrun broke the news of the Predators acquiring defenseman Jérémy Lauzon from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick. While the sellers’ market has been high this year compared to many before it, the return for Lauzon raised many eyebrows, especially considering the fact that Nashville waived Philippe Myers earlier in the week. His advanced statistics don’t look promising, projecting him as a third-pairing defenseman with below-average puck possession metrics. The main factor in many of the issues is that he starts 65.4 percent of his zone time in the defensive end. His 41.6 percent Corsi and 41.9 percent Fenwick are comparable to Mattias Ekholm‘s numbers (44.1 percent and 44.2 percent respectively), who starts 63.7 percent of his zone time in the defensive end.
His contract is dirt cheap at $850,000, he’ll become a restricted free agent at the end of this season, and he’s only 24. He also plays a physical game, sitting with 176 hits in 53 games this season, which places him in third among all Predators, behind just Tanner Jeannot (218) and Luke Kunin (189). He was a player featured in an article this January as one of three Kraken the Predators could target at the trade deadline, the other two being Colin Blackwell and Calle Jarnkrok. He doesn’t take many penalties, which will be a welcomed addition to a club that takes more penalties than any other team. Lauzon brings some playoff experience to the table too, having played in 17 games over three post-season runs with the Boston Bruins, and that kind of experience is valuable. The price may be steep, but if he meshes well with the defensive core, it could pay dividends for David Poile and the Predators.
Cody Glass Gets an “A” in Milwaukee
In American Hockey League (AHL) news, forward Cody Glass received the honour of sporting an A on his jersey on March 19, serving as one of the team’s alternate captains. The 22-year-old centre is having an exceptional season with the Milwaukee Admirals, currently sitting in third on the team in points with 47 and leading all Admirals in assists with 37. Nashville acquired Glass last July in a series of trades that involved both the Philadelphia Flyers and the Vegas Golden Knights. The Predators ended up with Myers and Glass, while Ellis landed in Philadelphia and Nolan Patrick joined Vegas.
The Admirals went 1-2-0 last week, losing to the Chicago Wolves and Rockford IceHogs while defeating the Texas Stars. They currently sit comfortably in third place in the Central Division with 69 points, 13 ahead of the Rockford IceHogs and only two points back of the second-place Manitoba Moose. They’ll play just two games this week, a two-game road series against the Stars on March 25 and 26.
Predators’ Quick Hits And Rumours
- According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Predators and Forsberg have re-engaged in contract negotiations. Poile would prefer to keep his top goal scorer as the team pushes for the playoffs, so it will be interesting to see what happens between now and the 3 PM EST deadline and whether he’s traded or remains with the team.
- According to a recent listing, Predators’ goaltender Pekka Rinne is selling his Nashville home for a whopping $5 million. Interested parties can find his advertisement on the celebrity portal of Realtor. The photos really do the property justice.
- Jeannot joined Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek on the 32 Thoughts Podcast. It’s an excellent listen on how he overcame obstacles with not being drafted at the Western Hockey League and NHL levels.
- Speaking of podcast appearances, Duchene joined The Athletic Hockey Show Podcast to discuss his career year and the Predators’ drive to make noise in the playoffs.
- With the waiving of Myers, he’ll join the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL along with forward Rocco Grimaldi. The two combine for $2.3 million in buried salary this year.
- The Nashville Predators Foundation and SmileDirectClub presented the Bridges Domestic Violence Center with a SuperGrant of $29,840. Bridges Domestic Violence Center serves women, men, and children affected by domestic violence.
- Adam Vingan, who covers the Predators at The Athletic, opened up about his burnout on Twitter and his subsequent leave of absence to work on himself and help his wife and child. On behalf of everyone at The Hockey Writers, I wish Adam and his family nothing but the best.