The Hockey Writers Nashville Predators staff writer Colin Fitts will evaluate the performance of each player on the 2014-15 Predators roster every weekday in alphabetical order. You can follow Colin on Twitter, @FittsTHW.
Height/Weight: 6-foot-1, 200lbs
Stat Line: 62 GP, 7 G, 18 A, 25 PTS, +8 +/-, 16 PIM, 10 hits, 18 blocked shots, 54% face-offs, 13:00 AVG TOI
Playoffs Stat Line: 6 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 PTS, -1 +/-, 4 PIM, 6 hits, 12 blocked shots, 54.4% face-offs, 17:19 AVG TOI
*Points at Home vs Away: Home – 4 G, 10 A | Away – 3 G, 9 A
*Giveaway/Takeaway Correlation: 23 giveaways, 25 takeaways
Contract Status: Unrestricted free agent ($4 million cap hit in 2014-15)
Highlight of the Year: Matt Cullen was hot to begin the season totaling 7 points (3 g, 4 a) in his first 12 games. Of the 7 goals Cullen scored this season, none were bigger than the game-winner against the Dallas Stars on November 6. Cullen somehow scored short-side on Stars’ goaltender Kari Lehtonen to defeat Nashville’s Central Division rival on the road.
Strengths: Cullen is a reliable face-off man winning just over half of the face-offs he takes. He is also a go-to player in the shootouts. Last season, he went 1-for-4 but is 24-for-60 (40%) all-time. He is a useful third liner at the right price.
Weaknesses: By November 2 of the next season, Cullen will be 39. Unfortunately, he is not the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr is, and it is evident in his game. Cullen is not as quick as he once was and had a considerable dip in scoring last season. Age catches up, and it has caught up to Cullen.
What to Expect Next Season: It is almost a certainty the Predators and Cullen will part ways next season. Cullen told his hometown newspaper “he wanted to be close to home [next season].” As a native of Virginia, Minnesota, it makes sense for Cullen to seek a return to the Minnesota Wild, where he played from 2010-13.
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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.