Trotz thinks current Preds roster can get it done

Monday, August 4, 2008 at 2:06am
Jason Arnott will have to have another career year for the Preds. File

While Central Division foes like Columbus and Chicago have loaded up their rosters with free agents, Nashville Predators coach Barry Trotz is going to camp with the expectation of few, if any, new faces being added to the roster that finished last season in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

“Everyone around us that didn’t make the playoffs like Columbus, Chicago and Edmonton made significant moves,” Trotz said. “It is going to be a real challenge for us.

“We don’t have any excuses. We have spent our money on the players we believe in like David Legwand, Martin Erat, Ryan Suter and Shea Weber. Other teams went out and bolstered their teams by going outside their organizations. We have a great core of young guys that we wanted to take of so our free agency came from within our organization.”

Trotz points out that despite not making any major new additions to the roster, the Predators forged an identity last season that should carry over into the 2008-2009 season. With all of the new faces, that is something that teams like Columbus and Chicago will be struggling to find.

“Our identity is pretty solid for the most part,” said Trotz. “The foundation was sort of laid last year after a little bit of a slow start. And we are going to have to build on that identity.

“A lot of these teams like Columbus are going to have to go to a process to find a new themselves and forge a new identity. We should have our identity going into training camp. That should be one of our advantages.”

Last season’s team overcame a number of obstacles to make the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fourth year in a row. That resilience will be a big key to this year’s team.

“The growth of our team is going to come from within,” said Trotz. “We will have to raise our level of performance. I expect our young defensemen to continue to grow. I expect Legwand and Erat to hit their stride on offense with their production levels rising. And we have some good young guys we feel strong about like Patric Hornqvist, Antti Pilhstrom and Ryan Jones.”

Trotz stresses the Predators will not sit on the sidelines in training camp if there appears to be a glaring need for another scorer. The Predators are looking at a couple of possibilities at this stage of the offseason with rumors circulating about an interest in Mark Parrish from the Minnesota Wild.

“I feel pretty confident Hornqvist will be able to contribute in the NHL,” Trotz said. “There will be a period of adjustment from European hockey to North America. But I think he has a lot of the right tools and right mentality to be successful.

“The wild card is Jones. He played at the college level, which is a good level, but it is not the Swedish Elite League or the Finnish Elite League. But physically and mentally he seems like a real strong candidate to make the jump.”

Like David Poile, president of hockey operations/general manager for the Predators, Trotz is concerned about what might happen if forward Alexander Radulov does not return from Russia to honor the last year his contract. Forward Steve Sullivan is also in an uncertain situation due to his back injury.

“We thought we would be challenged offensively last year, but we got it done with good production from our defensemen and almost career years from forwards Jason Arnott and J.P. Dumont,” Trotz said. “Arnott and Dumont are going to have to duplicate what they did last year. And players like Vernon Fiddler are going to have to have the same type of year if not better.

“We don’t know where the Radulov situation is going to end up. Sully is still trying to come back. We are going a little bit into the unknown with the younger players likes Hornqvist, Pihlstrom and Jones. Our scouts have a good eye for identifying players and we find a way for those players to be fairly productive. We will find a way to get it done.”

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By: Predbear on 12/31/69 at 7:00

Trotz can't be serious about actually thinking that Rads or Sully is going to be back this season, can he? To go into the season with two unknowns like Hornqvist and Jones to play on the top two lines is taking an unnecessary risk. Bring Parrish into the mix and we'll have a much better balance heading into the season.