Over the 2017 NHL offseason, the Nashville Predators lost two key guys in James Neal and Mike Fisher. Neal was selected by the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL expansion draft, and former Predator captain Mike Fisher decided to hang ’em up after 17 NHL seasons. Although both are now gone, will it make that much of a difference?
Neal tallied 23 goals and 18 assists for a total of 41 points in 2017. Fisher had 18 goals and 24 assists for a total of 42 points. Goals may decrease slightly, however, guys like Viktor Arvidsson, Filip Forsberg, and Ryan Johansen may be able to surprise the hockey world and repeat having big seasons.
Someone will need to take over the leadership qualities that former captain Mike Fisher possessed to handle team chemistry on and off the ice. The 2017 Western Conference champions relied heavily on highly skilled defense and goaltending. Guys like P.K. Subban, Matt Carle, Mattias Ekholm, and goaltender Pekka Rinne will need to repeat the tremendous seasons they had last year if this team plans on making it back to the Stanley Cup Finals.
The toughness, resilience, and confidence are clearly all there after sweeping the elite Chicago Blackhawks in the 2017 playoffs and then competing with the highly favored Pittsburgh Penguins in the finals until the series came to an end after 6 games. The fans of “Smashville” have high hopes for this team and don’t want to be disappointed.