Leading up to the lockout-shortened season, we will be providing 2012-13 previews for each player. In no specific order, we continue with Mike Fisher today…
Mike Fisher’s first full season in Nashville got off to a rocky start. He missed the first seven games still recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and suffered a concussion in his third game back. Through December he had 15 points in 30 games. In his final 42 games he racked up 36 points as he jelled with Martin Erat and Sergei Kostitsyn on the top line. He finished with a team-best seven game-winning goals, the most memorable coming on Jan. 31 in Minnesota as the Predators rallied from a 4-1 third-period deficit to win 5-4. In games when Fisher found the back of the net, the team went 16-1-3.
In the latter half of 2011-12, Fisher looked like a No. 1 center at times. But his top line took a back seat to the second line, featuring Alexander Radulov, in the first-round victory over Detroit. Fisher, who did an admirable job containing Pavel Datsyuk in that first round, finished the playoffs with four points and a minus-4 rating.
In August, Fisher signed a two-year, $8.4 million extension with the Predators. He was due to become a free agent this off-season.
Fisher opted to stay in Nashville during the lockout and never publicly pondered going to Europe.
Fisher’s expectations are on the same front as Erat – as long as he stays healthy he will put up his points quota and be reliable. The problem for the Predators is if they expect anything more from Fisher, who is out of place as a top-line center on a Cup-contending team. At 32 years old, one can assume Fisher, with two 50-point campaigns 12-year career under his belt, has reached his ceiling. He certainly won’t hurt the Predators on the top line, but big picture he is better suited as a second-line center on this team.