Ed. Note: From August 21 through September 16th, we will be providing previews for each player for the 2013-14 season. In no specific order, today we continue with Rich Clune…
|Rich Clune’s last 3 seasons|
2012-13 in review:
Little was known about Rich Clune in Nashville before he was claimed off waivers by the Predators just before the start of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. The acquisition seemed like an unnecessary move at the time because the Predators already had Brian McGrattan and not much was expected from Clune. However, 2012-13 turned out to be a life-changing year for Clune.
Clune played in 47 of 48 games for the Predators and was one of the few bright spots. He racked up four goals and five assists while accruing 113 penalty minutes and becoming an established physical threat. Clune was able to bring an effective physical presence without taking himself out of position and sacrificing his two-way game.
After a successful season in Nashville, Clune was rewarded with a two-year contract extension that will keep him in Music City through the 2015-16 season. His overall game and popularity with the fan base was a pleasant surprise to the Predators in 2012-13.
Burning question for 2013-14: How will Clune fit into newly restructured team?
The identity of the Predators team that will take the ice for the 2013-14 season will be much different than the one that took the ice last season. Nashville was aggressive in free agency and acquired some more grit in Eric Nystrom and Matt Hendricks to go along with Clune.
As the roster is currently constructed, the Predators have at least 15 NHL caliber forwards capable of playing. At least. Only 12 can play on any given night, so the Predators are going to have to make some decisions. What will Clune’s role be on a team that in the span of one off-season has gone from a team with little to no depth to a team with a whole lot of depth at the forward position?
Given the fact the Predators just signed Clune to a two-year, one-way contract extension that takes effect after the 2013-14 season, the Predators are going to want him to play. He’s a valuable hockey player that can help them on the ice as well as in the locker room. However, Clune’s role that he played last season is somewhat going to be less significant due to the fact that Hendricks and Nystrom are going to be in the lineup. Clune will see a lot of game action in 2013-14, but there will most likely be times where he finds himself scratched simply because of a numbers game. The Predators have a lot of forwards this year and are going to need offense.
The fact of the matter is Clune is the type of guy that players love to have on their team. He’s a great guy in the locker room, and he proved last year that he can make an impact offensively, defensively and through his physicality. It’s going to be tougher for him to stay in the lineup consistently, but he should still have around 10-15 points and well over 100 penalty minutes again this season.