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2013-14 Preview: Matt Cullen

Ed. Note: From August 21st through September 16th, we will be providing previews for each player for the 2013-14 season.  Today, we continue with Matt Cullen…

Matt Cullen’s last 3 seasons
Team GP G A PTS P/M PPP TOI
 2010-11 MIN 78 12 27 39 -14 21 18:01
 2011-12 MIN 73 14 21 35 -10 9 18:56
 2012-13 MIN 42 7 20 27 +9 4 15:53

2012-13 in review:
The 36-year-old Matt Cullen scored seven goals and added 20 assists in 42 games for the Minnesota Wild last season. With 27 points, Cullen was on pace for 52 points in a full season, which would have been his best point total ever. His career-high mark of 49 points was achieved twice, both coming with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06 and 2007-08. Last year, the second-line center averaged 15:53 ice time during the regular season and led the team with three points in the playoffs.

The Wild were unable to offer Cullen what he expected on the open market, despite wanting to re-sign the center. Forced to move on, the Minnesota native left the Wild as a free agent in the off-season and signed a deal with the Predators, bringing a lot of experience and leadership to Smashville. In 2006, Cullen won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes.

Cullen signed a two-year, $7 million deal with the Predators and has indicated that he ready to make the jump to first-line center.

Burning question for 2013-14: Cullen or Fisher for top-line duties?
The Nashville Predators will have to make a tough decision come time the puck drops on the 2013-14 regular season: who will center the first line? While Mike Fisher has had that honor the last couple of seasons, Cullen is up for the challenge.

After signing with the Predators, Cullen told The Tennessean that he is ready to take that step up in the lineup. “As a competitor and an athlete, you always look for those situations to do more and make an impact on a game, on a team, and on a season,” Cullen said. “I’ve played a lot of hockey and feel like I have enough experience now where I’m comfortable with whatever is thrown at me, and I’m looking forward to any of those challenges.”

Setting up goals has been Cullen’s strong suit, and with potentially a Colin Wilson or a Viktor Stalberg on his wing, Cullen would have an opportunity to feed the puck to a couple of individuals who are expected to find the back of the net. Also, when comparing the playing styles of Cullen and Fisher, Cullen may be better suited as top-line center, which would leave Fisher for the second line and perhaps a tad more defensive role.

 
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