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2013-14 Preview: Nick Spaling

Ed. Note: From August 21st through September 16th, we will be providing previews for each player for the 2013-14 season. In no specific order, today we continue with Nick Spaling…

Nick Spaling’s last 3 seasons
Team GP G A PTS P/M FO% TOI
 2010-11 MIL 4 1 1 2 +1 N/A N/A
 2010-11 NSH 74 8 6 14 -10 50.9% 13:55
 2011-12 NSH 77 10 12 22 -7 50.1% 15:42
 2012-13 NSH 47 9 4 13 -10 46.3% 15:51

2012-13 in review:
Like many of the Predators, Nick Spaling took a long time to get going last season. Through 23 games he had just five points and saw his ice time dip considerably at midseason. He was a healthy scratch on Mar. 8 against Edmonton and increased his production in the season’s second half, tallying eight points in 24 games.

Spaling’s most important role on the team is the penalty kill. He finished second among Predators forwards in shorthanded ice time per game (2:05) but wasn’t as effective on the penalty kill compared to recent seasons. Spaling finished with a shorthanded GA/60 rate of 7.61, down from the 6.95 and 4.54 rates he recorded in the two seasons prior.

As a restricted free agent in the off-season, Spaling and the Predators avoided arbitration in July and settled on a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

Burning question for 2013-14: What is Spaling’s role?
When the Predators signed four forwards on the first day of free agency, some wondered whether Spaling (an RFA at the time) would have a spot on the 2013-14 roster. As mentioned, the 24-year-old was re-signed and enters the season fighting for a spot in the opening night lineup.

But as this season progresses, what will Spaling’s role be in the lineup? Over the last two years he hasn’t been a healthy scratch a whole lot, but with so many forwards – especially ones who possess a similar role to Spaling – it makes you wonder just how many games the fifth-year forward will play in this season.

The penalty kill will have to be better this season, and one can assume Spaling will be in the lineup for that purpose. However, off-season additions Matt Hendricks and Eric Nystrom saw a lot of shorthanded ice time in their previous stops and could reduce Spaling’s role on the PK unit. It will be interesting to see how all of that unfolds.

 
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