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Stacking the Pads: Nov. 6

– The other day, David Boclair of The Nashville Post pondered: Is David Legwand’s fast start a prelude to another payday?

Legwand, 33, is in the final season of a six-year contract. His fast start (12 points in 14 games) has led many in Nashville to wonder what the future holds for the Predators’ first-ever draft pick. As Boclair points out in his article, this isn’t the first time Legwand has gotten off to a fast start.

2006-07
First 14: 10 points
Season: 63 points
2007-08
First 14: 13 points
Season: 44 points
2011-12
First 14: 14 points
Season: 53 points
2013-14
First 14: 12 points
Season: TBD

This torrid start by Legwand has caused some Predators followers to believe the veteran center should be re-signed. People on the other side of the debate are leery of this simply being a common situation where a player overachieves in a contract year, as this could be Legwand’s last chance to earn solid money on a multi-year deal.

Within a season Legwand can be streaky – very streaky, for that matter. By the end of the season, though, you generally know what you’re going to get from him: 40-50 points and solid two-way play. The issue is the Predators have enough players of that ilk. Spending upwards of $4 million to bring back Legwand would maintain the current logjam at center when that money could be allotted towards a more-useful offensive weapon via trade or free agency.

There is also the issue that The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper brought up: With the Sedin twins re-signing in Vancouver, it further weakens an already-average free agent class and could make Legwand more of a commodity if he hits the open market.

It would be tough for the Predators to watch their all-time points and games played leader walk away next summer. But they also can’t react to the first 14 games when 68 remain. In some cases, Legwand’s production has slowed down considerably following the aforementioned fast starts.

There is a lot of time left for GM David Poile and company to make a determination on Legwand’s future with the team. It is best they use that time wisely and let things play out.

 

– On Tuesday night it was reported by Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet that Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne will miss six-to-eight weeks with an E. Coli infection that has developed in his hip. That would take him out until around Christmas. It was not made clear how Rinne came down with this infection, but it’s possible it stemmed from the surgery he had to drain the first infection he had on Oct. 24.

The Predators have not announced this latest news concerning the team’s franchise netminder.

If this news is true, it likely means Rinne’s hopes of playing in February’s Winter Olympics are all but done. Obviously this news is a tough break to Rinne and the Preds, as the initial one month timeline could be stretched to two months. However, it’s particularly tough for Rinne as it relates to the Olympics because he was looking forward so much to the opportunity of representing Finland in Sochi, especially after being snubbed in 2010.

“It’s always been my dream to play in the Olympics,” Rinne said in September. “As an athlete, the Olympics is the biggest thing you can experience. There are all different kinds of athletes from different sports, all the best athletes in the world. Just to be one of them, that would be something you would remember forever.”

 

– With Rinne sidelined, a lot of attention has been placed on Carter Hutton in his absence. He has started all four games since Rinne suffered the infection, and in the process has been under somewhat of a microscope in Nashville.

In the team’s media guide, Hutton mentioned one rule he’d most like to see changed in the NHL is getting rid of the trapezoid behind the net. That thinking is consistent with most goaltenders, but especially ones, like Hutton, who tend to play the puck more than others.

“When I was in college they didn’t have it, so you had free reign to wander everywhere and handle the puck. Here you are limited,” Hutton said. “In some aspects it’s good because I know which pucks I can play and which ones I can’t play. But I did enjoy being able to wander; yet that was in college where I could get away with it, where here it would be a little different.”

 

– When Matt Cullen was just getting acclimated to the NHL, one of his teammates in Anaheim was current Predators radio color analyst Stu Grimson. The two even played on the same line from time to time. What was it like having the ‘Grim Reaper’ as a teammate?

“It was a pretty cool experience to be on a team with him,” Cullen said. “You get into the room and you’re really intimidated by a guy like that when he looks so big and intimidating, but he’s a really good guy and was a mentor for me at a young age. … He was a great teammate. I really enjoyed my time playing with Stu. He was a class act and a good person to be around.

“At one point I had Stu on one wing and Jim McKenzie on the other wing, so I felt like I was 6-foot-6 out there. I’ve never been tougher, that’s for sure. I picked up a lot of gloves that year.”

 

– Former Predators captain Jason Arnott officially retired from the NHL on Tuesday. He had a very good NHL career and still holds the Predators’ single-season record for goals with 33. Arnott spent four seasons with the Predators, the best of which was the 2007-08 season where he put up 72 points in 79 games played. Arnott is one of the best goal-scorers the Predators have ever had and arguably the best offensive center in franchise history.

The highlight of his career came in 2000 when he scored the Stanley Cup winning goal for the New Jersey Devils against the Dallas Stars. In Nashville, he will always be remembered for scoring the winning goal against Detroit in Game 3 of the 2008 Western Conference Quarterfinals.

Arnott finished his career with 417 goals and 938 points in 1,244 games played.

 

– On the first day of training camp, Head Coach Barry Trotz was asked about the defense’s inexperience as a whole and whether that made him nervous.

“Not nervous; enthusiastic in some ways,” Trotz responded. “Usually you go in with doubt. I don’t doubt this group of young guys. I know they are going to be good. There are times when you have unproven commodities and think they may not be able to get it done; they are going to get it done. They just have to get experience and the only way they can do it is to play games.”

Through 14 games this season, Trotz’s assessment of his blue line from nearly two months ago has been accurate. In particular, Seth Jones has been great and Mattias Ekholm has improved by leaps and bounds. With Rinne out, along with some of the goal-scoring inconsistencies, the defense corps is the last thing Trotz is worried about.

 

– Eric Nystrom seems to be well on his way to a career season in the goal scoring department. He’s put up four goals in 14 games for the Predators, which is impressive for a player whose plays more of a grinding type role. Even more impressive is the fact that his four goals are tied for the team lead with David Legwand, Patric Hornqvist and Shea Weber. Nystrom’s career high goal total for one season came in the 2011-12 season with the Dallas Stars when he scored 16 goals in 74 games played. Nystrom is currently on pace for 23 goals.

Of the four forwards the Predators signed this past offseason, Nystrom has more goals by himself than Matt Cullen (2), Matt Hendricks (1) and Viktor Stalberg (0) combined. Nystrom is also fifth on the Predators in shots on goal with 30 through 14 games.

 

– Through 14 games, the Predators have had more injuries than they had at the same point of last season – and we all know how the injury bug affected them in the second half. This time around the Preds have to hope that the revolving door of injuries is something that will be out of the way after the season’s first half.

2012-13 2013-14
 Game  Injured  Game  Injured
 Jan. 19  Bourque  Oct. 3  Forsberg, Stalberg
 Jan. 21  Bourque, Gaustad  Oct. 4  Forsberg, Stalberg
 Jan. 22  Gaustad  Oct. 8  Josi, Spaling, Stalberg
 Jan. 24  Gaustad  Oct. 10  Josi, Stalberg
 Jan. 26  Oct. 12  Josi
 Jan. 28  Hornqvist  Oct. 15  Josi
 Jan. 31  Hornqvist  Oct. 17  Josi
 Feb. 2  Erat, Hornqvist  Oct. 19  Fisher, Josi
 Feb. 5  Hornqvist  Oct. 20  Fisher, Josi
 Feb. 7  Hornqvist  Oct. 22  Fisher, Josi
 Feb. 9  Hornqvist  Oct. 24  Josi, Rinne
 Feb. 10  Hornqvist  Oct. 26  Josi, Rinne
 Feb. 12  Hornqvist  Oct. 31  Rinne
 Feb. 14  Hornqvist  Nov. 2  Hendricks, Rinne

 

– Bovada recently released updated betting odds for everything NHL. The Predators’ Stanley Cup odds moved down from 50-1 to 66-1. Their odds for winning the Central Division currently sit at 25-1. Jones’ odds for winning the Calder Trophy are at 3-1, behind San Jose’s Tomas Hertl and Calgary’s Sean Monahan.

 

– On Wednesday morning, Trotz joined The First Quarter on 102.5 The Game for his weekly Coffee with the Coach segment:

Robby Stanley contributed to this article

 
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