With seven wins and three losses in the month of December as of the 29th, the Nashville Predators are looking good. The Predators sit in 4th place in the NHL, just two points behind Central division-leading Chicago Blackhawks with two games in hand.
Youth is key to furthering any organization, and the Predators have some of the top young players in the league. In fact, Filip Forsberg is the best rookie in the NHL, leading all first-year players in goals, assists, and points. Forsberg is also tied for first in the plus-minus category league-wide, and leads the Nashville Predators organization in points. Leading in so many categories, Forsberg is clearly talented; what might be most impressive is the way he reads the game.
Other young guns, including Calle Jarnkrok, Seth Jones, Taylor Beck, and Mattias Ekholm, are also impressing. Jones was selected fourth overall in 2013; he joined the team just months later and played in 77 games of a terrible Predators season. However, this season Jones is a plus eight and has been looking good.
While not technically a rookie, Taylor Beck is playing his first full NHL season. With his big body and strong shot, Beck makes his way to the front of the net and scores goals; he has four goals and eight points in 26 games. Jarnkrok and Ekholm have both impressed with their two way capabilities; both of them have nine points.
While the Predators have great rookie players, they also have young guys, not quite in their prime, who are performing excellently. It might be hard to believe that James Neal is in this category, but at just 27 he might not even be in his prime yet. He has 11 goals and 21 points on the season. Neal appears to be committed to Nashville despite this being his first season with the Predators.
Returners Colin Wilson and Craig Smith have 18 and 19 points respectively. Wilson is more known for being a center but has become a productive winger. Craig Smith is the right winger on the Predators most productive line centered by Mike Ribeiro with Forsberg on the left wing. The line has a total of 82 points thus far. Defensively, Roman Josi has been shining with 16 assists and 20 points the defenseman plays alongside Captain Shea Weber. At just 24, Josi is playing in his fourth NHL season.
Young players in the Predators organization have great role models in Captain Shea Weber and outstanding goalie Pekka Rinne. Mike Fisher and Matt Cullen are also experienced players who are eager to help the team. Weber, one of the best defenseman in the NHL, displays skill and leadership with every performance. Pekka Rinne is arguably the third best goalie in the league behind Jonathan Quick of the L.A. Kings and Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. Rinne is a great example of how working hard can lead to success. While Mike Fisher has suffered through many injuries over the past few years, he is still highly skilled and a strong leader. The center averages just over half a point a game throughout his entire career. Matt Cullen, the oldest player to ever play for the Predators, and Mike Fisher both contribute to Nashville being number ten in the league in blocked shots.
Ultimately, The Nashville Predators have close to perfect organizational balance. They have excellent rookies, youth, and experienced players. Hockey in Nashville likely won’t look different for many years to come. Not only do the Predators look strong for the future, they look like they can win a Stanley Cup in the next five to seven years.