Nashville Predators – Midterm Grades (Forwards)

Prior to the losses in Chicago and now Winnipeg, I took a look at the Goalies and Defensemen, and assigned them some grades based on a half-season look at where the team is at.




FILIP FORSBERG – (C-) – Hey, don’t get me wrong. I love this guy, but these grades are based on the 2015-16 team, first half of the season, and he was definitely below average. I have no doubt that come season’s end, if the team makes the playoffs, he gets this grade up considerably. If the team flounders, and he is just another guy being offered an early shot at the Worlds, then he was a big disappointment.


JAMES NEAL – (C) – It’s awfully hard to say that your team’s leading goal scorer is also a big disappointment, but prior to Ryan Johansen’s arrival, he was just ok, and a carbon copy of his debut season in Smashville, which was nothing to write home about. He had a nice 40 goal season playing alongside Malkin a few years back (2011-12) but there’s no denying there’s no Malkin in Nashville.


MIKE RIBEIRO – (F) – Sorry, Mike. You made everyone around you better last year. This season, it’s a whole different story. Your numbers aren’t horrible, but you are not making any of your linemates look particularly good. And, you’re here for a year after this one. No one will touch you at the deadline, so I have to hope you practice patience and hold onto that puck a second longer than you did in the first half. Find your game. Earn your keep. Make us spectators oooh and aaah…


COLIN WILSON – (D) – An enigma. Seems to have all the tools, and at 25 years old, should be a rising star. Instead, he’s an overpriced guy who doesn’t seem to be a fit anywhere the coaching staff puts him. His time spent injured has limited some of his ability to rack up some points, but on pace for less than 10 goals for the full season, he’s certainly not worthy of a 4 year, 4M per kind of deal. That being said, I imagine a few GM’s remain intrigued. Stay tuned.


CRAIG SMITH – (D+) – The second half of the “Enigma Twins” has job security, a fat wallet, and a string of games where he’s completely invisible, which are then followed by a couple of games where he either scores, or misses insanely obvious chances. There’s always that fear that when David Poile tires of his act, and ships him to fillintheblank, he will find the consistency that has eluded him thusfar in his career. Skilled, but not a guy who shows up on a nightly basis.


CALLE JARNKROK – (B) – Fact is, this is a guy who some people thought would slot down as far as Milwaukee this year, but he made the team and then found himself with increased ice time and responsibility. His numbers are a reasonable uptick from last season, but not up enough to say he’s absolutely taken the final step to NHL security. Valuable on the PK, and often called out for his exceptional Hockey IQ. Bold steps forward in the first half of the season.


MIKE FISHER – (D+) – Were we kidding ourselves when we judged how well Fisher played last year after joining the team around Thanksgiving, having missed two months recuperating from an injury? Really invisible for long stretches this season, and having missed a handful of games due to yet another injury, it’s beginning to look a lot like he needs to turn it up a notch or the team will be Golfing in April.


CODY HODGSON – (D+) – Poor Cody Hodgson. He of the great “CORSI” statistics. He of the ten minutes a night he lulled you to sleep as you thought MAYBE he’d rebound from a couple of off seasons and become a legit offensive threat for Nashville. Winner of this year’s Derek Roy/David Poile/We Tried, We Failed Award.


ERIC NYSTROM – (C) – Nystrom may not have enough decisions to win an NHL Cy Young Award, but at 7-0, he’s got to be in the mix. Obviously he rarely passes the puck for a high scoring chance, but he is willing to plant himself in front of the net to get pucks bounce off him on occasion. That he doesn’t get a second on the PP means opposing netminders rarely have to fear they won’t actually see a Preds shot coming.


PAUL GAUSTAD – (C-) – The deal is that his deal is almost up. If the Preds continue to contend for a playoff spot, they may not be sellers at the deadline, but in any event, this is a guy Poile can parlay into a draft choice of some sort come March 1st, because honestly, most contending teams could use this guy on the faceoff dot. A much better player than he shows nightly in a 4th line role in Nashville.


AUSTIN WATSON – (C) – Another of the bubble guys who may shuttle between Nashville and Milwaukee at any time (along with Salomaki, Arvidsson, and Sissons) – Big, tall, strong, 23, but hasn’t shown the kind of offense that would keep him in a top 9 forward slot. Fourth line guys are in abundance in Nashville, so I don’t suppose his future moving forward past this season, will be paved in gold.


RYAN JOHANSEN – (INCOMPLETE) – We know the guy is an “A” when on his game, and the first few games he played for the Preds showed that he will be a nice fit on the top line, and first PP unit. Finding comparable linemates may be an issue, but for the moment, let’s say Neal and Forsberg should benefit from this guy’s skill set.


MIIKKA SALOMAKI – (C) – You won’t see him show up on the scoreboard very often, but the fact is, he does work his tail off, and he has tremendous hockey instincts. Slightly undersized at 5’11, but solid at just over 200 lbs, “Salty” seems to do his job with few errors, and though he might be a bubble guy right now, if he chooses to continue his career in North America, he’d fit right in on any Preds team.


VIKTOR ARVIDSSON – (C+) – Gets the benefit of the doubt from me because I think with my heart and not my head on occasion. He plays as if he were shot out of a cannon. Absolutely fearless, and plays in areas few Preds care to tread. Problems are balance, and bad penalties. Gotta believe he still has a future in Nashville, but for now, he’ll pile up the points in Milwaukee.


GABRIEL BOURQUE – (C-) – A goal and three assists in 22 games and a bunch of injury time, and you forget he’s just 24. The man has hands of stone, but he does show some effective play along the boards. He’s never going to be much more than he has shown in his six years in the organization, but remember the lockout year? He had 11 goals in 34 games. Seems like an improbability at this point moving forward.


COLTON SISSONS – (C) – Average, in that not a lot was expected of him, and he delivered just that. Had a goal and an assist in 19 games. He’s 21, and Captain of the Milwaukee Admirals. Will he be 31 and Captain of an AHL team in 10 years? That’s the question. Still has upside, and Preds brass seem to know that.


KEVIN FIALA – (INCOMPLETE) – A recent (fairly undeserving) recall, around the time of the Johansen trade in an effort to jumpstart the offense. There’s no question this kid has an NHL future, and he’ll be a fan favorite in no time. Watch the attitude, and pray for maturity.


CODY BASS – (INCOMPLETE) – But, you know how I feel. The guy has been a marginal NHL guy with Ottawa, and Columbus, with some minor league stops in both the Lightning and Blackhawk organizations, and will be a footnote in Preds history when all is said and done.




Face the facts, some things never come together…

The deal is that the sky is falling, the sky isn’t falling, the Preds are terrible, Pekka is terrible, the Preds are ok, Pekka is fine. Whatever the company line you want to toe, toe it… but there’s some truth to the statement that the Preds have really screwed things up in the NHL.


A month or so ago, everyone said there would be no wildcards to come out of the Pacific Division, and that the Central Division teams that were in, were IN. Now, look at this mess. Nashville is currently OUT, Colorado is currently IN, Winnipeg is now only three points behind Nashville, and just four behind Colorado, and then over in the allegedly weak Pacific, after Los Angeles, Arizona and San Jose, look at Vancouver who LOST last night, but are actually a point ahead of Winnipeg and just two behind the Preds. Anaheim a point behind Vancouver, and Calgary a point behind Anaheim. Then, holding up the bottom is Edmonton, who are only seven points behind currently guaranteed seed San Jose, and will get Connor McSavior back after the All Star Game. That can only mean a better second half for the Oil.


Back to the Preds, who may actually be able to meet up with Seth Jones for some early golfing in mid-April, the team is dreadful to watch. Third period comeback or not, the wheels are off the bus, and the bus is skidding aimlessly down the road with no one seemingly at the steering wheel anyway.


Latest moves include a recall of the virtually useless Cody Bass and highly-touted, and barely-deserving Swiss forward, Kevin Fiala. Down to Milwaukee in the American Hockey League go Viktor Arvidsson and Cody Hodgson. The net effect isn’t necessarily a huge positive, but admittedly, Arvidsson (a personal favorite) has done little lately, and Hodgson only serves to reinforce the fact that CORSI really might not be the best method of proving someone’s value on a hockey team.


So, Fiala scores about a minute into the game, intuitively following Ryan Johansen towards the Jets net, and putting a rebound past Winnipeg netminder Connor Hellebuyck, although play did continue for some seconds afterwards. Once sorted out, and the Preds had a lead, they held it for about twenty-five minutes, until Behemoth Byfuglien seemingly wearing one of those “DO NOT HIT” stickers on the back of his jersey decided to be a one man wrecking crew, scoring two of the next three Winnipeg strikes, victimizing a number of Predators players. Granted, on his wraparound that made it 3-1, he was just a force of nature, but watching nature happen, the captain, Shea Weber, was wondering if ice fishing was a possibility about five feet in front of Pekka Rinne.


The penalty kill, ranked 28th in the league, gave up a dandy to Bryan Little, sandwiched in between the Big Buff goals, and a crazy stretch pass from Andrew Ladd to Nikolaj Ehlers who went in all alone on a cardboard cutout of Rinne made it 4-1 about six minutes into the third period. Around that point, the posting on various Preds fan sites on Facebook had people essentially hanging themselves by their guitar strings and straps. Most of the blame was placed on the shoulders of Rinne, who, of course, after the team tied the game dramatically, and saw Johansen hit the post in the overtime, was completely overmatched by Blake Wheeler, who scored the winner just fifty-one seconds into 3 on 3 play. Filip Forsberg… minus 3. Somehow Weber and Josi came out even, and then there was James Neal at plus two. It was just a mixed bag… of CRAP!


Returning home, the Preds have games against Minnesota and Chicago. You KNOW Pekka will be the starter in both of those games. The team may be sinking fast, but Coach Laviolette’s use of Hutton has been “limited” to say the least, and I don’t think he’d be considering a back-up plan when the team needs to pony up and deliver a couple of solid home wins. Now, if Rinne gets pelted by the Wild… Well, maybe pigs will fly and Carter will get the call against Chicago (who may give Crawford the night off against one of the NHL “weak sisters.”)


I hope to finish up my report card on the forwards tomorrow. I know I’ve been lax, but I’ve had work obligations, and after tonight’s debacle it was just easier to spew this venom.


And, finally, please don’t assume Colin Wilson or Gabriel Bourque are the difference makers here. Yes, they will supplant guys like Bass and probably Salomaki in the lineup, and Watson will probably not get much of a shot at getting back in if guys like Nystrom and Gaustad are going to make actual contributions. (Nystrom’s goal was a beauty made possible by Ryan Ellis, and it was Gaustad’s faceoff win that made the regulation time point possible.) As for Craig Smith, I’m heading to Publix in the morning just to see if he’s pictured on a quart of milk.


Follow me on TWITTER, and thanks for reading.

Nashville Predators – Midterm Grades (Goalies and Defensemen)

Here we are at the halfway point of the season, and I’m handing out some grades that will disappoint some of the faithful fan base, but let’s take an overall look at what this team is to this point.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS (19-16-7) 45 points/5th place Central Division/clinging to last wild card position in Western Conference.

Colorado has a record of 21-19-3, also for 45 points, but have played one more game than the Preds. A loss tonight in Chicago, and an Avalanche victory at home vs. Tampa could spell some serious trouble in Smashville. A loss in Chicago and a home victory in Colorado seems to make some sense, too.


PEKKA RINNE (C+) – The problem is, that the expectations for the Finnish netminder are always off the charts. Preds fans (and the NHL) have seen Rinne singlehandedly carry the offensively challenged team on his back for long periods of time, and this season it just hasn’t happened. At 16-13-5, with a 2.48 GAA and a .906 Save Pctg., we are seeing some of the least attractive numbers the goaltender has put up since he came into the league as a starter in 2008-09. Granted, it’s the goalie that gets hot in April that helps a team move through the post season, and Pekka hasn’t had his “hot streak” yet, but the loss of Jones means a slightly more porous defense, and the PK has been horrible, so, who knows if this team even gives him the chance to get hot beyond game 82.


CARTER HUTTON (B-) – It’s not Hutton’s fault that the coaching staff has given him just six games this season, and that his numbers are not particularly impressive (3-2-1, 2.97, .895.) Fact is, Hutton hasn’t been as bad as those numbers would indicate, and he’s been left hung out to dry more than a few times in his limited playing time. There was a snafu at the beginning of a road trip earlier in the first half, when Coach Laviolette rode Rinne during a back to back situation that may have warranted Hutton, but right now, the guy is in the final year of his contract, and he’s doing all he can to show he merits an NHL job.



SHEA WEBER (C+) – As with Rinne, you expect a little more than you are getting from the captain. Weber shines bright on the offensive side of the puck, and is probably the most feared shot from the point in the entire NHL. His eight power play goals rank second in the NHL among defensemen (Carolina’s Justin Faulk has twelve!!) and he’s done that on just 29 shots (Faulk has taken 53.) My problem with Weber is that he is not a fierce hitter on the defensive side of the puck. While he plays angles reasonably well, he still does not often separate the puck from the opposing forward, and Rinne faces more chances because of that (See Doughty/Quick to understand how it can be done effectively.) Weber is a large man, and he may still be a bit fearful of re-injuring the knee that caused him to miss the team’s post season in 2015, but all talk of Norris Trophy nominations should be put at bay until he proves he can make it much tougher on the opposition in the Predators end.


ROMAN JOSI (A) – Weber’s defensive partner is having yet another impressive campaign. Granted, since New Year’s Eve, he has gone from a zero rating to a minus 5, the team has not played very good hockey over the last few weeks, and everyone has suffered. The 25 year old Swiss rearguard has arguably been the team’s MVP through the first half, and his selection (with Weber and Rinne) to the upcoming All Star Game is well deserved. Josi’s 9 goals and 22 assists leads the team in scoring, and he also heads the list in time-on-ice. He’s tied for the team lead with a couple of game winning goals, and there isn’t a team in the NHL that wouldn’t have him as a top pairing defender.


RYAN ELLIS (B) – You know what’s really funny? Two years ago, Predators fans would have ridden this kid out of town on a rail. Despite being a solid first round pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, 11th overall, you constantly heard fans chirp, “He’s too small,” “He can’t handle the pressure,” “He’s a turnover machine,” … and yet, here he is in 2016 and no one complained when GM David Poile bestowed a long term contract on him, and no one is complaining as he helps anchor the second power play unit, and along with partner Mattias Ekholm, forms a tremendous second pairing for the Preds, rarely having off nights, and always giving a consistent effort showing toughness beyond his size. Playing just a few ticks shy of twenty minutes a game, Ellis has been a “plus” player all season long and is on pace to surpass career season-high totals in goals and assists.


MATTIAS EKHOLM (B-) – Also getting locked up to a long term deal this season, third year Swede, Ekholm is closing in on his point totals of last year, with 5 goals, 11 assists in 42 games (he had 7-11 in 80 games last year.) Gaining more confidence as he gains more experience, Ekholm is averaging about  eighteen minutes a game, and with the trade of Seth Jones, will see that number go up before year’s end. Also, he has contributed points on both the power play and the penalty kill, areas where, again, based on the absence of Jones, he will see his ice time increase. Of the top four defensemen in Preds gold, he may be the most vulnerable, but his limited NHL experience (187 regular season games) only serves to further impress as he solidifies himself on the Predators blueline.


SETH JONES (C+) (traded to Columbus) – Yes, we are grading Seth, and shipping him to the Blue Jackets to fulfill the promise he exhibits at just 21 years old, in the middle of his third full season in the National Hockey League. I admit it, I’m a fan, and I personally think his play is deserving of a better grade than C+, but I’m being fair to the fans that truly believe in their heart of hearts that this man is an F from top to bottom. Seth Jones is a stud. He will flourish in the NHL. This trade can’t be graded properly until both guys sign new contracts (hopefully with their respective current clubs) and a reasonable amount of time has passed to make an accurate assessment. I marvel at Jones’ skill set, and I know he has been prone to making the obvious bad pass, or while flat footed, coughing up the puck because he can’t see a good option to make a better hockey play. I like what Jones did for Nashville, and I think Poile had better look towards improving his bottom pair, because I can’t give grades to Bitetto, Granberg, or Bartley this season (all: INCOMPLETE) – though I’m partial to Granberg because of his upside, and seeming mobility.


BARRET JACKMAN (C) – Top to bottom, prior to the Jones trade, I believe the Predators had the best top six defensive corps in the NHL. So, why all the C’s? Well, fact is they have all been pretty average, save for Josi this season. Stingy at times, and offensively overpowering at others, but unfortunately, coupled with completely ineffective forwards, the team has been stymied and finds themselves losing more than winning. Jackman was brought in on a two year deal to provide a steady, stay-at-home partner for Seth Jones, and be a tad more mobile and punishing that either Anton Volchenkov or Victor Bartley was last season. Results have been mixed this year, with Jackman getting about fourteen and a half minutes of ice on any given night, and has accrued a team leading fifty-four penalty minute. Couple that with the team’s woeful penalty killing and you see where the problem lies. Jones is gone, and Jackman is now splitting time with newcomers Bitetto and Granberg as the third pairing defensemen. Conventional wisdom (at least MINE) said that there were more than a few times over the course of the first half of the season, where Jackman’s effectiveness may have been furthered by the occasional night off, allowing the younger guys a chance to play a game or two with Jones. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and again, I call to Poile to improve on that third pairing as the team heads into the back half of the season.

A Paradox:

  • Watch David Poile speak about the deal HERE

“I feel bad for Seth Jones. Now he gets to play for THAT moron.”


1. a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses a possible truth.
So, here we are. The trade has happened, and dozens of fans who bait me daily on Facebook are dancing in the streets. WE GOT RID OF GARBAGE AND GOT A NUMBER ONE CENTER!!! They whoop, they holler, and I’m here to say, they are wrong. The Predators “got rid” of a very important defenseman for perhaps the next 15 years. The Blue Jackets “got rid” of a potential “problem child,” who, from numerous accounts, is out of shape, overweight and under-motivated. Now, on the other hand, my good friend in Los Angeles, Tom… he says, (Poile) HAS to make this deal. 6’3, 220, 23 years old, 30+ goal scorer two seasons ago… he HAS to. He’s dealing from a position of strength on the blueline. Sure, I know that when he locked up Ellis and Ekholm on long term deals the writing may have been on the wall.
And, so goes Jones… a guy who reminds me of a story about a Hall-of-Fame defenseman who came to the Los Angeles Kings via the 1980 Entry Draft.  Larry Murphy was the fourth overall pick in said draft, and the player chosen directly before him was a swift forward named Denis Savard, who went to the Blackhawks. Paul Coffey went to Edmonton two picks later! Murphy was a revelation for Kings fans. In his rookie year, he had 16 goals, 60 assists, and was the guy who helped The Triple Crown Line (Marcel Dionne, Dave Taylor, Charlie Simmer) all amass over 100 points, with Dionne’s 135 leading the charge. Over the course of three seasons with the Kings, Murphy was consistent and prolific. In an era that did not include smartphones, the World Wide Web, and snot-nosed teenagers that thought they knew everything about the sport of hockey, even though they lived in a market where ice was normally only found in one’s cocktail, Murphy began to see his confidence waver on his own side of the blueline. I would joke with regularity to Tom about the Larry Murphy “Escort Service,” where young #5 would escort opposing team’s forwards into the crease and then skate away, leaving them unmolested as they peppered King goaltenders with high probability scoring chances. Murphy had played the first six games of year four with the team, and the team started 0-4-2, including BIG losses to Toronto (6-3), The Islanders (5-2) and the Blues (7-4.) Three assists and a minus two, and a deal was struck. 22 year old Larry Murphy, he of 59 goals and 155 assists in 242 regular season games was sent packing. Off to Washington for defenseman Brian Engblom (28 years old) and forward Ken Houston (29 years old.) Engblom lasted two and a half seasons with the Kings, Houston played just 33 games for them during that 83-84 season and was out of hockey by year’s end. Murphy? Oh, he just added another eighteen seasons to his career, amassing 1216 regular season points, 215 playoff games, FOUR Stanley Cup rings, and a trip to the Hall of Fame in 2004. Los Angeles GM at the time was a drunk named George Maguire. He rarely got value for his players, and with that trade, he may have cemented himself into the “Worst Return” category in Kings history. I was probably a little naive in those days, and did not have the benefit of a smart phone, or the World Wide Web, but I knew enough about hockey to know that Maguire had been fleeced. The GM of that Washington Capitals team? David Poile.
Now, of course, Seth Jones did not put up gaudy numbers in his time in Smashville. He joined the team as a rookie, and at just 18 years old offered a glimpse into his future when Roman Josi got hurt, and he stepped in and played first pairing minutes with Shea Weber. He rarely looked out of place. The fans however, saw every “misstep” and “mistake” as a chance to say that he’d never amount to much, and in the process ignored horrible nights on the ice by guys named Weber, or Ekholm. I always gave Jones the benefit of the doubt because it’s not an easy task to play in the NHL, and specifically in the Central Division, where guys with names like Tarasenko, Toews, Kane, Seguin, Benn and the like undress defensemen on a nightly basis. What I saw was a kid who, when on the move, created some magic. He was one of the few guys on the Predators PP who seemed undeterred when trying to enter the offensive zone with some speed. Did his passes sometimes miss? Sure, this I chalk up to youthful exhuberance, and a desire to move quickly (certainly quicker than he had to in the WHL.) However, when Seth Jones was flat-footed, at a complete stop, it was almost like when my computer goes into “sleep” mode. It seems that was where he was most vulnerable, and occasionally found himself looking like a drunk coming out of a blackout as the cops were applying the cuffs.
No, we did not give up Seth Jones for the rights to Jared Boll and Fedor Tyutin. We got Ryan Johansen. Poile did get what the team needs most to address. Size down the middle. He’s only signed for this year and next, so an extension better be in the works (granted, he will still be an RFA, but between arbitration and pesky offer sheets, you want to make sure this guy is in gold for a number of years.) John Davidson and Jarmo Kekalainen knew something… they knew that they were handcuffed from a budget perspective and would not be able to keep Johansen past next year. If he had a better attitude and a non-maniacal coach, he might actually be putting up numbers that would eclipse current team leader, Scott Hartnell. And, while we are on the subject of Hartnell, there was a rumor that the deal would be “bigger,” with Colin Wilson and Hartnell trading places too. Both signed to four year deals, with Hartnell’s AAV a bit higher than Wilson, but Hartnell has 15G, 15A at press time, while Wilson, who did score the Preds lone goal last night, has 4G, 11A and has seen his face on milk cartons throughout most of the Predators season.
Back to Johansen. He moves Ribeiro to 2C, Fisher to 3C, and Jarnkrok to a wing, with Gaustad remaining at 4C until such time he is either traded, or walks, as his contract is up at the end of this season. This could be a very good move up front for the Preds. What might it look like? Forsberg and Neal with Johanson? Smith and Wilson with Ribeiro? Arvidsson and Jarnkrok with Fisher? and some permutation of Gaustad centering Nystrom, Bourque, Watson or Salomaki. (When Bourque comes back expect to see Salomaki slide back to Milwaukee.) or… Cody Hodgson? Well, at this point in time it feels a little Derek Roy-ish in the room, as there’s been roughly 500,000 of a million dollars spent, and eight points to show for it. Roy was let go at 10 points. After a half season in Edmonton, he finds himself in the Swiss league playing for Bern, and has 22 points in 22 games. Hodgson might investigate European lodging as his number in the NHL may be up sooner than expected.
The paradox is: Marc Nathan said it would be a bad idea to trade Seth Jones. Marc Nathan said David Poile would be a fool to part with a cornerstone (a cornerstone that is about to be thrust into a top pairing situation in Columbus.) Marc Nathan now thinks Poile did a good job getting equal value and addressing the team’s need. So, Marc Nathan… what’s it gonna be? Good trade? Bad trade? Trade that we won’t know the results of for a good five years?  I will say this: If Ryan Johanson is in shape, If Ryan Johanson makes Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher better players by pushing them down on the depth chart, I’m all for Ryan Johanson. When the Kings acquired Columbus’ last mal-content, Jeff Carter, they gave up a young defenseman named Jack Johnson. Devoted Kings fans called Johnson “JMFJ” (One or two guys even got JMFJ 3 jerseys.) I hated that guy. To Kings fans he did little wrong, and was Jack Mother F….ng Johnson… I was good with the acronym, though. He was, and will always be Jack Minus Forty Johnson to me, and now he gets paired with Seth Jones (presumably)… the great promise that was never realized in Nashville will be thrust into major minutes in Columbus. If he can tune out Torts, he may have a shot at greatness. If he can keep his feet moving, he will have a shot at greatness. If Johansen can put the puck in the net, Preds fans will love this trade. If Johansen becomes James Neal and his fabulous disappearing act for 59 minutes a game, it could get uglier before it gets better in Smashville.
As for Jones minutes-eating, will Anthony Bitetto fill the bill? Will Petter Granberg make anyone forget Seth Jones? Will Victor Bartley resurface after what appears to be some fairly lackluster play in Milwaukee? Will Johan Alm or Kristian Nakyva get a cup of joe? I’ll say this. I would NOT be surprised if Poile is actually looking for another defenseman. The Kings grabbed Luke Schenn, who at just 26 years old has eight years of sucking with both Toronto and Philly, yet mad reasoning would make even the biggest skeptic believe Darryl Sutter’s incoherent mumbo-jumbo might make him an effective third pairing guy on a team that strong. Dion Phaneuf is probably available, as are any number of blueliners on Toronto. Don’t they owe us one for the stench that was Santorelli and Franson? I’m not sold on Nashville’s depth at D. Look at those names above and add Conor Allen, Jimmy Oligny, Trevor Murphy, Garrett Noonan, and Taylor Aronson to the mix. (It’s at this point that some snotnosed kid with a smart phone and the Web is going to say that I haven’t mentioned Jonathan-Behemoth Diaby, and I’ll point out that there’s a reason for that.) The kid’s got nothing. Nada. He can barely keep a roster spot in Cincinnati, although he’s back in Milwaukee again for at least a minute, to add to his five pointless games. He’s only 20, but he’s long been moved from prospect to suspect in my book. I’m actually very interested to see Granberg get a few games in (and I suspect as soon as Bitetto has played a few games, we will see that happen) as it was an odd waiver acquisition and an odd happenstance that Toronto tried to sneak him through, all the while protecting Frank Corrado, who had been acquired on waivers via Vancouver, and was clearly not in Coach Babcock‘s plans. Corrado has since found his way into the Leafs lineup, and has played 3 of the club’s first 37 games with an assist.
Big day in Smashville. Let’s see what happens next. Friday two former Blue Jackets will face each other for the first time. Johansen will suit up for Nashville, and Andrew Bodnarchuk, claimed on waivers yesterday, will be in the Avs defensive corps. Yes, it has come to this!



I was adamant. Do not trade Seth Jones. He’s 21, and he’s a potential cornerstone on the blueline long after Shea Weber is gone. If I was sure we were getting the in shape, good attitude Ryan Johansen from Columbus, I’d say “Oh well, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do.” Now it’s done. File under: We’ll see.