The Nashville Predators took a big offensive hit when puck-moving defenseman Ryan Suter signed with the Minnesota Wild.
Young defenseman Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis have provided added to the offense in spurts, but neither could replace Suter’s productivity on the top defensive pairing and one the No. 1 power play unit.
Now the loss of key forward Colin Wilson and Patric Hornqvist to “upper body” injuries, the Preds are really scrambling. Wilson leads Nashville in scoring this season with 19 points and Hornqvist has scored 20 or more goals three times for the Predators.
The team claimed forwards Zach Boychuk and Bobby Butler off waivers last week and plugged them into the mix.
The team had no internal solutions to fill the offensive void. That can’t be a good feeling for coach Barry Trotz, but he is a master at making the most of modest resources.
“It’s the reality and the cruelty of sports that guys will get hurt sometimes, and when they do, there’s optimism and opportunity for others,” Trotz told the Tennessean. “You get a chance to step in and contribute. If you don’t, someone else will and you’ll have to wait for your next turn.”
Boychuk started the year with Carolina but failed to hold his scoring line role there. Pittsburgh claimed him on waivers, tested him in a scoring line role and then put him on waivers.
“It’s been kind of a roller-coaster year, that’s for sure,” Boychuk told the Tennessean. “Making the team in Carolina was a high, and then you get a low of not playing the next few games and getting waived. Then comes the high of getting picked up by Pittsburgh and playing with the top line. But you almost feel like you won the lottery and weren’t able to cash in the ticket.
“Then it’s back on waivers and another high of getting picked up by the Predators and scoring in the first game. It’s been a very interesting month and a half for sure, but hopefully this is my home now and I can keep playing well and keep making a name for myself here.”