Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua
On June 30th, the Nashville Predators will select fourth overall in the NHL Draft, the team’s highest pick since their inaugural season in 1998. Who did the team take in that first draft? David Legwand. While Legwand never developed into an elite player, he has been a consistent contributor for the organization during his 14 year tenure. While this past season was not his finest, he still led the team in scoring for the second time in his career.
From Then to Now
Comparing Legwand’s statistics from one year to the next is less exciting than most because his numbers have remained fairly consistent through the years. He finished second on the team in points with 58 in 2011-2012. Last season, he led the team with 12 goals but saw his lowest points per game total since 2009-2010.
Two Number Twos
The Predators have a blessing and a curse on their hands in the form of Mike Fisher and David Legwand. Both players are hardworking and solid on both ends of the ice. At the same time, neither are game-breakers from an offensive standpoint. Fisher and Legwand can play interchangeably on the first or second line, but both of them are really high-end number two centers instead of a true number ones.
If you look at the best teams, almost all of them have an elite center or two (Malkin/Crosby, Datsyuk, Toews, Getzlaf, Kopitar, Sedin, Krejci/Bergeron, etc.). There is a decent chance the team will draft a potential franchise center with their fourth pick, which could eventually move the Fisher/Legwand tandem to the second and third forward lines.
Due to an inordinate amount of injuries to their forwards, Nashville frequently had to call upon inexperienced AHL players to step in this past season. Taylor Beck, Austin Watson, Kevin Henderson, Chris Mueller, Daniel Bang and Joonas Rask were several of the names who were asked to contribute on the big stage. Filip Forsberg was also added late in the season and had no NHL experience as well.
This injection of youth can be a positive, but only if there are veterans to help them navigate the NHL waters. Legwand, along with Fisher and Gaustad, will need to mentor the younger forwards as they transition into larger roles with the team.
Best of Legwand
Legwand is known for scoring plenty of garbage goals throughout his career, but this one climbed right to the top. Poor Devan Dubnyk.
Nashville knows what they will get out of Legwand next year. He will fight hard, score some timely goals, but often disappear for long stretches. What happens after next season is less certain. Legwand is entering the final year of his contract and is due to receive $3.5 million next season. He will be 34 years old at this point, and it is possible the team will part ways with him in an attempt to get younger.
At the same time, the Predators might want Legwand to stick around to mentor the potentially newly acquired draft pick along with all the other young forwards. We might have a much clearer picture of his future after June 30th. Stay tuned.
The Grade: C
How Legwand grades out is dependent upon whether you view him as a first or second line caliber center. If he is a second line guy, then his offensive production isn’t too bad. If you deem him to be a first line center, then he needs to produce more to be considered successful. Ultimately, I view him as some of both, which is why I give him a C.