Found June 06, 2012 on The Predatorial:
Edmonton_oilers_v_3a3c

Coming off a season where they had given up only 190 goals, third best in the entire NHL, the Predators would try to continue their usual defensive success again during the 2011-2012 campaign. Would they be just as efficient? Nearly. Only allowing 15 more goals than they did in the previous year (205), which put them in a tie for 8th overall in the NHL.

There were surprises and disappointments for Nashville this season, however the one thing that seemingly always remains a constant factor for them is their stout defensive prowess. While some teams don’t seem to have any consistency there, the Predators’ blue-line never seems to have any problem at all.

Defensive Surprises

1) Kevin Klein – The usual “whipping boy” for the entirety of Nashville’s fan base, Klein had has breakout season this year, playing the best hockey of his career in my opinion. Scoring 21 total points in the regular season (4 goals, 17 assists), including 4 points in the playoffs (2 goals, 2 assists), Klein’s offensive contributions sometimes overshadowed the fact that without his defensive play the Predators would have been in trouble on more than one occasion.

And here are some great examples:

While most of Klein’s defensive decisions aren’t perfect, he slowly became the one player on the ice who you forgot was out there, which is exactly how a great defensive player should be. When he contributed offensively it was great. When he stopped a defensive lapse it was great. Yes, he had his own moments, but this year was Kevin Klein’s best season, hands down.

2) Roman Josi – For a rookie, Josi was head and shoulders above what Nashville could have expected from him this season. Becoming a mainstay on the Predators blue-line (so much so that fans expressed their sincerest displeasures when he was injured and out of the lineup), Josi tallied 5 goals and 11 assists in his rookie campaign. He averaged the 4th most ice time out of all defensemen for Nashville with 18:23 average a game, only below Klein/Weber/and Suter. That’s saying something.

Defensive Disappointments

1) Teemu Laakso – Boy, this guy had his chance and effectively blew it. 9 games, 0 points, a -1 overall, and averaging 11 minutes a game. Laakso was sent back to the minors early in the season. While he collected 20 points in 55 games with the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL, it wasn’t enough for him to break back into the lineup for Nashville, not in the least.

Laakso signed a 2 year deal with Severstal of the KHL a couple days ago. Whether he still wants a chance to prove himself in the NHL, Laakso will be taking his “talents” to northwest Russia now.

2) Mattias Ekholm – Yikes, this was a laugher. Ekholm spent a few game with Nashville early in the season and performed badly enough that Coach Trotz went on the record saying he was “horrible, absolutely horrible”. After being chewed up by the associated Nashville media, he was sent back to the his Swedish Elite League team, Brynas IF.

Now, I’m not saying Ekholm isn’t a good defenseman, because he definitely has the potential/talent to be one, but his time early in the season with Nashville wasn’t a good indicator. Hopefully we’ll see leaps and bounds of improvement this upcoming year at training camp.

3) Jonathan Blum – Now Blum, in my opinion, is the one player I almost didn’t put in the “disappointment” category, however I just couldn’t simply ignore what happened this season. After playing in nearly half the season for the Predators, Blum was summarily sent back to the Admirals early in December. He was, for lack of a better term, ineffective after such a prosperous end to his season in 2010-2011. Scoring 3 goals and 4 assists in 33 games and garnering a -14 overall, Blum saw his ice time slowly dwindle for the Predators until he eventually was re-assigned back to the minors.

Blum, in my mind, is the one player I expected to REALLY play better than he did this year. I’m not sure exactly what happened, however I look forward to seeing what kind of fiery passion Blum plays with come time for training camp this year. Depending on the defensive situation for Nashville this season, he could easily break the lineup. Plus, he’s always a easy guy to interview, which is a bonus of course.

Defensive “Eh”‘s

1) Ryan Ellis – I can’t say too much about the Human Rocketship, however he didn’t impress me, but he didn’t disappoint me either. Is that good? Not really, but it isn’t bad either. I still think Ellis is going to be a great defenseman in the NHL one day, however I’m not so sure if it will be for the Predators or not. Hopefully it will be, but I could easily see Ellis being traded off this summer to 1) get back into the first round of the draft or 2) become packaged together with something else in a larger trade [of sorts].

I know that’s not very elaborate thinking, however what Nashville could get from dealing off Ellis could be a very large return…if it’s done sooner rather than later.

————

Overall, I was thoroughly pleased with the majority of Nashville’s defensive play this year. As usual, they had the defensive stalwarts of Suter and Weber to anchor the top line for the Predators (and hopefully we’ll have them for many years to come), and they had the added play of Franky Bouillon, Jack Hillen, and Hal Gill (later on in the season) as well. I’m grading them with an A-. They played great, but there is room for improvement.

THE BACKYARD
BEST OF MAXIM
RELATED ARTICLES

After long wait for return, Predators ready to say goodbye to Alexander Radulov

After patiently waiting for almost four seasons for wayward Predator Alexander Radulov to make a return to Music City, the Preds are now ready to send him on his way to another NHL team or the KHL.According to Josh Cooper of the Tennessean, David Poile made it clear today that Radulov did not fit into the Predators future plans. He indicated that a trade or a release to a KHL team...

Press Release: Predators sign 2010 draft pick Patrick Cehlin

Nashville, Tenn. (June 5, 2012) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed 2010 draft pick Patrick Cehlin (PAT-rihk SAY-lihn) to a three-year entry-level contract. Cehlin is expected to play his first season in North America in 2012-13. Cehlin, 20 (7/27/91), ranked fourth on Djurgarden in both goals...

PRESS RELEASE: Preds ink Cehlin in the nick of time

Nashville, Tenn. (June 5, 2012) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed 2010 draft pick Patrick Cehlin (PAT-rihk SAY-lihn) to a three-year entry-level contract. Cehlin is expected to play his first season in North America in 2012-13.Cehlin, 20 (7/27/91), ranked fourth on Djurgarden in both goals ...

Nashville Not Interested In Re-Signing Radulov

from Josh Cooper of the Tennessean, The Alexander Radulov era in Nashville will likely come to an end soon. Predators general manager David Poile said today he’s looking to trade the forward’s rights to another NHL team or allow him to return to the Kontinental Hockey League. “The best way to characterize it is it’s time to not pursue Rad anymore,” Poile said. “If he...

PRESS RELEASE: Predators sign Patrick Cehlin (2010 5th Round Pick) to 3 Year ELC

This just in per the Nashville Predators, press release below: “Nashville, Tenn. (June 5, 2012) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed 2010 draft pick Patrick Cehlin (PAT-rihk SAY-lihn) to a three-year entry-level contract. Cehlin is expected to play his first season in North America in 2012-13...

PRESS RELEASE: Preds sign 2010 Draft Pick

The Nashville Predators have signed 2010 draft pick, Patrick Cehlin to a three year entry-level contract. Here is the press release.Nashville, Tenn. (June 5, 2012) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed 2010 draft pick Patrick Cehlin (PAT-rihk SAY-lihn) to a three-year entry-level contract. Cehlin...

Radulov and Predators cut ties

As first reported by Joshua Cooper of the Tennessean, Nashville Predators' General Manager, David Poile will look to trade Radulov's rights to another team in the NHL or allow him to return to the KHL with CSKA Moscow.So, Alexander Radulov will most likely not be playing in a Predators uniform in the 2012-13 season.  David Poile said, "It is time not to pursue Radulov...

Paul McCann: A-Rad Experiment Ends - Random Notes and SlapShot Radio

So much for the A-Rad experiment. After more twists and turns than an Agatha Christie novel, Alexander Radulov’s time with the Nashville Predators is done according to Josh Cooper in today’s Tennessean, quoting Predators GM David Poile, “The best way to characterize it is it’s time to not pursue Rad anymore.” Full marks to David Poile for not allowing...

Predators NOW! Podcast: Radulov and Predators Done

Mark Willoughby of The View From 111 and I talk about David Poile's decision to cut ties with Alexander Radulov and the reason this happened. Also, we discussed what happens next for Radulov and the Nashville Predators.Listen to the podcast. 

Jan Levine: Views on Radulov, Schultz and Torts on Costas

Alexander Radulov: With Friday's news that Marian Gaborik has a torn labrum and rotator cuff, speculation as to who the Rangers could acquire was already running wild and I added several names in my prior blog. On Sunday, Larry Brooks threw out what I would call a medium level bombshell by reporting that GM Glen Sather had more than just "kicking the tires" conversation...

Radulov not the right fit with Predators

The torturous relationship between the Nashville Predators and restricted free agent Alex Radulov is almost over. In recent days, Predators general manager David Poile said in a phone interview with FoxSportsTennessee.com, he has given Radulovs agent Jay Grossman permission to try and negotiate deals with other NHL teams. If he can, Nashville then would have to work out a trade...
Predators News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.