6 Shea Weber – defense
boy man is on his way to being one of the most sought after defensemen in the NHL. So I should not have to tell you how happy I am that Nashville gets to keep him around for another year. Even at the end of next season, he’ll be an RFA and not a UFA. David Poile better put up or shut up to keep him around. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Shea Weber is a future captain of this team, just waiting for everything to fall into place. The way he has handled himself in the last two seasons only further fuels my belief that this will come to fruition. I am sure I said it at the end of last season and I’ll keep saying it until it happens. Because IT WILL HAPPEN. Shea, along with Ryan Suter, is the backbone of the Predators defensive core. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon either. I mean, he’s SHEA FREAKING WEBER. Even Steve Sullivan says so. You do remember the goal he scored in Vancouver where the puck went right through the net, right? Yeah, it’s almost like Shea Weber is the Chuck Norris of hockey. Everyone fears him and I hope he continues to play at a level where that fear doesn’t subside any time soon.
8 Kevin Klein – defense
At the end of last season, the biggest discussion revolving around Kevin Klein was him getting more ice time once Ville Koistinen became the apparent odd man out. Well, he definitely got more ice time this season. It’s just (as previously discussed), the pairing of Kevin Klein and Dan Hamhuis often led to really bad things. This was quite unfortunate because separately, both are solid defensemen. Whatever magic the coaching staff seemed to think they would have together was all smoke and mirrors before too long. Klein will be on the roster for at least three more seasons so he’ll have a chance to redeem himself, as long as he winds up with a new defense partner. If David Poile can’t keep Hammer around over the summer, then all of the “split 2 and 8” talk will fade away. Then Kevin can get back to channeling his inner Shea Weber; occasionally winding up for a slap shot from the point. He’s gotten pretty good at that too.
9 Marcel Goc – forward
Not knowing much, if anything, about Marcel Goc before the start of the season, I wasn’t expecting great things out of him. At the end of the season, I was happy to have him around because he put up his best season ever. Goc seemed to click with every line, which bodes well for a player in the Predators system since Coach Trotz dabbles in amateur juggling throughout the season. I never found myself yelling at Goc either, so he must have been doing something right. For a guy who was floundering in San Jose, Nashville was surely a nice, refreshing change of pace. Now, if only I can get past the fact that he always looks like he needs a good 20 hour nap…
10 Martin Erat – forward
Okay, I’m going to go ahead and admit right now that I thoroughly enjoy everything about Martin Erat’s play. Yes, he might be frustrating sometimes and yes, he might not put up the numbers that most would expect from someone who gets paid so handsomely. But you know what, he knows how to make up for it in the long run. For all the bad mouthing that I heard in reference to him for the majority of the season, Erat still managed to come in second on the team for goals scored and total points overall. Not that this was his best season ever but he could have finished far worse. Sadly, I think Erat is doomed to another four years of ridicule and criticism based largely on the size of his contract. I would love nothing more than for him to prove all his naysayers wrong in the coming seasons, if for no other reason than for my own personal happiness. Plus, I love being right.
Next up: David Legwand, Dustin Boyd, Cal O’Reilly and Michael Santorelli
Ugh, that’s going to be one tough group to write up.