Colin Wilson Jersey

According to general manager JoeSakic, the Colorado Avalanche plan to be aggressive this offseason. Here are five bold moves that could help turn them into Stanley Cup contenders.

The Colorado Avalanche are on the cusp of greatness after making the two past Stanley Cup Playoffs. They’ve improved each year. Most importantly, the Avalanche have the hardest part of building a contender down pat – they’ve got enough star power to overpower most teams.
Top articles
Carolina Hurricanes: How to turn the series around

However, Colorado isn’t content with where they are right now. General Manager Joe Sakic said in his exit interview with the media that he hopes to add to his roster. When Sakic says he’s going to do something, it tends to get done. So his words should be taken at face value.

The Avalanche have the cap space to make big things happen as well. Few teams enter the summer with more cap space than them. The Avalanche, according to CapFriendly, could have as much as $35 million of cap space, depending on what the salary cap ceiling for next season is.

Mikko Rantanen, Nikita Zadorov, and Alexander Kerfoot are the only RFAs they need to worry about, and only the first should get a huge deal. Even after factoring all the extension plus a re-signing of Colin Wilson, Colorado will still have about $20 million to play with, give or take a few million.

With a deep free agency class, the Avalanche should have plenty of options to add to their roster. Expect them to be active in the trade market as well, as they have some intriguing pieces. Nobody ever signs anyone to offer sheets, but the Avalanche could go that route as well.

It should be a very exciting summer in Colorado. The Avalanche are arguably the most interesting team in the NHL right now. Let’s take a look at five bold moves they should make to pry open their Stanley Cup window for the foreseeable future.

Alexei Emelin Jersey

Malkin is coming off of a shaky season in Pittsburgh. While there is no doubt that he’s an exceptional talent, he failed to put up consistent numbers in the Steel City. Over the last three seasons, Malkin has totaled 72 points in 2016-2017 (62 games), 98 points in 2017-2018 (78 games) and 72 points this past season (68 games).

In addition, Malkin’s goals above replacement (GAR) value isn’t where you’d hope it would be. In the visual below (created by Sean Tierney, Data from EvolvingWild), you’ll see that Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, Patric Hornqvist and Dominik Simon all had higher GARs than Malkin.

Testing The Water

Also, with the Penguins failing to make it far into the playoffs, it’s evident that Penguins owner, Mario Lemieux and his general manager, Jim Rutherford are testing the market. They are looking to see if a shake up would benefit the Penguins long term.

With the Penguins allegedly testing the waters, Malkin’s name has popped up and the Panthers have popped up as a potential trade partner.
Malkin To Florida?

The Panthers would be landing one talented centreman if they were to acquire Malkin.

But, the trade talks around Evgeni Malkin could take awhile. It’s Evgeni Malkin Watch! So, buckle your seat belt. It could be a bumpy ride. It wasn’t too long ago when the Panthers were in the rumour mill about potentially adding fellow Russians Sergei Bobrovsky and Artemi Panarin via free agency this summer.

While this is just speculation, you’d have to think that Malkin is intrigued about moving to South Florida and playing alongside his fellow countrymen. In addition, both Malkin and Panarin are from the same oblast. They both hail from the Chelyabinsk Oblast. Malkin grew up in Magnitogorsk and Panarin grew up in Korkino. The distance between the two towns is roughly three and a half hours.

While Bobrovsky isn’t from the same oblast as Malkin and Panarin, Bobrovsky has played alongside Malkin at the international level. All three players have represented Russia and have seen success on the international stage.

Aside from international play and whether they are from the same region in Russia, we’ve seen fellow countrymen jump at the opportunity of playing alongside each other in the NHL. Once upon a time, Daniel Alfredsson signed with the Detroit Red Wings to play alongside Nicklas Lidstrom. Mats Sundin signed with the Vancouver Canucks to join forces with fellow Swedes, Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin. Alexander Radulov signed with the Montreal Canadiens and joined fellow Russians, Alexei Emelin and Andrei Markov.

The issue is that there is no guarantee that Panarin nor Bobrovsky will sign in Florida. None. They were mentioned in rumours. Sure, there is a connection between Panthers head coach, Joel Quenneville and Panarin. The relationship between the two could help reel in Panarin, but no one knows what will happen. In addition, both players might test the market for a while. Not everyone signs on July 1st.

Plus, if Panarin and Bobrovsky choose not to sign in Florida, the chances of the Panthers acquiring Malkin aren’t great. Malkin has a No Movement Clause. He’d need to waive it in order to be dealt. While the Panthers do have a promising core and several intriguing prospects, the Panthers might not be a Stanley Cup Contender just yet. Without Panarin and Bobrovsky signing on in Florida, the chance of hoisting up the Cup in Sunrise, Florida seems a little less likely.

Pontus Aberg Jersey

As a former Edmonton Oilers writer, I wanted to ease in to my new role with GonePuckWild. What better way to do that than to talk about a player I’m very familiar with, Pontus Aberg.

Originally drafted by the Nashville Predators at 37th overall in 2012, Aberg’s suitcase has been constantly packed since 2018. At the 2018 trade deadline Pontus Aberg found himself traded to the Edmonton Oilers for Mark Letestu. In 16 games with Edmonton he registered 8 points. At the start of the 2018-2019 season, Edmonton put him on waivers. The Anaheim Ducks ended up claiming the winger to help with their lack of depth scoring.

After posting some pretty good numbers with the Ducks (19 points in 37 games) he was again traded. this time he ended up with the Minnesota Wild in a very curios move. In Minnesota his offense suddenly dried up, posting only 1 goal and 5 assists in 22 games. So after all that movement, could Aberg be on his way out of Minnesota as well?

Character Concerns

Pontus Aberg has a character problem. He struggles with professionalism and Maturity issues. There have been a couple of recent incidents over the past 2 seasons that have hurt his reputation. The incident I want to talk about comes from his time in Edmonton.

Aberg was thriving in Edmonton on a top 6 role, he had 7 points in 4 games and he was starting to look like a real player. then, at a road game against Florida, Aberg could not be found anywhere on the ice. Then the official team release on Aberg came out:

“He came out for reasons beyond his play,” McLellan said when asked about the seriousness of Aberg’s infraction. “It’s serious. The coaching staff isn’t pleased, the organization isn’t pleased and I’m sure his teammates aren’t pleased but players do make some mistakes. There are reasons for missing sometimes that you have to go and dig and find out why, and that’s already been done, and we’re ready to move on.” – Todd McLellan

While it’s never been officially confirmed, what seems like the general understanding from the media is that he missed a practice. It’s also speculated as to whether or not alcohol is one of the causes of missing that practice
Inconsistency in Anaheim

To see what I mean by inconsistency all we have to do is look at how Aberg’s time in Anaheim started, and ended.

When Aberg first came to the Ducks, he didn’t start well. In his first 5 games he went scoreless and was a -3 up to that point. during that 5 game stretch (after one game) he ended up demoted to the AHL, and still, upon return, did little to light the lamp.

Then, a 2 goal night against San Jose including a sensational goal, undressing Joakim Ryan, jump started his season.

He became a regular contributor, scoring the bulk of his 19 points with the Ducks in his next 24 games. After that stretch, once again he struggled, mightily. This period of bad play coincides perfectly with Anaheim’s 12 game losing streak, wherein he went completely scoreless and was a -12. In the middle of that streak he found himself scratched for 4 straight games. He found himself deep in then coach Randy Carlyle’s doghouse. He didn’t ever make it out in Anaheim

Due to his tendency of being a perimeter player and his unwillingness to attack the middle of the ice (outside of the goal shown above) he found himself on his way out of Anaheim. He was traded on January 16th, 2019 for Jordan Kloos, a player out of U. of Minnesota. Kloos so far this season in the AHL has 15 points in 25 games for the San Diego Gulls.

Offensive Drop Off in Minnesota

To say Pontus Aberg struggled with the Minnesota Wild this season is a big understatement. In every way Aberg regressed in Minnesota. He went from .51 points per game to .27, his Fenwick ratio tanked from 50.6 to 48.1. His Fenwick ratio relative to his teammates went from 4.9%, a positive impact to his teammates, to -4.5%. He came to Minnesota to add depth scoring, and failed at that in a big way.

Again, the inconsistency within Aberg’s game soared to new heights. going from 19 points in 37 games with the Ducks, to only 6 in 22 games with the Wild. While it isn’t surprising considering his analytic stats, it is disappointing. He possesses top end skill and shows flashes of it everywhere he goes, but he cannot show any consistency at all. Due to this he falls out of grace wherever he goes. He hurts the Wild roster scoring wise, and he hurts the Wild analytically as well. He is not a player that warrants a full-time roster spot as of right now.
Wrap Up

So should the Minnesota Wild re-sign Aberg? Probably not. Aberg is a fringe player at best and an inconsistent mess at worst. He can play well in bursts but the peaks and valleys in his game severely damage his ability as a regular contributor. The only way I think he’s a valuable piece is if he starts in the AHL next year and is one of the first call up options for the club.

If Paul Fenton believes Aberg is a regular NHL player and has him on the third line next year, that’s a problem. there will be more proven third line players out there for 2-3 million per season, which Minnesota has the cap room for. I would much rather go out and get a Michael Grabner or Richard Panik type player that can consistently contribute 35-40 points. That way you have players that can step in to the top 6 if need be in case Fiala or Donato struggle out of the gate next year.

Austin Watson Jersey

The Predators pressured the Stars early in tonight’s contest. With just over 5 minutes gone in the game, Austin Watson capitalized on a rebound and put Nashville up early in the game. Nick Bonino found a loose puck in the Nashville zone and found a way to get the puck on net, allowing Watson to convert.

The Predators went on a power play late in the first period. The boys in gold were unable to convert with the extra man. The Predators continued to pepper Ben Bishop with shots, but an unfortunate penalty by Watson put the Predators on the penalty kill with just over 2 minutes remaining in the first. The Predators killed the penalty and went into the first intermission with 19 shots on goal.

Dallas converted on a 3-on-1 chance to tie the game with 14:40 remaining in the second period. Blake Comeau was able to wrist a laser past Pekka Rinne as Mattias Ekholm tried to defend three Stars. With Comeau in the box for a delay of game, the Predators once again tried to score on the power play…with no luck.

The third period began with the teams tied at 1. The Stars and Predators played a wild period of hockey. Austin Watson was a one-man wrecking crew, and Rinne and Bishop continued to hold down the blue paint. Comeau was sent to the box once again with less than 2 minutes remaining in regulation. Nashville’s 0-for-14 penalty kill couldn’t find a way to score on the man advantage once again. Overtime.

The Stars opened up the overtime frame with incredible pressure and some solid chances in front of Pekka Rinne. With under 3 minutes remaining in overtime, John Klingberg threw a puck on net from the left circle and it leaked through Pekka Rinne. Nashville had plenty of chances to convert but could not find a way to solve Ben Bishop in the overtime frame.

Many congratulations are due to the Dallas Stars. Their fans were loud and proud and the team played an excellent series. They move on to face the St. Louis Blues, and that’ll be an absolute grinder.

Matt Irwin Jersey

Here at On the Forecheck, we keep an eye out for the latest rumors about the Nashville Predators so you don’t have to. Right now, that’s doubling as solving the cap problems of Metropolitan teams who signed bad defenders for a lot of money in free agency and whose fans have now realized this and cried out for help.
Pittsburgh in the Pits

Strange news has struck late as word out of Pittsburgh (brought to our attention by our SBNation sitemates Pensburgh) sent shockwaves throughout the online hockey community and beyond when the shocking piece found here was published Monday.

It appears as though the Pittsburgh Penguins have found themselves in a bit of a quandary when it comes to needing to shed some salary, and the Penguins’ brass may be willing to part with an 8.75 million dollar cap hit by trading away Justin Schultz and Jack Johnson. It appears to be a desperate attempt from a desperate team, struggling with their recent and shocking sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders, to desperately rebuild that team, which will surely continue to struggle in the face of their recent defeat.

On the other end of the proposed trade is none other than P.K. Subban, the multi-talented, Norris-Trophy–winning defender, who seems to be the first hockey player to be making an attempt at an EGOT.

Hockey fans will be quick to remember the cheers and adulation Sidney Crosby received from his adoring followers as he sat on Subban and bounced his head repeatedly off the ice during Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Championships back in 2017. Is there a world in which these two men, so diametrically opposed to one another, could somehow find a way to peacefully coexist in a locker room? Think of the Listerine brawls! Think of the awkward silences and staredowns! Think of the reality TV shows! Unfortunately, this trade will never work because Subban and Crosby will never work…at least not in Pittsburgh…

Hear me out.

Allow me to make, what I consider to be, a modest proposal to help a desperate team in a desperate time—for we all know, from the popular children’s tale, that it is much better to take advantage of a desperate team than to be a desperate team:

Trade Sidney Crosby

Yes, Sidney Crosby to Nashville. The Subban-Crosby dynamic duo will only work in Nashville. No, it can’t work in Pittsburgh.

Sidney Crosby is the Captain—the Big Man on Campus. In Pittsburgh, Subban, with his incredible personality, would be expected to go along with Crosby’s leadership, and that’s just a bad plan when two strong-willed people have had conflict in the past. However, when Crosby rolls into the Nashville locker room, he won’t have that problem, because Subban doesn’t wear the C…or even an A.

Crosby and Subban can just be two regular guys with a role to play on a hockey team. And, of course, having been part of a major trade, Subban can really provide some good perspective as he helps introduce Crosby to the organization as well as Nashville (the pedal taverns, the honky-tonks, the celebrity bars)!!!

While, at first, this may seem like a bitter pill for Penguins fans to swallow, it’s clear that the Penguins need to shed some cap space in order to clear the way for signing their next scoring superstar. Trading Schultz and Johnson for Subban actually doesn’t help Pittsburgh…at all! The Penguins would wind up taking on an extra quarter-million dollar cap hit by taking Subban’s contract! Dumping Sidney Crosby on the Nashville Predators might not be the greatest deal for the Predators financially, but we have to look at reality here.

The Nashville Predators actually have a lot to offer in exchange for accepting Crosby’s contract with its 8.7 million dollar cap hit until the 2024-25 season (an astronomical amount for an aging center that managed to tally a whopping 1 point in his team’s losing playoff effort this season). Let’s take a look at what the Penguins can get in return:

Matt Irwin

Sure, Matt Irwin has one less point than Sidney Crosby in the playoffs this year, but it took him four fewer games to not score any points than it took Crosby to score one! And guess what? He will only cost $675,000 towards the cap! Even better about this team-friendly deal? It only lasts for one more year! If it doesn’t work out, then you can easily let him go to free agency without any further worries.
Yannick Weber

You saw Irwin’s stats and got greedy? Guess what? The Predators can complete your third pairing by sending Yannick Weber your way as well! His playoff numbers and contract match Matt Irwin’s exactly, and Pittsburgh can get both of these guys for the low, low price of $1.35 million.

Now, it’s understandable that the $7.35 million in cap space that dumping Crosby will free up may not make up for the lack of veteran presence and leadership in the locker room that he’ll leave behind… Nashville can sweeten the deal with none other than:
Cody McLeod

Before you say to me, “This man is an unrestricted free agent, you can’t trade him OR his rights!” let me say to you: he doesn’t even have to play! He can (and will) just sit in the locker room. He came back to Nashville from the New York Rangers in exchange for the coveted seventh-round draft pick and rode in on a golden chariot. We were told the smiles he brought the team were incredible. Smiles—you can’t put a price on that.

You don’t win Stanley Cups with skill…you win them with smiles.

Look, I’m not saying this is going to happen, but any level-headed GM would see this as very freeing. Pittsburgh would be able to move on from their “Crosby Experiment” and free up precious cap space to make a run at Artemi Panarin or Kevin Fiala. Fiala, after all, broke the Chicago Blackhawks…is it possible he can fix the broken Penguins?
New York, Old Problems

Before the virtual ink had dried on the virtual page, a new suitor entered into the P.K. Subban sweepstakes, as what appears to be a clickbait site threw the New York Rangers’ hat into the ring. Check out the article here…or just take my word for it.

The article reveals what many of us already know—the New York Rangers are just a few moves away from being a Cup contender.

Never mind that they found themselves 20 points from the final wild card spot this season. They are rebuilding, and surely the addition of P.K. Subban will fix all of their many problems. Isn’t rebuilding when you want to take on a 30-year-old All-Star still in the middle of a big contract, after all? What better time could there be to add such a player? The timing is perfect!

In order to not miss out on this opportunity, the team would part with some of their top producers, Kevin Shattenkirk and Neal Pionk…and maybe a draft pick or some AHL prospects. Obviously, this is not the deal the New York Rangers need. Sure, Subban would probably help the Rangers, but by giving up such precious pieces of their team in exchange, they actually stand to lose quite a bit of skill, talent, and scoring.

The combined -31 of the Pionk/Shattenkirk combo will be sorely missed in New York and Subban’s +5 doesn’t even begin to replace numbers with such a high absolute value. (The Rangers’ brass should remind David Poile that “absolute value” definitely means “value, but more emphatically.”)

No, the trade New York needs isn’t quite as obvious to most casual fans, but it jumps right out to me:
Trade Mika Zibanejad

I know what you’re thinking—there’s nothing Nashville can offer to make up for the absence that this would create—but since the original offer was for not just quality, but the highest quality players in Pionk and Shattenkirk, I feel the only fair offer is to send one of Nashville’s best:
Zac Rinaldo

Zac Rinaldo absolutely killed it (not killed anybody! just killed it in general!) in Nashville this year and I think he would bring a lot to the Rangers. Not only is he well-rested, but 100% of his goals were game winning goals. Compare that to Zibanejad’s paltry 17% (and that’s rounding up!) and it appears that not only is Rinaldo the guy to take you the rest of the way to the playoffs, but that Zibanejad was the proverbial albatross around your neck, keeping you from making it.

But Nashville surely doesn’t expect to only get such a small return from New York…remember that seventh-round draft pick they gave you for Cody McLeod? Well, now that he’s headed to Pittsburgh, we’ll need that back.

Cody McLeod Jersey

Cody McLeod played 31 games for the New York Rangers this season. It’s not unreasonable to ask why.

Cody McLeod: Grade D

Our series of New York Rangers report cards includes players who are no longer on the team. For many, the fact that Cody McLeod is no longer a Ranger can be considered a blessing.
His season

There was one thing clear about David Quinn as coach of the Rangers. He values grit and toughness and in Cody McLeod he found it. As a result, McLeod actually got into 31 games this season. He played less than seven minutes a game and scored one goal and had only one point. Let’s say he was outscored by Henrik Lundqvist and Alexandar Georgiev.

What McLeod was good at was taking penalties. He led the team in penalty minutes per game (1:56) and his 60 minutes in penalties was third on the team though Tony DeAngelo’s team-leading 77 minutes came in twice the number of games.

He led the team with six fighting majors and he was sixth on the team with 96 hits. He was the very definition of sandpaper. One problem with sandpaper is that referees are on the lookout for it. With his notoriety, McLeod was called for marginal penalties on his reputation alone, often putting the Rangers at the disadvantage. I made this point in a story in early November:

His lack of discipline was another issue as he took the role of enforcer too literally . That resulted in offsetting penalties or taxing the penalty killers. Ironically, it was a fight he didn’t want to get into that resulted in a broken hand.

The fight came in the same game that McLeod scored his one goal of the season and put him out of action for over a month.

After the injury, McLeod came back to play in 22 more games with the same results. In most of those games his ice time dwindled down to barely four minutes a game and he was definitely a liability.

On February 6 Jeff Gorton did McLeod and the Rangers a favor and traded him back to the Nashville Predators for a seventh round draft pick in 2020. Apparently, Peter Laviolette values grit and toughness too. Oh, McLeod played in seven games for Nashville averaging seven minutes per game and didn’t dress for any playoff games.
Why the grade

I will be the first to admit that I am not a Cody McLeod fan. A failing grade was not out of the question for a player who scored one goal in 31 games, was a minus 10, took unnecessary penalties and hindered the development of his linemates.

There’s no question that on a “soft” team, McLeod brought toughness, but it was his overall lack of hockey ability that hurts him. He’s been replaced in the sandpaper category by Brendan Lemieux, a player with a lot more skill.However, McLeod gets some points for his value as a teammate (he was popular in the dressing room) and his willingness to stand up for his peers. He also gets points for the fact that the Rangers were able to acquire a seventh round draft pick for McLeod, a player they picked up on wiavers.

The list of seventh rounders who actually pan out is pretty short. Mike Mottau (7th round 1997) had a decent career and Todd Marchant (7th round 1993) played 17 years and scored 498 points. Adam Huska, Riley Hughes and Ty Ronning are all currently viable prospects picked in the seventh round. Oh yes, in the 2000 draft, the Rangers selected a pretty good player in the seventh round. He was a little known goalkeeper from Sweden named Henrik Lundqvist.
The numbers

Games: 31
Goals: 1
Assists: 0
Points: 1
PIM: 60
Fighting majors: 6 (most on team)
ATOI: 6:49
PP TOI: 11 seconds (least on team)
SH TOI: 2 seconds (least on team)
Hits: 96
Hits per game: 3.1 (best on the team)
Corsi For: 38.5% (worst on the team w. 15 games played)
Broken Hands: 1

Dante Fabbro Jersey

An ineffective Nashville Predators defense is a big reason why they’re sitting at home earlier than expected. There’s a youngster who can remedy that.

It’s hard to find a whole lot to be excited about from the Nashville Predators’ short-lived playoff run. They were undoubtedly outplayed and outworked by the Dallas Stars. I knew the Stars would bring a tough battle to the Predators, but I never imagined them eliminated the Predators in six games. They do have plenty of pieces on this team that keep me optimistic, and the young Dante Fabbro is one of them.

The Nashville Predators have gone in the wrong direction over the last two seasons, and now they have to turn to some new faces to get this thing back in the right direction. The core of this team needs to stay intact and is still good enough to take this team to its first Stanley Cup. Some tweaks need to be made, and one tweak is seeing Fabbro’s role elevated. He passed the test of being ready for the NHL level. He adapted quickly in the midst of some intense playoff pressure.
How he performed

Fabbro only got four games of NHL experience before being thrust into playoff action. A lot to ask for from a rookie short of his 21st birthday. The result Peter Laviolette saw from his four games of NHL action must have been enough to put him in the playoff lineup. In those four games Fabbro held his own quickly, tallying a goal and registering a Corsi percentage of just under 52. Very impressive for such a young player.

Hope remains that the Nashville Predators have continued to build a strong farm system in Milwaukee with prospects who are ready to take some of the pressure off of having to make big moves in free agency. Fabbro is the centerpiece of that, alongside Eeli Tolvanen. These two figure to make big impacts on next season’s roster that David Poile said still has a “foundation of one of the better teams in the leauge”, per the Predators website. With that said, I expect a major player or two to be moved in the offseason. Possibly a Ryan Ellis or P.K. Subban. Both have moderate trade appeal to other teams and could help the Predators bring in another top-six forward and free up some money.

Fabbro played solid in the playoffs as well. He managed a plus-two on his plus/minus rating and played well defensively with five hits or three blocked shots. His game looked very comfortable and gives me confidence that he will become a major contributor to the Predators next season. His defensive linemate, veteran Dan Hamhuis, came away impressed with Fabbro’s play, per the Nashville Post:

He was composed out there, making plays in high-pressure situations. That’s the player he is and that’s why this team brought him here

Where he fits next season

First off, Fabbro is heading to the 2019 IIHF World Championships to represent Canada beginning May 10. An impressive accomplishment for the youngster. It will be interesting to see how he performs in a tournament that has plenty of Predators representation in it. This is a great thing for Fabbro as he’ll continue to keep his game sharp over the offseason and develop even more before his next season with the Predators.

The biggest key to Fabbro’s role on the team in 2019-20 is if any of the top four defenseman are going to be moved. P.K. Subban has been a focal point of trade rumors, as has Ryan Ellis. Both bring much different variable to the table when it comes to possibly unloading them for a top-six forward. First off, Subban would be the easiest player to move and has a $9 million cap hit next season. Moving him would free up the most money, and it’s nice to know that Fabbro is ready to move up if a slot comes open. However, moving Subban isn’t something I can get on board with. This isn’t a scenario of addition by subtraction. Subban still has Norris Trophy capabilities and brings too many skills to the game to unload him.

I can get much more on board with finding a suitor for Ellis, and I do think there will be some interest out there. His cap hit is smaller than Subban’s at $6.25 million, but his contract runs much longer. I believe he’s hit his ceiling in a Predators uniform. Occasionally helping on the power play, but otherwise just a middle-of-the-road defender. If the Predators end up moving on from Ellis, I like Fabbro moving up to essentially take his spot on the depth chart. It’s going to take Poile working his magic, as he usually does, to move either one of these big contract without shaking up the roster too much.

Fabbro’s emergence as a player who seems ready for the NHL quicker than expected frees the Predators up to be more aggressive this offseason. They have ten games of tape to go off of to feel confident in elevating Fabbro’s role. If he hadn’t looked ready for the NHL level in his ten games, then this would complicate things much more than they already are for Poile. I’m fairly confident that a top-six defender is leaving the Nashville Predators, and that will give Fabbro a much bigger role on this team. I’m excited and optimistic to see him full-time. At least we can mark this young and talented player as one reason to be optimistic about the future.

Eeli Tolvanen Jersey

The Nashville Predators power play was god awful last season, which is why Eeli Tolvanen would be the perfect addition to next year’s roster.

The Nashville Predators prospect had a solid first season on North American ice, scoring 15 goals in the AHL and adding another goal in a four-game stint in the NHL, showing off his true potential.

The 20-year-old possesses an absolutely filthy wrist shot that could absolutely help the Preds this season, which Nashville fans even got to see when Tolvanen scored his first NHL goal on December 1st against the Chicago Blackhawks.

As you can see in the video, Eeli Tolvanen was able to get off a beautiful backhand shot that absolutely stunned Cam Ward to score his first NHL goal.

He was able to get this beautiful shot off within seconds of receiving the pass from Craig Smith, with his back facing the net, and somehow still score that goal.

Tolvanen has a full arsenal when it comes to shooting; a solid wrist shot, slap shot, and other fancy maneuverings that can beat any goaltender he faces, so I think he could be a potential impact player on a Nashville Predators offense that desperately needs him.

The Preds went 0/15 on the powerplay during their first-round series with the Dallas Stars, so there is something that desperately needs to be changed on that unit.

Puck movement was an issue and they weren’t shooting the puck, which is why adding a guy like Eeli Tolvanen to the mix would absolutely help the Nashville Predators powerplay.

Putting him on this powerplay gives the Predators an easy option to pass to and a guy who can put the puck on net and make something happen when the Preds have the man advantage.

The Nashville Predators power play was also poor during the regular season too, as they were dead last in the NHL with a 12.9% power play efficiency, so adding a guy like Tolvanen to the mix can definitely help a Preds team that looked absolutely dead offensively.

The Predators were also a very mediocre goal scoring team, ranking 19th in Goals For/Game with 2.88 and totaling 236 goals this season. Adding an elite goal scorer like Tolvanen to the roster could definitely raise that number.

Tolvanen is good enough to where I can see him score 20 goals in his rookie season, he already looked good during his first stint in the NHL, so it should be time to give him a full-time roster spot.

He could work well on a line with Kyle Turris and Mikael Granlund, two pass-first playmakers who struggled to find success with their assigned linemates last season, especially during the postseason, but Eeli Tolvanen could be the guy to bring life to both of those players.

Putting a guy with an absolutely beautiful shot with guys who are known to amass large assist numbers is a recipe for success, so giving Tolvanen a top-six role in his rookie season shouldn’t be a problem for the Nashville Predators.

Tolvanen is a guy who can fill a lot of the holes the Preds need to be filled, and it won’t come at any cost for the team, so maybe giving him a full-time role on the team wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Grant Mismash Jersey

At the end of Tuesday’s practice, Grant Mismash skated to the neutral zone with UND assistant coach Matt Shaw and began conditioning drills.

He skated from blue line to blue line, weaved between pucks and worked toward getting back into game shape.

Mismash hasn’t played since Jan. 25, when he suffered a knee injury on a knee-to-knee collision with St. Cloud State defenseman Jimmy Schuldt. UND coach Brad Berry feared that the Fighting Hawks may be without the second-round draft pick of the Nashville Predators for the rest of the season.

But that might not be the case.

Mismash is working toward a return. He made it through full practices on Tuesday and Wednesday. He has begun participating in contact drills, too.

Exactly when he’ll be ready to go back into a game is still up in the air. But even if he can’t go this weekend for the regular-season series finale against Omaha (7:37 p.m. Friday, 7:07 p.m. Saturday, Ralph Engelstad Arena), there’s a chance he could come back for the first round of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference playoffs next weekend.

“He’s been skating the whole week here,” Berry said. “He’s gradually coming into contact drills. The situation becomes that he’s been out for six weeks. That’s a long time. You’ve got to make sure you’re setting him up for success — not only conditioning-wise, but also health-wise — as far as making sure he’s ready to go. He’s skating with us, but we’ll make that evaluation in the next day or so as to whether he’ll be available to play this weekend.”

Mismash, who also suffered a different injury in early January, had five goals and nine points in 21 games this season for No. 19 UND.

His presence would be welcome for a team that has often times struggled to generate offensive production, despite ranking No. 2 nationally in puck possession metrics Corsi and Fenwick.

His presence also would be welcome on the power play, where UND is stuck at a 15 percent conversion rate. Mismash is able to play a number of different roles on the power play, both on the point or in the slot.

Jones in; Scheel, Janatuinen out

Berry said he expects UND senior center Nick Jones to play this weekend’s series against Omaha after missing the last four games with a lower-body injury.

Jones traveled to Colorado Springs last week, but was unable to play in either game.

“I feel good,” said Jones, whose family is coming to Grand Forks for the series. “I’m excited for Friday night.”

Jones has five goals and 10 points this season, despite missing 11 games with two separate injuries.

“Up until last year, I had never been injured in my life,” Jones said. “It’s different. This year, it’s been even more frustrating than it was last year. But it comes with playing the sport. It’s exciting to be healthy and be able to get out there and play. It makes you appreciate the game more.”

Another senior, forward Joel Janatuinen, will remain out of the lineup. It is starting to become a longshot for Janatuinen to return to the lineup this season.

The team has not disclosed Janatuinen’s ailment, but it has kept him out of every game since Jan. 5, and has limited him to only a few practices since then.

Janatuinen has played 14 games this season and just one since Thanksgiving weekend. He has one goal and three points.

UND also will play this weekend without starting goalie Adam Scheel, who suffered a knee injury three weeks ago at Western Michigan. Scheel has not yet returned to practice. That means sophomore Peter Thome will start in his spot. Thome is 2-2 with a .928 save percentage and a 1.28 goals-against average since Scheel’s injury.

Last weekend, freshman Harrison Feeney served as Thome’s backup in Colorado Springs.

Matthew O’Connor Jersey

Sweden will try to win a third consecutive gold medal at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, to be held in Slovakia through May 26.

No country has won three straight championships since the Czech Republic from 1999-2001.

Seven players are back for Sweden from last year’s team, including Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who will be the captain. Also returning are defensemen Mattias Ekholm (Nashville Predators), Erik Gustafsson (Chicago Blackhawks) and Adam Larsson (Edmonton Oilers), and forwards Patric Hornqvist (Pittsburgh Penguins), Adrian Kempe (Los Angeles Kings) and Elias Pettersson (Vancouver Canucks).

Sweden is playing preliminary-round games in Group B at Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava, along with Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Norway, Latvia, Austria, Italy and Russia.

Group A, which will play at Steel Arena in Kosice, consists of the United States, Canada, Finland, Germany, Denmark, France, Great Britain and Slovakia. The United States defeated Canada 4-1 last year to win the bronze medal.

All U.S. games will be televised live by NHL Network, which will broadcast more than 30 games throughout the tournament.