We answer your questions in the weekly Predators mailbag.

In this week’s edition of the Nashville Predators mailbag we answer, as always, a number of interesting questions you threw our way. We take a look at what is going on with Ryan Johansen and his lack of offense, the new guy Kyle Turris and who fits best on his line and what the Predators have to do to get an outdoor game.

For those not keeping up, Andrew is simply asking ‘what’s going on with Ryan Johansen?’

Through 15 games this season Johansen has seven assists and zero goals. Through his first 15 games last season he had seven assists and one goal. His point total so far shouldn’t be surprising, but the 25-year-old simply hasn’t been as noticeable offensively this season and there are some numbers that tell us why.

In his first 15 games last season Johansen recorded a total of 30 shots on goal while this season the 25-year-old has managed only 19 with only 12 of those coming during 5-on-5 action. Johansen is not known as a shooter, he’s more of a playmaker, but he is firing the puck on net at a low rate even for his standards. His individual scoring chance numbers have dipped as well from 31 a season ago to only 18 so far this season in all situations.

In summary, his point total so far this season is just one less than it was a year ago at this point, but his lack of shooting the puck is catching everyone’s eye. The fact that he has only one assist over his last six games is also worrying some people out there, but it’s far too early to truly be concerned.

Obviously, one of the most important things to look at here is what style of hockey Kyle Turris plays. He’s a responsible two-way center with great hands and an underrated shot, but he’s also the type of player that likes to carry the puck into the zone rather than dump the puck in. This is a nice change of pace for the Preds as they currently rank last in the NHL at carrying the puck into the zone as opposed to dumping it in according to Mike Kelly.

I don’t believe that splitting up the first-line of Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Viktor Arvidsson is the right move at this point, but that of course could change over time as, really, the entire forward group could get shaken up with this Turris addition and when Nick Bonino gets back in the lineup.

As for who may fit best alongside Turris? I think it’s who he practiced alongside on Thursday and that is Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith. That trio makes up a pretty flashy and skilled group that could really compliment well off of one another. You’ve got Fiala who has the hands and skating ability and you would have Smith who can skate with anyone and is always ready to shoot the puck. Turris could be the center to really jumpstart those two guys and the skill on that line alone behind the Johansen, Forsberg and Arvidsson line could be lethal.

It hasn’t yet been made official, but the NHL is expected to announce that the Chicago Blackhawks will take on the Boston Bruins in the 2019 Winter Classic at Notre Dame Stadium.

It feels like the 49th outdoor game featuring the ‘Hawks, but realistically it will only be their league leading fourth Winter Classic and sixth outdoor game since 2009. Eight teams have never played an outdoor game and one of those teams is the Predators.

The criteria so far to play in an outdoor game has pretty much been be an original six team or a team located in Canada. I think Nashville’s run to the Stanley Cup Final last season, the city turning gold and the very marketable players such as P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Filip Forsberg and Pekka Rinne currently on the roster fit some criteria guidelines, but only time will tell if the Preds ever land an outdoor game.

If the NHL insists on giving Chicago all of these outdoor games, it would make sense for them to fix up a meeting between the Blackhawks and Predators as that rivalry has truly turned into a ‘real rivalry’ whether Chicago fans want to admit it or not. You could host the game at Nissan Stadium in Nashville or Soldier Field in Chicago easily. I think an outdoor game in Nashville between the Preds and a number of other East Coast teams would be great as well such as the Lightning or Hurricanes.


Stats via Natural Stat Trick.

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