After Thursday’s big 3-0 win over the Winnipeg Jets, I asked Ryan Johansen if his goal in the 3rd period was his nicest since becoming a member of the Nashville Predators.

“Uhh… Sure, yeah.”

It wasn’t exactly the reply I was expecting, but then again, nothing is ever as expected when it comes to Ryan Johansen.

Take for instance, Johansen’s comment to writer Robby Stanley after Saturday’s 5-2 win over the New York Islanders. Here’s the exchange as Robby remembered it:

Johansen was of course referring to the criticism the Preds’ power play has received as of late. And even though Joey had nothing to do with the power play goal Kyle Turris scored to make it 5-2 in the 3rd period, that didn’t stop him from drawing a laugh about the Preds’ power play.

A power play which is now 2-for-17 on the season and sometimes looks like it can’t even get the puck in the zone.

But hey, Johansen is right. All you gotta do is score.

The good news for Johansen, and the Preds, is that he is playing some of the best hockey on the team right now. With four points (one goal, three assists) in his first five games, Johansen looks every bit of the top line center they need him to be.

He does so many things on the ice that very few players can do in the NHL. He can enter the zone cleanly with possession of the puck, he can hold on to the puck despite defensive pressure, and he has the vision to get the puck to dangerous shooters in areas where they can succeed.

Johansen did all of these things well in Saturday night’s win. Take a look at these two passes that led directly to Predators goals.

This is what great centers do. They create space for other players and hold the puck in dangerous areas, creating offense by occupying space and using their vision.

Sidney Crosby, Joe Thornton, Patrice Bergeron, Connor McDavid. They all do this.

Here’s hoping Ryan Johansen keeps it up.

GIF Me That Good Stuff

Let’s go with two this week. First, this wonderful save by the post.

And then this pass by Johansen. I can’t get over how effortless and perfect it is.

This Week’s Numbers

  • 50 – The number of career starts for Juuse Saros as of last Saturday. He’s got a .923 save percentage in that time and 23 career wins.
  • 150 – Career goals for Kyle Turris, only 14 of those with Nashville.
  • 58 – That’s the number of games with 5 or more Preds goals scored in the Laviolette era. The Preds are 57-0-1 in those games.

That last one is pretty impressive when you think about it. The Preds are a 98% lock to win the game when they score five or more goals. Not every team can claim that.

Let’s Do That Hockey

First Canadian road trip of the season later this week.

Monday 10/15 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs. Wild [FS-TN]

Friday 10/19 – 8:00 PM: Predators @ Flames [FS-TN]

Saturday 10/20 – 9:00 PM: Predators @ Oilers [FS-TN]

Final Thought

There were “rumors” floating around this week that the Leafs and Preds could be working on a deal to send William Nylander to Nashville in exchange for a top four defenseman.

Let’s just end this right here: these were neither legitimate talks nor even rumors. These were the random thoughts of a writer with nothing better to do with his time. It was a trade bait article at best.

While it is true that David Poile is known for letting loose on some wild trades at the last minute, there is almost nothing suggesting that Poile is either shopping a defenseman or looking to add to the forward corps.

Nashville Predators William Nylander P.K. Subban
William Nylander scored a goal in the Leafs’ 5-2 win in Nashvile in March 2018. Image via USA Today

Here’s what we do know.

William Nylander is an excellent young forward. He’s amassed two 60-point seasons at age 20 and 21. The Leafs and Nylander have not made progress on a contract. He’s an RFA and a team could easily lock him up for a friendly long term deal, assuming his rights are traded.

The Predators have a group of four very attractive defensemen. With the looming expansion draft in Seattle, they will likely only be able to keep three of these. And they have to make that decision by 2020.

But this trade? Now? Nylander for Subban or Josi? It just doesn’t make sense.

While some of this depends on what the next contract for Roman Josi looks like, the Nashville Predators would best be served by waiting to see what kind of market there is for a defensemen over the summer or during the 2019-20 season.

— Featured image via USA Today — 

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