December 31-in-31: Nashville Predators

Nicholas Kawka

2020-12-17

With the Stanley Cup window still in sight, the Predators had high hopes for the 2019-20 season. The addition of Matt Duchene to the offence, the increased role of Juuse Saros in the crease and Dante Fabbro graduating to the pro game appeared to be major steps forward toward another strong campaign in the music city. Unfortunately, what resulted was uncharacteristic defensive play, eye-opening goals against numbers, a coach being fired and more of a two steps back rather than a two steps forward result. A significant injury to Viktor Arvidsson was just salt in the wound in a season where the Predators appeared to lose their identity and were looking for answers. The steady play of Norris Trophy-winning Roman Josi along with a late-season surge propelled the team back into the playoff picture all to be halted by the Covid-19 shutdown. The team never regained momentum and saw an early play in round exit once NHL play resumed.  

 

While landing some steady pieces in the draft, free agency came and went and solid depth options ended up signing new deals elsewhere. Nashville may not have met expectations, but Milwaukee certainly did. The Admirals were at the top of the AHL standings for much of the 2019-20 season, ultimately making management look to their own talent to promote within.

 

Risers

 

David Farrance

The Boston University defender erupted this past season. He doubled his point total from the previous and led the Terriers in scoring. Despite his newfound fantasy hockey relevance, Farrance was a treat to watch carrying the puck often and transitioning from defence to offence with ease. He opted to play in his final year of NCAA eligibility, so Predators fans may be feeling some nerves, but given the organizational depth in the AHL, sticking around for one more season will only give Farrance the additional reps he needs to really solidify his game.

 

Rem Pitlick

Pitlick came off a stellar season at the University of Minnesota and stepped right into the Milwaukee lineup ready to contribute. His 20 goals as a rookie caught the attention of many and his ability to play a harder brand of hockey spotlighted his versatility. He has a strong frame and has a real knack for finding open lanes to let off his quick release. Pitlick may see NHL time in the near future.

 

Connor Ingram

After being acquired from Tampa Bay as somewhat of a throw away, Ingram relished the opportunity in the Nashville system this past season. While Milwaukee was a solid defensive squad led by a strong veteran presence, Ingram earned the starting role and capitalized in the moment posting tremendous statistical numbers. Still only 23 years old, Ingram has good size and should soon be ripe enough to make his mark at the next level. He has risen up the depth chart in a hurry.

 

Fallers

 

Tomas Vomacka

In a season where Vomacka was looking to take a step forward, he and the University of Connecticut experienced much of the same. Mediocrity in the standings and up and down results made for somewhat of a rollercoaster season where the team just couldn’t find it’s groove and neither could Vomacka. It’s hard to pinpoint the success of a team solely on goaltending, but it could have been a real opportunity for Vomacka to grab the reins to take over games and be a difference maker. With the addition of Askarov to the depth chart, it will only make things harder for Vomacka to breakthrough in the long-term.

 

Lukas Craggs

Fresh off an NCAA season where Craggs was a staple physical presence, he was unable to sustain a similar type of game in the AHL. After a short ti