The Nashville Predators may have lost both preseason games against the Florida Panthers over the weekend. But what head coach John Hynes is looking for can’t be measured simply in wins and losses.
Hynes, who is running his first real training camp in three seasons as Predators’ coach, is tasked with “competitively rebuilding” a franchise that has seen perhaps its greatest level of turnover since its 2017 Stanley Cup Final run.
“I may [have an idea of camp standouts] after we kind of digest the games,” Hynes said. “But it was great to have an opportunity to see a lot of guys play in live action; you use guys in different situations ... that they have an opportunity to play in. It could be a D-pairing, guys playing winger/center, a couple combinations of who looks good on certain special teams. So, I think it was a really good evaluation.”
The Predators cleaned house during the offseason and shifted toward a youth-infused roster with an average age 26. Gone are Viktor Arvidsson (28), Ryan Ellis (30), Calle Jarnkrok (30), Pekka Rinne (38), Brad Richardson (36) and Erik Haula (30).
Fortunately for the Predators, their pipeline is stocked with NHL-ready talent, with many players standing a good chance of seeing significant playing time this season. Among them is top prospect Philip Tomasino, who played 21:30 in Nashville’s 3-1 loss against Florida on Saturday.
The 20-year-old Tomasino, who had 3:13 of ice time on the power play, is expected to compete for a top-six role with the Predators this season. He had 13 goals and 32 points in 29 games with the Chicago Wolves last season, making the AHL’s All-Rookie team.
“It’s nice playing with him,” said forward Nick Cousins, who played with Tomasino against the Panthers. “He sees the ice so well; he’s fast. I feel like he’s underrated strong on the puck. He’s good on face-offs too. He’s fun to play with [and] he’s got high-end skill. What he has, you can’t teach.”
While Tomasino has a better than 50/50 chance of making Nashville’s opening-night roster, defenseman David Farrance faces tougher odds. Farrance has the unfortunate disadvantage of playing at the Predators' position of greatest strength, and the 22-year-old has at least four NHL-caliber blueliners ahead of him in the pecking order.
However, Farrance is doing all the right things and the poise he has shown running the Predators defense is turning a few heads. Farrance registered one shot, blocked a shot, played 19:59 and quarterbacked the power play for 3:30 against Florida.
“David Farrance [also] caught my eye,” Cousins continued. “He’s pretty smooth back there. He made plays, he looked good on the power play and he looks confident.”
Other preseason notables:
Egor Afanasyev: one goal, 13:59 ice time
Tanner Jeannot: two goals, one assist, four shots, 20:32 ice time
Rem Pitlick: one goal, two shots, 17:10 ice time
Yakov Trenin: one goal, one assist, 19:40 ice time
Jeremy Davies: two assists, +3 rating, three shots, 22:00 ice time
Connor Ingram: 20 saves, .952 save percentage
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