The Nashville Predators 2019-20 season has come to a grinding halt, along with the rest of the sports world. Thanks to COVID-19, it’s probably going to be quite some time before the Predators, or any NHL team, play another game. While the future is uncertain, it doesn’t mean we can’t look back on the season up to this point.
In this article, I will give each Predators player a letter grade based on their performance so far this season. I will only grade players who have played at least 25 games, otherwise the sample size is too small. Also, grades will be given based on performance vs expectations. Example: a 4th liner isn’t going to get a D just because they only have 10 points on the year. They’re a 4th liner, that’s expected. But if a 1st liner only had 10 points, that’s a total failure. Anyway, enough explaining, let’s get started.
G Pekka Rinne– D+
2019-20 was the worst season of Pekka Rinne’s career. He had 35 starts, an 18-14-4 record, a 3.17 goals against average, and a .895 save percentage. His save percentage and goals against were career worsts since becoming the starter. Rinne is a legend, but Father Time has caught up to the 37 year old. He’s probably done as an NHL starting goalie.
G Juuse Saros– B+
Juuse Saros has taken over the starting goalie job in Nashville. He started 34 games, earning a 17-12-4 record, 2.70 goals against average, and a .914 save percentage. He was the far better goalie this season, especially down the stretch. Saros had to play a more important role than originally hoped, but for the most part, he was up to the task.
D Roman Josi– A
Roman Josi was the Predator’s best player by far. He should be one of the three finalists for the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defenseman this year. 2019-20 was the best season of the captain’s career. He played 69 games, scoring 16 goals, 49 assists, 65 points, and earning a +22 plus/minus rating. His 16 goals, 49 assists, and 65 points are all career highs for Josi.
D Ryan Ellis– A-
Ryan Ellis missed significant time with injury, but was fantastic when he was in the lineup. In 49 games, Ellis scored eight goals, and 30 assists for 38 points. Also, he was rock solid defensively with a +16 plus/minus rating. Can’t complain at all about Ellis’ performance this season.
D Mattias Ekholm– C+
Mattias Ekholm had a bit of a down year this season. His statistics weren’t terrible: 68 games played, eight goals, 25 assists, 33 points, and a -1 plus/minus rating. However, Ekholm didn’t look like himself through much of this season, especially defensively. He is normally a heavy plus player (+27 last season, +25 the year before), but was -1 this year. Ekholm wasn’t bad, but he definitely wasn’t as good as he was expected to be, particularly in his own end.
D Dante Fabbro– C-
Dante Fabbro had too much pressure put on him as a 21 year old rookie this season. Asking a rookie defenseman to step in and be a top four player is a bit much. However, I thought he would be better than this. He played 64 games, scoring just five goals, six assists, and 11 points. He was also -7. Fabbro still has some developing to do, but he is still a solid young defenseman. In time, he is going to be an impact player for the Predators.
D Dan Hamhuis– C
Dan Hamhuis gets a lot of flak from fans, but he wasn’t nearly as bad as some people made it seem. Hamhuis is a 37 year old depth defenseman. How much do you want from him? His job is to be a solid veteran presence in a limited role. Now Hamhuis certainly didn’t have a great year, but it wasn’t a total failure either. He played 60 games, scoring no goals and eight assists for eight points. He doesn’t really add anything offensively anymore, but he did have a +6 rating this season. It was an average year for an aging defenseman, not a terrible one.
D Yannick Weber– C
Yannick Weber is a depth defenseman that plays a 6th or 7th man role. In 41 games, he scored one goal, two assists, and three points. His plus/minus was -1. Weber had a very average season for a depth defenseman.
D Jarred Tinordi– B
Jarred Tinordi actually performed pretty well when given the chance with Nashville. He spent much of the year in the AHL, but in 27 NHL games, he scored one goal, four assists, five points, and a plus/minus of -1. Tinordi is a big rugged defenseman who is not afraid to play physically. That element was much needed in the Predator’s lineup and Tinordi brought it fairly effectively. Not a bad season for a guy who probably expected to be in the AHL all year.
F Ryan Johansen– C-
It was a tough year for Ryan Johansen. Just 14 goals, 22 assists, and 36 points for a top six center is not going to cut it. He was also a minus player (-5) for the first time since coming to Nashville. 36 points isn’t abysmal, but this is a guy who should be in the 55-65 point range. Not the biggest under performer on the team, but a below average season from Johansen.
F Filip Forsberg– B-
Filip Forsberg certainly did not produce as much offensively as he has in the past, but almost no one did this season for the Predators. Forsberg was still one of the team’s best players. He led the team in goals (21) and points (48). Actually, he was the only 20 goal scorer for the Preds this year. Forsberg finished with 63 games played, 21 goals, 27 assists, 48 points, and a -7 rating. Nothing spectacular, but it was an okay season given how the team performed overall.
F Matt Duchene– D
Ouch! There’s no sugarcoating this; Matt Duchene was a massive disappointment in his first season with the Predators. The huge free agent signing played 66 games and only scored 13 goals, 29 assists, and 42 points to go along with his -4 rating. $8 million a year for just 42 points? Ouch! A team is looking for 70+ points for that kind of money. He needs to have a bounce back season in 2020-21.
F Kyle Turris– D+
Kyle Turris never really fit in Nashville, and this season was no exception. Since coming over from Ottawa, Turris has largely been a disappointment. After proving himself to be a 50-60 point scorer with the Senators, his offensive production has fallen flat with the Predators. His first season wasn’t bad with 42 points in 65 games on a brand new team, but it’s been all down hill from there. He scored just 23 points in 2018-19. His stat line from this season reads 62 games played, nine goals, 22 assists, 31 points, and -9 rating. The Predators really need to try to trade this guy.
F Viktor Arvidsson– C-
Viktor Arvidsson’s season was once again impacted by injury. He was limited to just 57 games, scoring 15 goals, 13 assists, 28 points, and a -4 rating. It was a very meh season for Arvidsson who was a far cry away from his usual 30 goal self.
F Craig Smith– B+
Craig Smith actually had a pretty decent year for the Preds. He was a solid secondary scorer with 18 goals, 13 assists, and 31 points. He also led all forwards in plus/minus at +18. It wasn’t Smith’s best season of his career, but he produced quite well on an largely offensively challenged team.
F Mikael Granlund– C-
Mikael Granlund did not have a great year. He’s getting paid like a 50-60 point scorer. He had multiple 60+ point seasons in Minnesota. He had 54 points last season. Now, in his first full year with the Predators, Granlund only managed 30 points in 63 games. Not great! Granlund scored just 17 goals, and 13 assists, for 30 points, and a -4 rating in 2019-20.
F Nick Bonino– A-
Nick Bonino is one of the best third line centers in the NHL and he proved it again this season. Bonino continued to produce very well from his depth role. He scored 18 goals, 17 assists, 35 points, and was +17 in 67 games this year. His 35 points matched his total from last season, but he did it in 14 less games. Bonino was one of the Predator’s best players all season long. He was a big time bright spot on a team that didn’t have many this season.
F Calle Jarnkrok– A-
Calle Jarnkrok is another depth player who had a pretty darn good season this year. He scored 15 goals, 19 assists, 34 points, and was +4 in 64 games. Not too shabby for a secondary scorer on a team that struggled offensively for much of the season. Predators fans can’t complain about what Jarnkrok provided this season.
F Rocco Grimaldi– B+
Rocco Grimaldi is another depth player who had a solid season for the Predators. In 63 games, he scored 10 goals, 21 assists, 31 points, and was +10 on the year. This was certainly Grimaldi’s best NHL season to date, and he’ll look to build off of it and produce even more next year.
F Austin Watson– C
2019-20 was a very meh year for Austin Watson. He still provided the physicality and toughness one would expect, but didn’t do a whole lot offensively. Watson is a guy who has the ability to score 10-15 goals and 20-25 points. However, he only scored six goals, eight assists, and 14 points in 53 games this season. He had more goals, assists, and points last season, in only 37 games. Watson wasn’t bad, but he has more to give.
F Colton Sissons– C-
It was a down year for Colton Sissons to say the least. After having 25-30 points each of the past two seasons, Sissons managed just 15 points in 57 games this year. His full stat line reads 57 games played, nine goals, six assists, 15 points, and a -2 rating. Not quite the level of depth production expected from a pretty good bottom six player. Hopefully he’s better next year.
F Colin Blackwell– B+
Colin Blackwell only played 27 games in the NHL this year, but he made the most of his opportunities. He became a pretty good bottom six forward with three goals, seven assists, and ten points in those 27 games. He also kept a positive plus/minus rating at +7. Blackwell looks like a solid young forward for the Preds, and he should be a regular in the lineup going forward.
So there they are. My grades for each player that played at least 25 games for the Predators this season and is still on the team (hence no Matt Irwin). The Predators as a whole had a fairly disappointing season this year, and the player grades reflect that. Look at how many C’s and D’s there are compared to A’s and B’s. The Predator’s top players especially struggled for the most part. Many of the good grades came from depth players. It wasn’t all bad from the Predator’s this season, but there wasn’t a ton of good either. It was a very meh season for many players. That is why the Predators are awaiting the return of the NHL sitting on the playoff bubble and not competing for the division lead.
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