When any team goes through transition and relies on their younger players to help lay a new foundation, there will always be some growing pains that test both the fans’ and teams’ patience. For the Nashville Predators, this is no different.
Eeli Tolvanen and Philip Tomasino have been two of the team’s most highly anticipated youngsters for a long time now, and it still has not gone as planned for them. Things have been a little smoother for Tomasino in his first year, but Tolvanen is already in his second and could be entering bust territory if he does not turn it around in year three.
But when you flip to the defensive side of things, it is looking much less murky. In particular, one player is showing that he is going to be a key piece for a long time.
Alexandre Carrier has been exactly what Nashville Predators wanted
Carrier is a player who has caught the eyes of many Predators fans over the last month and change. There is not an area of his game that we cannot say has gotten better and better since he came into the league full time.
Offensively, he has more and more comfortably joined the attack on multiple occasions. His two goals and 26 assists in 68 games are not going to knock your socks off, but for someone like him, the stat sheet is not that important. He is making great decisions with the puck on his stick, and that is what matters right now.
Defensively, he has been in the right place at the right time and done well to neutralize chances for the opposition. Carrier is someone whose specialty was supposed to be being a really solid player at both ends of the ice, and based on what we have seen from him, he is certainly living up to expectations.
The Predators have always made a killing off of their stacked defense, always having two quality pairings to make themselves one of the most feared units in the NHL. Thanks to the early strides Carrier is making, it looks like they will be able to do that for many more years to come.
Does this mean that the fans should have more faith that Tolvanen and Tomasino develop properly? Not yet.
The Predators have historically done much better at developing defensemen than they have at developing forwards and based on Tolvanen’s regression since his injury last year, it makes sense that they are having such troubles. He and Tomasino are two of the most talented forwards that the team has ever drafted, but it does not mean that the team will have any easier of a time getting him ready for the NHL, just look at Kevin Fiala.
If there is any player who Carrier’s development should give real encouragement for, it is David Farrance. His skill speaks for itself, and looking at the history that the Predators have had with defensemen, he could develop into one of the best in the league as he hits his prime.
It also calls into question what is going to happen with all of the blueliners on the Predators’ roster, because not all of them can play big minutes, and most of them are going to want to at some point or another. What we do know is that Carrier is going to be one of the guys who is relied on for a long time, as has always been expected of him.
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