In advance of tonight's game against the Colorado Avalanche, the Predators have called up Ryan Jones.
Jones had 3 goals and 3 assists in 16 games the first time around in Nashville. Since being reassigned to Milwaukee on November 20th, Jones has tallied 11 goals and 6 assists, and was a main reason for Milwaukee's December surge in the standings.
No word yet on who will be sent down to make room on the roster. The most logical is Antti Philstrom, since he does not need to clear waivers.
Whoever they send down is likely to step right into Jones' slot alongside Mike Santorelli on the Admirals' top line.
If I was the GM of the Predators (which I am not, and I realize that Poile >>>>>>>>>>> than anything I would ever be GM wise.) Anyways, if I was GM, I probably would have jettisoned off Koistenen and possibly DeVries (lets say just Koistenen for now), put Sulzer in the lineup with Klein on a nightly basis, called up Santorelli/Jones/Pihlstrom, and wave goodbye to Smithson.
With Sullivan back:
Sullivan - Arnott - Dumont
Jones - Legwand - Erat
Pihlstrom - Santorelli - Ward
Fiddler - Bonk - Tootoo
Bench: Belak, Peverly
IR - Nichol
Weber - Suter
Hamhuis - Zanon or Devries
Klein - Sulzer (or Zanon)
Bench - Zanon or Devries.....time to give the kids time to play
Obviously Bonk is the best faceoff guy on the team, and he is being relatively wasted on the fourth line. Then again, he hasn't scored in 30+ games, is not very good at ES anymore, and is not the shutdown guy he used to be. Put him on the fourth line except in critical faceoff situations (at which point, you yank him off the ice immediately). The third line could be vulnerable defensively, but then again, it is definitely better than what we have right now. Ward is the perfect third line forward. I think he would excel here. Pihlstrom would give Santorelli a guy he is used to playing with, and allow that duo to have some offensive pop. The good thing about this line is that it isn't a complete offensive dud without speed....it has some speed (Pihlstrom), some responsiblity (Ward), and some creativity (Santorelli) - all three would be hungry to play. I'm not sure what to do with Peverly, but I honestly do not see why it would hurt to lose him on waivers. He really isn't anything special from my perspective. He isn't a third/fourth line player, and he is not even an average replacement level player on the top 2 lines....Waive him or trade him - I could care less.
Is this lineup perfect? Heck no. It could be tweaked by better hockey minds than me, but it least it is more competitive than what we have right now. It will be interesting to see how Sully comes back and how Jones performs. Regardless, this is the season to play the youngsters. Why are we wasting valuable developmental time to give guys like Smithson/Fiddler more ice time???? They are career 3/4th line guys who are not going to succeed in a scoring role no matter how many times we put them there (see Tootoo, Jordin; Bonk, Radek; Nichol, Scott; etc.)
Why call up Santorelli, Jones, Sulzer, Pihlstrom? Why not Hornqvist as well? To the first, I say why not? What left do they have to prove in the AHL. Give them time in the NHL where they will truly develop. As I mentioned above, why are we wasting roster spots on scrubs and fringe role-players? We are struggling right now, and we have talent that is languishing in the minors. Lets see what they can do. If it fails, you really lose nothing. We really can't fall much farther in the standings, and the players we would lose (Smithson or Peverly) are honestly a dime a dozen. The only reason that I say to let Hornqvist remain in the AHL at this point is because I think he will benefit the most from staying in the AHL, and you cannot simply throw that many rookies into the lineup at once. I wouldn't mind seeing him back here in Nashville, and I am sure it is possible to find a spot for him in the above lineup if you are creative enough (I am not !).
As for veteran leadership - I want it just as much as the next guy. I was not opposed to the Bonk/Devries signings. I am not opposed to keeping them here, but at some point you have to decide if veteran leadership is worth the 3.75 million we are paying them, worth the cost of developmental time, and frankly, worth relatively substandard play (the faceoff crown aside from Bonk).
Glad to see the Preds make a move. Hopefully, Jones will help.
Not sure about the impact to the Ads lines though, since in the last half dozen or so games, Hörnqvist and Ortmeyer have been playing with Santorelli and Jones has been playing with O’Reilly and Jessiman 5 on 5. And while Jones and Santorelli had been playing on the first PP unit while Hörnqvist and O’Reilly played together on the 2nd PP unit, in the half dozen or so most recent games Hörnqvist has been playing on the first PP unit with Jones and Santorelli. And often they have played four forwards with O’Reilly also joining them on the first unit.