"At forward, we're going to be much improved," Poile said. "The reason is that we're going to have our first line intact for the whole season ... and that's something we didn't have last year.
I think there is a lot of truth to this. We forget how good Dumont-Arnott-Sullivan were together when healthy. They showed us some of that again last year. They can be pretty dominant. With that line clicking, we can be a totally different team. A Legwand-Erat tandem can be effective IF the top line is healthy AND they find someone that is suitable for that line. Ward seemed to be okay in that role. Ideally we will have someone else fill the second line wing role. If that is Jones, or if Wilson takes the second line center with Legwand on the wing, or some other derivation of this with O'Reilly/Santorelli - so be it.
A healthy lineup is what we have to have. Last year, it seemed like we had two of our top 6 forwards down at the same time virtually all year. This killed us. For us to excel, this can't happen. Additionally, Erat is going to have to go back a season in how he played. Last year, he reverted more to a selfish do it yourself attitude. He will always play this way, but when he uses his one-timer and slapper more, as well as not cycling by himself QUITE as frequently, he can be a 65 point player in my mind.
The Predators aren't ... sexy. They're just ... the Predators, a 10-year-old expansion team still trying to make waves, still trying to nail down a loyal fan base in a non-traditional hockey market. Unfortunate, yes, that they have to contend in the Central Division with Original Six powers Chicago and Detroit, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the new darlings of the Central Division, and the young and extremely talented St. Louis Blues.
No kidding....You really have to question how we are in this division to begin with.....Oh well, what's done is done. We have had adversity against this team from day 1, and to get to the Cup, we are going to have to work harder than any other team.
"In the years I've run the draft, since 2003, the only one year I directed to draft for a specific purpose was 2003, with five defensemen in our first seven picks," Fenton said. "This time around, we wanted to address forwards and size. That being said, with the special qualities that (Ryan) Ellis has we couldn't let that go by. With the ability to run a power play and the new game that we're playing so to speak, special teams play a large role. We couldn't pass on him. He's an elite power play specialist."
"(Charles-Olivier) Roussel was very high on our list. Our area scout was very, very high on him, so we couldn't pass on him. With our abundance of picks it allowed us to go for forwards until we got to Ekholm (in the fourth round)."
Something that should be mentioned is that Dumont and Erat in particular had very down years last year. I think Dumont's issue was that he was being forced to be a "playmaker," working on a line where there really wasn't a true setup guy. I don't think that's a role that suits him. He's more of a goal scorer...and you saw improvement in his game when Sullivan came back and could be the guy on that line to carry the puck and get the play set up.
As for Erat...I'm not really sure what the issue was. He was plagued with the same issue that makes us all tear our hair out...he doesn't know when to shoot. He's officially the highest paid player on the team as of this season...it's time to justify it.
If those two guys put it together, I think that could provide a significant amount of offensive boost that a lot of us are overlooking.