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Scouting the Central - Minnesota

September 13, 2018, 2:26 PM ET [1 Comments]
Paul McCann
Nashville Predators Blogger •Predators Radio Network • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The fifth in a series of Central Division teams and what they have done (or not done) to improve themselves in the offseason. I started at the bottom of the division and am working my way up. Next up, last season’s third place team… the Minnesota Wild.

Last Season – 45-26-11– 101 points… finished 3rd in the Central Division, 4th in the Western Conference. Fourth seed in the Western Conference, lost to Winnipeg in the first round for their third consecutive first round exit.

Key stat from last season – 42 – Yes, I know it is the answer to Life the Universe and Everything… but it is also the number of goals from Eric Staal, and the number of games played by Zach Parise. One needs to happen again and one does not.

Subtractions - GM Chuck Fletcher, F Tyler Ennis, F Daniel Winnik, F Matt Cullen

Additions - GM Paul Fenton, F Eric Fehr, G Andrew Hammond, D Greg Pateryn

The BIG Question - How long of a leash does Bruce Boudreau have? As Boudreau enters year three of his contract, you have to ask the question. This team continues to underachieve and with the money being spent, results are expected by team owner Craig Leipold.

2018/19 Outlook - They can’t be injured as much as last year can they? Key injuries to key players killed this team. There is plenty of talent on this team and quite a bit bubbling under in their farm system, they have players like Charlie Coyle and Nino Neiderreiter. They have veterans in almost every position, but health is an issue. Zach Parise had back surgery last year, then proceeded to get back into the lineup and promptly broke his sternum (ouch!) This team has done well in the regular season but has flamed out in the playoffs and I don’t know why.

The Wild may not have improved enough to keep up in the Central, however, Bruce Boudreau certainly knows how to get a team into the playoffs… beyond that… who knows?

Best Case/Worst Case - Best case for the Wild is that they come back fully healthy and stay that way for the majority of the season. They also will need to figure out how to replace Eric Staals goals as I don’t know if he has another 42 goal season in him. If Staal gets close to 42 again and the team stays fairly healthy… they should make the playoffs again. Worst case is that Ryan Suter isn’t ready for opening night, Zach Parise has trouble recovering from the broken sternum and Devan Dubnyk continues his slow but steady decline in performance… he is still good, but he needs to be great for this team to make a serious run. If that happens and the kids don’t take the next step, this team could be passed by.

Next up, the Winnipeg Jets.

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The expected Austin Watson suspension was announced yesterday. 27 games. NHL Commish Gary Bettman was quoted in the press release “Today’s ruling, while tailored to the specific facts of this case and the individuals involved, is necessary and consistent with the NHL’s strongly held view that it cannot and will not tolerate this and similar types of conduct.”

The normal amount of judgement and bickering about the length and severity of the punishment will go on. I have no quibble with the length of the suspension. I do think it is high time the NHL puts in place a domestic violence policy. The absence of that is a bit striking as the NHL is the only one of the four major sports leagues without one. I actually was surprised by that fact when this situation broke back in July.

I can only hope that Watson has learned his lesson from this. His story could be a powerful one to share with the AMEND Together program… an object lesson to men and boys that this type of violence is a line easily crossed, and harshly punished. This is a crossroads for Watson, an opportunity to take his involvement in AMEND Together to the next level, to go from mere participant in the program to (as Tennessean columnist Joe Rexrode said) “the most active and vocal crusader against domestic violence in Nashville.”

It’s an admirable and lofty goal and one that Austin Watson needs to adopt and strive for.

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Random Notes

- The rookies/prospects finished up in Florida with a oss to Washington, but Eeli Tolvanen broke through with two goals.

- Training Camp officially opens today. The first scrimmage will be Sunday afternoon at Ford Ice Center. I will be on the mic to announce the game. Puck drop at 2pm.

- The first on ice practice is Saturday at Centennial.

- Dan Hamhuis has picked a new number, he will be wearing 5 this season for Nashville.

- The Predators first “Weekend of Giving” raised over $270.000 across four events.

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We are very excited to announce an event to benefit Best Buddies of Tennessee… It’s a Murder Mystery specifically written for this event called Five for Murder! This is presented by The Murder Mystery Company , the nationwide leader in mystery-themed entertainment. Our presenting sponsors are SlapShot Radio and by Jackalope Brewing Company.

So, what’s the story? The hockey community is rocked when a high-profile hockey personality is found dead! Now it is up to you and your teammates to find the ice-cold killer… and put him in the penalty box – for life!

If you ever wanted to take part in a live game of Clue, this is your chance!

Join us for a hockey-themed murder mystery show where guests will enjoy an evening full of fun, food, drinks, and a chance to meet some Predators personalities. Throughout the night, the plot will unfold and we need your help to solve the mystery! Guests will get to interrogate suspects, gather clues and work with their team to crack the case before the suspect gets away.

All proceeds benefit Best Buddies programs devoted to changing the world for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities through meaningful one-to-one friendships and supported employment.

This will be a show you won’t want to miss, so grab your tickets today… click here to get your tickets.

The details…
When? Friday, October 12, 2018
6–7 pm: VIP Reception (early access and seat choice, meet and great with the cast and Predators personalities)
7 pm: Doors open for General Admission
8–10 pm: Show

Where? The Barn at Chavis 4054 Wilson Pike Franklin, TN 37067

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SlapShot Radio’s is now prepping for it’s 11th season. As the longest running hockey show in the region, SSR feeds hockey fans what they crave… intelligent, fun, entertaining talk about their favorite sport and we do it from the opening of training camp all the way through UFA day. We are on every Wednesday night on the Predators flagship station, 102.5 the Game. We debut our 11th season on September 26th.

We have been delivering great hockey talk to the most energetic and engaged fans in radio and advertising with us drives results at a reasonable price. Just ask our sponsors… including day one sponsor Dr. Jane Bacon at Hermitage Family and Cosmetic Dentistry … make your appointment at (615) 872-7762 and Patrick J. Brown’s Farmer Insurance Agency in Mt. Juliet… I switched to them a few years back and their service has been incredible! Give Pat and his team a call at 615-288-2086.

Advertisers… reach out to me in order to access our activated listener base though great preseason advertising deals available for our eleventh season. You can send me a message on the SlapShot Radio Facebook page or by messaging me right here on HockeyBuzz.

You can also keep up with all the goings on with SlapShot Radio by following the show on Twitter @SlapShotRadio1 … Also... make sure to "like" SlapShot Radio on Facebook... here's the link.

If you are outside of the listening area, listen live online at The Game website or check out the podcast about two hours after the show at on SoundCloud.

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