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Previewing the Predators’ forwards for 2011-12, part four…


If you missed yesterday’s post featuring Niclas Bergfors, Cal O’Reilly and Colin Wilson, CLICK HERE.

PROJECTED LINE #4 || Jordin Tootoo – Jerred Smithson – Nick Spaling
Jordin Tootoo was on fire in the post season, amassing five points in the first round alone. Easily his best playoff outing since scoring 11 points in 15 games with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2005-06. He also set new career highs in scoring during the regular season, even despite missing time for personal reasons. Does it mean he’s finally found his offensive game? Does it mean that he was skating with the right teammates? Does it mean that it was just a fluke? Either way you look at it, Tootoo is coming into a contract year and is coming off his best season to date. And that’s with missing 28 games. Think what he could do with a full 82 game slate with all this new confidence? To be realistic, however, you have to figure that he’s going to be on the fourth line. The fourth line doesn’t exactly get 15:00 of ice time per game. But, the minutes that he will get will not just be for fighting or setting the tone anymore. He could very well be put out there in key offensive situations given the Predators depth at the forward position. With three lines (see above) that can score at any given moment, and the fourth line having some offensive ability too, Nashville could see their goal numbers go up. Tootoo would definitely be a part of that. Even if it’s only in a small way compared to the big guns.
2011-12 PREDICTION: 25 points

Jerred Smithson is a penalty killing specialist for the Predators. Trotz has said numerous times that he’d love to have 18 cloned Smithson’s on his squad as he’s the prototypical Nashville Predator. The only problem with that is, he’d only have 10 wins a year with a roster full of guys who score just 14 points each (Smithson’s average since joining the Predators back in 2005). That’s not taking anything away from the Vernon, British Columbia native. His role is to be a solid two-way center who can kill penalties. And he’s great at his role. But there’s a reason why teams who win championships have different players doing different things. Smithson is excellent at what he brings to the table. And, on the fourth line, he can bring his A-game every night without getting burned out.
2011-12 PREDICTION: 15 points

Nick Spaling is a former 38-goal scorer with the Kitchener Rangers. His junior days (alongside current teammate Halischuk) were spent leading his club in scoring. His professional days, though, not so much. That’s not to say he can’t develop into a 20-goal guy at the NHL level but, right now, that’s not what he’s being asked to do. He managed eight goals last year in various roles. The 23 year old saw limited ice time because of his experience level but also logged some big minutes when the Predators were decimated with injuries to Marcel Goc, Sullivan, O’Reilly and Erat, just to name a few. He’s also a penalty killing specialist but none of his goals were of the short-handed variety. Spaling is a guy who can contribute on the scoresheet but is relied on for other things at this point.
2011-12 PREDICTION: 22 points

PHOTO CREDIT: Bridget Samuels and Seth Hinton