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


If you missed yesterday’s post featuring Martin Erat, David Legwand and Blake Geoffrion, CLICK HERE.

PROJECTED LINE #3 || Niclas Bergfors – Cal O’Reilly – Colin Wilson
Niclas Bergfors has the opportunity to really shine. The problem is, he also has the opportunity to fall flat on his face. The 24 year old Sodertalje, Sweden native may end up on a line with fellow Swede Hornqvist at times this upcoming season. But to have them starting the season together would not only give Bergfors way too much credit but it would also negate all the chemistry that Hornqvist, Fisher and Kostitsyn created at the end of last season. So, for now, we’re saying Bergfors earns his stripes on the third line. The former first round pick of the New Jersey Devils has a lot of potential. In his rookie year (2009-10), he proved he can score goals in this league, collecting 21 of them en route to All-Rookie Team honors. He’s not known as a hard worker though. Matter of fact, some experts would use the word “soft.” That won’t fly with the Predators coaching staff and, if he wants to stick around, he’ll have to quiet his critics on a regular basis. If Head Coach Barry Trotz wants to set him up for success, he’ll put his new budget-conscious winger on a line with a playmaking center. That way, Bergfors can use his skill, speed and agility to get open and let the playmaker… well… make plays.
2011-12 PREDICTION: 42 points

Cal O’Reilly fits the bill. He’s a point-per-game talent at the AHL level and was only starting to make an argument for full-time NHL work when he broke his fibula last December. He never returned to game action and will see his first pro hockey match when the pre-season begins next month. Before the injury, however, he was on top of the Nashville scoring list with 18 points. Through December 18, only Steve Sullivan was producing more for the Preds. O’Reilly has always been a playmaker. He loves to make the pretty pass and excels in doing it. For example, when he led the Milwaukee Admirals in scoring in 2007-08, only 16 of his 79 points were goals. Want another example? Fine. After being drafted by Nashville in the fifth round of the 2005 NHL Draft, he went on to lead his Windsor Spitfires team in scoring with an incredible 99 points. 81 of which were assists. The guy could become Adam Oates in a Preds sweater. Well, he could if he had talented linemates, was utilized on the power play more and can stay healthy. With Bergfors skating to his left, look for O’Reilly to have a breakout year.
2011-12 PREDICTION: 53 points (45 assists)

Colin Wilson goes into the season as a real wild card. He’s been in Head Coach Barry Trotz’s dog house for some time and if the former Boston University Terrier can get it right between the ears, the sky’s the limit for him. And, with a full summer off to think about how things have gone down and his future as an NHL power forward, don’t be surprised if Wilson comes into camp ready to blow everyone away. His 34 points was good enough for seventh best on the Predators last season but he managed those numbers in a limited role. Again, due to the attitude issues. Think of what he could do with a full season of top minutes and top determination on every shift. Now think of what he could do with a full season of top minutes and top determination with talented linemates like Bergfors and O’Reilly. Scary, isn’t it? Wilson’s power forward style could really compliment the creative O’Reilly and shifty Bergfors. It’s just too bad that their potential rests on his shoulders.
2011-12 PREDICTION: 40 points (with the right attitude); TRADED (with the wrong attitude)

PHOTO CREDIT: Gosha Images and Bridget Samuels