The Nashville Predators are Stanley Cup contenders. It’s guaranteed that they will be one of the best teams in the NHL. Yeah, it’s quite the proclamation for a team that has yet to sniff a Stanley Cup Final, but this is their year. And it begins with a defensive unit that might be unmatched.
It all starts with the addition of P.K. Subban, who the Predators traded for in the offseason. He will be the focal point of a stellar group of defencemen that includes Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis.
With Subban now in the fold, the team adds another one of the NHL’s best defenceman. And while Nashville traded away Shea Weber, the addition of Subban makes them that much better. He adds toughness and physicality to their roster because that’s the type of player he is.
Take Weber’s 2015-16 season as an example. He recorded a career-low 27 penalty minutes during his 78 games played. On the other hand, Subban recorded 75. It’s nice to have an enforcer on the ice, especially one that’s as offensively gifted as Subban.
Also take into account Subban’s assist totals from last season. He recorded 45 helpers on the year. Meanwhile, Weber only recorded 31. Subban will get his team involved more in the offense, and that is good news for Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg.
While Subban will certainly add punch to the Predators, it’s Josi who might be the teams best scorer. He’s recorded two straight 55+ point seasons and has stepped up as a leader for a playoff hungry Nashville team. It’s not out of the question that Josi challenge for the Norris Trophy this season, given to the league’s best defenceman.
And while Nashville’s top defensive pairing of Subban and Josi will be downright deadly, you can’t count out their second unit of the aforementioned Ekholm and Ellis. Both players are 30+ point scorers and are relatively young, both being under the age of 27.
There are quite a few NHL teams that have elite defenceman on their roster. However, no team has two defensemen that ranked in the top-ten of scoring amongst the position. And it’s likely that won’t change for the 2016-17 year either, as Subban and Josi are two of the best in hockey.
While it might not seem like a big difference to some, the departure of Weber and addition of Subban is astronomical. It’s a chance for Subban to be given a fresh start, a chance to prove he’s the best defenceman in hockey. It also gives Josi the opportunity to take over as the primary defenceman goal scorer, as Subban is more suited to being a distributor.
The Predators have the best defense in hockey, and it’s not even close.
Follow Daniel James Gentile on Twitter @dgentleman9288