Saturday, July 11, 2015

Ponderings From the Predators Prospect Scrimmage

The Nashville Predators wrapped up their prospect camp with an intra-squad scrimmage at the Ford Ice Center. Here are some thoughts:

  • I have been to a number of these scrimmages and one of the things that stood out to me was the overall talent level of the kids on the ice. Now for sure, these guys aren't playing against NHL caliber players, but the talent level really was better than I recall at any of these events. The creativity and athleticism of these young Predator prospects bodes well for the future of this team.
  • With a split squad, there was a lot of ice time for every player. The structure of the game was more pond hockey than anything, but it gave the players an opportunity to showcase their skills and several stood out.
  • I really like the play of Yakov Trenin. The big center skates well and has great hockey sense. He was solid in all zones and distributed the puck well in the offensive zone. He also showed a good shot and is the kind of smooth skating big body that hopefully develop into a top flight NHL forward.
  • Dadgum, Viktor Arvidsson has some wheels. His speed was better than anyone else on the ice and he used it to create some good scoring chances.
  • Last year, Filip Forsberg played like a man on a mission to make the Predators opening day roster. Today, that energy and effort belonged to Kevin Fiala. Fiala skated hard and was all over the ice and showed a wickedly quick release on his shot. Fiala looks  stronger and possesses excellent vision on the ice and does a good job of finding the open areas of the ice.
  • Jonathan-Ismael Diaby is a man-child. At 6'5" and 246 lbs., he is an imposing physical force and, while there were no big open ice hits against his teammates, he did manage to staple a couple of opposing forwards to the boards. Diaby moved well, and if his skating ability continues to improve, he will not be long in the AHL.
  • The goaltenders all split a period of action. Juuse Saros played the first period for the blue squad and gave up 2 goals on 11 shots. Saros made some very good saves in his period of action and moved well in the crease. At 5'11", Saros is the smallest of the goalies that were in camp.
  • Jimmy Vesey looked bigger and stronger and played a solid game. Vesey has already declared that he is going to return to Harvard for the next season, but shows a lot of skill at the forward position. 
  • Lots of size among the prospects on the ice. It will be interesting to see these young men grow and develop over the next few years. The Predators will potentially have some big bodies to put on the ice.
  • Nick Saracino was not drafted but was an invited player to the prospect camp, and Saracino showed that he was not intimidated. He made some good moves in the offensive zone and scored a sweet goal.
Director of Player Development Scott Nichol has some good, raw talent to work with. Today was a good glimpse of their potential. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Predators Sign Ribeiro and Jackman, Add Depth in Free Agency

The Nashville Predators were active in free agency, re-signing Mike Ribeiro and adding some players to augment the roster.

Ribeiro signed for two years and $7 million, which brings back the Predators number one center and second leading scorer from last season. Ribeiro's off ice issues that occurred when he was with Phoenix have become very public, which more than likely limited his options on the free agent market. And the Predators needed his services. Since Ribeiro has been in Nashville, he has been a good citizen, so this was a good fit for both sides.

David Poile went to the bargain bin once again, signing Cody Hodgson to a one year, $1.05 million contract. Hodgson is 25 years old and struggled last season with the Buffalo Sabres, tallying 13 points (6G-7A) in 78 games. He is two seasons removed from his best campaign in which he had 44 points (20G-24A) in 72 games for the Sabres. It is hoped that Hodgson can revive his game under Head Coach Peter Laviolette and slot into a third line position. If he revive his career as Ribeiro did then the Predators will have hit a home run with this signing. The pressure is on Hodgson to prove that he can be consistently productive and this upcoming season is critical to his career continuing at the NHL level.

The Predators continued their bargain hunting by acquiring Max Reinhart from the Calgary Flames for a conditional 4th round draft pick in 2016. Reinhart has appeared in 23 NHL games and has scored 4 points (1G-3A). Reinhart was a third round pick of the Flames in 2010.

The Predators added a quality veteran to the blue line, signing Barrett Jackman to a 2 year, $4 million contract. Jackman played 803 games for the St. Louis Blues and served as an alternate captain for the Blues over the past 9 seasons. Jackman brings a gritty, physical element to the Predators D corps and will be a valuable presence for the Predators on the back end.

In the midst of these acquisitions, the Predators parted ways with goaltender Magnus Hellburg. He was shipped to the New York Rangers for a 6th round draft pick in the 2017 entry draft. The departure of Hellburg solidifies the position of Marek Mazanec in Milwaukee and opens the door for Juuse Saros, the talented Finnish draft pick to settle in at the AHL level.

The Predators adds are good for creating some competition at the center position, but the truth is that the Predators are desperate for elite pivots. The great teams in the NHL are strong down the middle. The Predators are not. They have some serviceable players, but it going to be imperative that the Predators develop their young talent at that position or acquire exceptional centers via trade. Fail to do that, and the Predators are going to continue to struggle to go deep in the playoffs against the best teams in the West.

The free agent crop was thin this year, but the Predators made a solid add with Jackman and added some depth and potential with Hodgson and Reinhart. More importantly, they didn't overpay for the players they brought in to the fold. Now it will be up to the coaching staff to bring out the best in Hodgson and Reinhart.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Predators Draft Fills Needs at Center

The Nashville Predators completed the 2015 Entry Draft by selecting 4 centers, 2 goalies, and 1 defenseman. The team is looking to stock the pipeline where they are the weakest, and that is at the center position.

Now the Predators have to develop these young players, especially at the center position, something that the team has been unable to do well throughout its history. The Predators 4 centers that were used in the past season all came to the organization via trade or free agency.

The talent at the pivot position in this draft is there. And the Predators have shown they can develop young talent at other positions that they have drafted into their system. They must now develop this talent and hope they mature quickly as the Predators are weak and thin at center.

Lets take a look at the players drafted:

Iakov Trenin 

Trenin is a 6'2', 194 lb. Russian that played for Benoit Groulx at Gatineau in the QMJHL. Trenin was ranked as the 36th best prospect by; and the 48th best prospect by Future Considerations and the NHL Central Scouting service. That he fell to the Predators in the 55th pick (their first pick of the draft) of the second round was fortuitous. Trenin is considered a good two way player and rates high in his hockey sense. Trenin posted 18 goals and 49 assists in 58 games as a 17 year old in his first year in North America. His biggest weakness, according to scouts, is his skating, but it is believed that this can improve significantly.

Thomas Novak

The 85th pick in the draft, the third rounder has committed to the University of Minnesota. The 6' 179 lb. center is considered to be a highly skilled play maker that plays with good vision. Novak has a reputation as a play maker first and a scorer second. Herepresented Team USA in the World Junior A Challenge and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and played last season for Waterloo in the USHL. Novak is rated as an excellent skater and playmaker that plays an up tempo game.

Anthony Richard

Richard, a 5'10" 163 lb. center, played for Val d'or of the QMJHL and posted 91 points (43G-48A) in 66 games. Although smallish, Richard is not afraid to go to the hard areas and mix it up physically. Richard has been compared to the Boston Bruins Brad Marchand as a similar type of player. Richard is a very fast skater that uses his speed to attack a defense. Richard was selected in the 4th round with the 100th pick.

Alexandre Carrier

Carrier was a teammate with Trenin and was the captain of the Gatineau squad. The defenseman led the Olympiques blue liners in points with 55 (12G-43A) in 68 games and was third on the team in scoring. Carrier is 5'11" and 174 lbs, and the 19 year old is a good puck moving defender. He has a hard shot that gets through to the net. He is considered an all around defenseman that has good hockey sense and can create offense.

Karel Vejmelka

In the fifth round, the Predators selected the 6'2" 202 lb. goalie from Pardubice, Czech Republic. The 19 year old is currently signed for HC Dynamo Pardabuice. He is a big goalie that moves well and shows great agility in the crease. Hw qon a silver medal for the Czech under 18 team in the World Championships in 2014.

Tyler Moy

The 6' 195 lb center will return to Harvard for his junior season with the Crimson. This past year, Moy was voted by his teammates as the most improved player on the squad. A good two way player that uses his body well to protect the puck. He is just starting to come into his own as a hockey player and will need to continue to show the progress that he has shown in the past two seasons.

Evan Smith

The 6'7" 174 lb Smith is a clone of former Predators netminder Anders Lindback- big and lanky. He will need to grow into his frame, but he moves well and covers a lot of net with his size. He will play for Victoria in the Western Hockey League next season.

The Predators have drafted some players with lots of potential. The real test will be to see if these players can develop and realize that potential and make it to the big club.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

My View

Random ruminations from your resident curmudgeon...

There is no secret that our spending in this country is out of control. Government at all levels has shown the inability to curtail bloated government programs and institute needed financial reforms to put our nation on a solid financial footing.

Our "leaders" will tell us that our spending is not that bad and that they still have control of the situation.

I will respectfully disagree.

But if you don't believe me, I want to share with you a blog from Michael Snyder of the Economic Collapse blog.

Here is his chilling and downright scary view:

Did you know that if you took every single penny away from everyone in the United States that it still would not be enough to pay off the national debt?  Today, the debt of the federal government exceeds $145,000 per household, and it is getting worse with each passing year.
Many believe that if we paid it off a little bit at a time that we could eventually pay it all off, but as you will see below that isn’t going to work either.

It has been projected that “mandatory” federal spending on programs such as Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare plus interest on the national debt will exceed total federal revenue by the year 2025.  That is before a single dollar is spent on the U.S. military, homeland security, paying federal workers or building any roads and bridges.  So no, we aren’t going to be “paying down” our debt any time in the foreseeable future.  And of course it isn’t just our 18 trillion dollar national debt that we need to be concerned about.  Overall, Americans are a total of 58 trillion dollars in debt.  35 years ago, that number was sitting at just 4.3 trillion dollars.  There is no way in the world that all of that debt can ever be repaid.  The only thing that we can hope for now is for this debt bubble to last for as long as possible before it finally explodes.

It shocks many people to learn that our debt is far larger than the total amount of money in existence.  So let’s take a few moments and go through some of the numbers.

When most people think of “money”, they think of coins, paper money and checking accounts.  All of those are contained in one of the most basic measures of money known as M1.  The following definition of M1 comes from Investopedia
A measure of the money supply that includes all physical money, such as coins and currency, as well as demand deposits, checking accounts and Negotiable Order of Withdrawal (NOW) accounts. M1 measures the most liquid components of the money supply, as it contains cash and assets that can quickly be converted to currency.
As you can see from the chart below, M1 has really grown in recent years thanks to rampant quantitative easing by the Federal Reserve.  At the moment it is sitting just shy of 3 trillion dollars…
M1 Money Supply 2015
So if you gathered up all coins, all paper currency and all money in everyone’s checking accounts, would that even make much of a dent in our debt?


We’ll have to find more “money” to grab.

M2 is a broader definition of money than M1 is, because it includes more things.  The following definition of M2 comes from Investopedia
A measure of money supply that includes cash and checking deposits (M1) as well as near money. “Near money” in M2 includes savings deposits, money market mutual funds and other time deposits, which are less liquid and not as suitable as exchange mediums but can be quickly converted into cash or checking deposits.
As you can see from the chart below, M2 is sitting just short of 12 trillion dollars right now…
M2 Money Supply 2015
That is a lot more “money”, but it still wouldn’t pay off our national debt, much less our total debt of 58 trillion dollars.

So is there anything else that we could grab?

Well, the broadest definition of “money” that is commonly used is M3.  The following definition of M3 comes from Investopedia
A measure of money supply that includes M2 as well as large time deposits, institutional money market funds, short-term repurchase agreements and other larger liquid assets. The M3 measurement includes assets that are less liquid than other components of the money supply, and are more closely related to the finances of larger financial institutions and corporations than to those of businesses and individuals. These types of assets are referred to as “near, near money.”
The Federal Reserve no longer provides charts for M3, but according to John Williams of, M3 is currently sitting somewhere in the neighborhood of 17 trillion dollars.
So even with the broadest possible definition of “money”, we simply cannot come up with enough to pay off the debt of the federal government, much less the rest of our debts.

That is not good news at all.

Alternatively, could we just start spending less than we bring in and start paying down the national debt a little bit at a time?

Perhaps that may have been true at one time, but now we are really up against a wall.  Our rapidly aging population is going to put an enormous amount of stress on our national finances in the years ahead.

According to U.S. Representative Frank Wolf, interest on the national debt plus “mandatory” spending on programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid will surpass the total amount of federal revenue by the year 2025.  That is before a single penny is spent on homeland security, national defense, paying federal workers, etc.

But even now things are a giant mess.  We are told that “deficits are under control”, but that is a massive hoax that is based on accounting gimmicks.  During fiscal year 2014, the U.S. national debt increased by more than a trillion dollars.  That is not “under control” – that is a raging national crisis.
Many believe that that we could improve the situation by raising taxes.  And yes, a little bit more could probably be squeezed out of us, but the impact on government finances would be negligible.  Since the end of World War II, the amount of tax revenue taken in by the federal government has fluctuated in a range between 15 and 20 percent of GDP no matter what tax rates have been.  I believe that it is possible to get up into the low twenties, but that would also be very damaging to our economy and the American public would probably throw a huge temper tantrum.

The real problem, of course, is our out of control spending.

During the past two decades, spending by the federal government has grown 63 percent more rapidly than inflation, and “mandatory” spending on programs such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid has actually doubled after you adjust for inflation.

We simply cannot afford to keep spending money like this.

And then there is the matter of interest on the national debt.  For the moment, the rest of the world is lending us gigantic mountains of money at ridiculously low interest rates.  However, if the average rate of interest on U.S. government debt was just to return to the long-term average, we would be spending more than a trillion dollars a year just in interest on the national debt.

So the best possible environment for “paying down our debt” that we are ever going to see is happening right now.  The only place that interest rates on U.S. government debt have to go is up, and our population is going to just keep getting older and more dependent on government programs.
Meanwhile, our overall debt continues to spiral out of control as well.  According to CNBC, the total amount of debt that Americans owe has reached a staggering 58.7 trillion dollars…
As the nation entered the 1980s, there was comparatively little debt—just about $4.3 trillion. That was only about 1.5 times the size of gross GDP. Then a funny thing happened.

The gap began to widen during the decade, and then became basically parabolic through the ’90s and into the early part of the 21st century.

Though debt took a brief decline in 2009 as the country limped its way out of the financial crisis, it has climbed again and is now, at $58.7 trillion, 3.3 times the size of GDP and about 13 times what it was in 1980, according to data from the Federal Reserve’s St. Louis branch. (The total debt measure is not to be confused with the $18.2 trillion national debt, which is 102 percent of GDP and is a subset of the total figure.)
As I discussed above, there isn’t enough money in our entire system to even pay off a significant chunk of that debt.

So what happens when the total amount of debt in a society vastly exceeds the total amount of money?

Is there any way out other than collapse?

It's time that we as a nation start being honest about our current financial situation. Our future standard of living as well as that of future generations depends on it.

And until we begin to have the willpower to curtail our bloated government bureaucracies and programs, we are careening headlong into financial oblivion.

And that, my friends, is my view.

Monday, May 25, 2015

My View- Memorial Day

"It is well that war is so terrible, otherwise we should grow too fond of it."
General Robert E. Lee

General Lee was right, and for most of us, we have not seen the horrors of war, and for that we are truly blessed.
Yet throughout history, even to this day, there have been brave men and women that have endured the horrors of war so that we might enjoy the blessings of freedom. They have made the ultimate sacrifice to preserve our freedoms and to bring the fresh air of freedom to all parts of the world.
We honor those that have laid down their life in the service of our country. We are free because you have chosen to prize freedom more than your own life.

And we remember the loved ones left behind, who daily bear the wounds of your sacrifice, for they too have sacrificed.

We offer our humble gratitude and remembrance to the brave men and women who have sacrificed to preserve the freedom and promise of this great nation.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Predators Season Ends After Falling 4-3 to the Blackhawks

Game 6 was a do or die game for the Predators. Down 3 games to 2, the Predators were going to have to win in Chicago to force a game 7 in Nashville.

The Predators opened the game with a sense of desperation as James Neal tallied twice and Matt Cullen scored a beauty to chase Scott Darling midway of the first period and send Corey Crawford into the net. Darling gave up 3 goals on 12 shots.

This Blackhawks team is talented and has no quit. A goal by Patrick Sharp and a power play goal by Jonathan Toews cut the Predators lead to 3-2. Sharp had an empty net as Rinne was out of position and Rinne had no chance on a redirect off Toews skate.

The Hawks tied the game up with 6 seconds remaining in the first period as Patrick Kane beat Rinne top shelf through traffic.

So after the great start by the Predators, the game was even after one period.

The second period was scoreless, but the Hawks often carried the play to the Predators.

As in the second period, the Blackhawks had the better of the play in the Predators offensive zone. After a furious scramble, Duncan Keith beat Rinne through traffic to give the Hawks a 4-3 lead with 3:40 remaining in the game.

The Predators pulled Rinne for the extra attacker with 2:05  remaining in the game. It was to no avail as the Predators could not find the net and saw their season end with a 4-3 loss.

Some observations:

  • Great start by the Predators as they continued their attacking style of play and chased Darling from the net in the first period. When the Predators are attacking the net and using their speed, they are hard to play against. they used this style to get the Hawks back on their heels early in the game.
  • Once again, the Predators squandered a great start. One of the things this coaching staff is going to have to do is to change the DNA of this team. You just cannot keep giving up multi-goal leads and expect to win games. This has plagued this team over the last half of the season and in the playoffs.
  • James Neal has to come up big for the Predators and his two goals in the first period are the lift he needs to provide. Neal has tremendous offensive talent and needs to utilize like he has in his last two games if the Predators are going to win this series.
  • As good as Neal was in the offensive zone, his cross check behind the play that resulted in  Hawks power play goal was just stupid. You CANNOT take a dumb penalty like that in a game of this magnitude.The Hawks power play is a potent weapon, and giving them the man advantage like that is just unacceptable.
  • The Predators got killed in the face off circle in the first period and two of the three Hawks goals were a direct result of the Predators being unable to win faceoffs. The Predators had been pretty good in the circle until this game, and it cost them on the scoreboard. The Predators were 12 of 30 in the dot in the first period.
  • That said, the Predators won 13 of 21 faceoffs in the second period.
  • Both teams tightened up their defense in the second period and there was was not nearly as much room as in the first period. In the third period, it was going to come down to a matter of will to get to the prime scoring areas for the Predators.
  • After an explosive first period, the Predators offense did not generate many quality chances on Crawford. The offense could not find a rhythm and get the puck on net with any consistency and failed to challenge what had to be a shaky goalie.
Once again, the Predators just could not hold a lead and saw their season slip away because of that inability.

Not much else to say. I will have a post season wrap up later.

My three stars:

1. Duncan Keith

2. James Neal

3. Patrick Sharp

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Predators Hold Off Elimination, Blast the Blackhawks 5-2

With their backs against the wall, the Nashville Predators were attempting to do something that had never been done in their playoff history.

Stave off elimination on their home ice.

The Predators met the Chicago Blackhawks in a do or die game 5 at Bridgestone Arena with the Hawks leading the series 3-1.

Goals by Brad Richards and Filip Forsberg left the teams knotted at 1 at the end of the first period.

After a scoreless second period, the Predators attacked the Hawks and got them back on their heels in the third period. James Neal beat Scott Darling on a wraparound. Colin Wilson scored a beauty on the power play over the shoulder of Darling. Just 22 seconds later, Filip Forsberg beat Darling to make it 4-1.

Kris Versteeg cut the Predators lead to 4-2 with a goal at 14:42, and Predators fans couldn't rest easy just yet.

The game was settled when Filip Forsberg tallied an empty netter for the hat trick to seal a 5-2 win for the good guys.

Some observations:

  • Good to see Mike Fisher back in the line up. The Preds desperatley need his leadership and play on the ice.
  • I love Pekka Rinne and his compete level and the way he plays the game. He made some great saves in the first period, but he has to stop that goal he gave up. The Predators need him to shut everything down and that was one he couldn't give up.
  • The fact that Filip Forsberg isn't even a finalist for the Calder Trophy is criminal. Forsberg showed with his sweet goal why he should not only have been a finalist but should have won the award. Oh yeah, he went on to score two more goals for the hat trick.
  • NBC reported that Shea Weber has a torn ACL. No confirmation about the injury from the team.
  • If the Predators had played this attacking style of hockey over the last 20 games... Wow, they just keep coming at the net. I like it, and I hope they carry this style of play over to a full 82 games next season.
  • James Neal has played the last two games like the team hoped he would. He has been strong on the puck, active, and dynamic in the offensive zone. His wrap around goal was pure hustle and desire to get to the net. This is what the Predators have to have from Neal if they are going to win games.
  • Colin Wilson! Wilson has come alive in the playoffs and tallied his 5th goal of the series with a beautiful power play goal over the shoulder of Scott Darling. 4 of Wilson's 5 goals in this series have come on the power play.
  • Welcome back, Mike Fisher. A nice goal just 22 seconds after Colin Wilson had scored, Fisher gives the crowd a treat with his Frosty goal. You cannot underestimate the impact of Fisher on this team. He is a leader on and off the ice, and his tough, gritty style of play inspires his teammates.
  • Viktor Stalberg continues to play a strong game. Neal's goal was a direst result of Stalberg's work on the forecheck, forcing a turnover that Neal was able to bury. This is the kind of play that that Stalberg has to bring every night, and the Predators have benefited from his effort.
  • For the first time in the history of the team, the Predators held off elimination on their home ice.
Predators fans had to wonder about the emotional state of this team after a couple of tough losses in this series.

Wonder no more.

This team showed heart and fight all night long. They didn't quit. They battled from start to finish to stay alive in the series.

This is just one game, but you can only play one game at a time.

Now they have to play one more game.

Just like this one.

And bring it back to the Bridge for a game 7.

My three stars:

1. Filip Forsberg

2. James Neal

3. Pekka Rinne