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Wes Goldstein's Take

At some point, the hockey story in Nashville will be strictly about on what happens with the team on the ice. Until then the focus will continue to be about challenges off the ice. Last summer, the issue was the controversial sale and potential relocation of the franchise, and now the intrigue involves an ongoing member of the ownership group who has turned out to be a scam artist and a talented young scorer named Alexander Radulov who is trying to skip out on his contract to play for a lot more money back home in Russia. Otherwise, things have been unremarkable this offseason for the Predators, who have focused their efforts successfully on locking up key young players like Ryan Suter, Dan Ellis and Martin Erat for long terms. That's the good news for the Predators. But the team continues to operate as always on a tight budget, and has not made any significant upgrades to a team that barely made the playoffs last season and seems destined to be on the bubble again.

Coach Barry Trotz has been here from the beginning but never seems to be acknowledged for how good a job he does. Maybe that's because the Predators have had only modest success since joining the league, although for the most part, that's because Trotz has always found a way to get more out of them than he should. The book on Nashville has always been that it is a hard team to play against, and this season will be no different mainly because there is a good young group of defensemen and some offensive talent in Jason Arnott, Martin Erat and J.P. Dumont.

Dan Ellis was a late blooming rookie last season who stole the No. 1 job and forced Chris Mason out of town. Thing is his story reads a little like Mason's, who faltered last season after he took control of the position and that has to worry Nashville a bit. The Predators could use a little more punch up front, especially now that Radulov is in Russia. His absence will be felt on an offense that was middling at best and in particular on the power play, which was among the worst in the league.

The future of the franchise in Nashville may be up in the air again now that disgraced owner William Del Biaggio's shares are in bankruptcy proceedings, creating an unnecessary distraction.

Burning Question

Will all the off-ice turmoil finally catch up with this team? You have to admire the way the Predators have put aside all the distractions the past few seasons to remain a playoff team. Of course they've never gotten past the first round, so a case can be made they have taken advantage of being in what was a weak division and played above their heads to some extent.

On the Hot Seat
Shea Weber, D
The hard-hitting defenseman spent a lot of time on the shelf last season, but still got a three-year, $13.5 million extension.
Save the Date
Dec. 26 vs. Detroit
First game against the team that eliminated the Preds from the playoffs comes at a time when Nashville should have a sense of where it is going.
The Predators need Jason Arnott, J.P. Dumont and Steve Sullivan to stay healthy and power their offense. (Getty Images)
2008-09 in Review
Record: 40-34-8 for 88 points
Finish: 10th in West, 5th in Central; Missed playoffs
Goals/Game: 2.52 (24th) Goals Against/Game: 2.78 (13th)
Power Play: 15.7% (25th) Penalty Kill: 82.5% (10th)
Fantasy Projections
CJason Arnott792740671744
RWJ.P. Dumont79254065836
RWMartin Erat81213758564
CDavid Legwand822529541540
DShea Weber71183148842
39Dan Ellis272122.56.9158
35Pekka Rinne8812.90.9071
Complete Fantasy Projections
Generation Next
Colin Wilson, C, 19
Wilson cashed in on his decision to return to Boston University in 2008. He finished second among NCAA scorers and led the Terriers to a national title. Wilson, who could end up on the Predators roster out of camp, uses his brawny frame to his advantage, protects the puck well and has a knack for finding teammates. Boston U. (HE) - 43GP-17G-38A-55PTS
In the System
No. Player, Pos., Age 2008-09 Team, Stats
1 Cody Franson, D, 22 Milwaukee (AHL); 76GP-11G-41A-52PTS
2 Patric Hornqvist, RW, 22 Milwaukee (AHL); 49GP-17G-18A-35PTS
3 Jonathon Blum, D, 20 Vancouver (WHL); 51GP-16G-50A-66PTS
Expert Picks
No. Goldstein Brown Devonport Hurcomb Cercel
Complete expert picks
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