With Austin Watson suspended, Predators’ youth can step up

The NHL recently handed down its suspension for Nashville’s forward Austin Watson.

Watson, arrested in mid-June on charges of misdemeanor and domestic assault, was handed a 27 game suspension by the NHL.

For most teams, this would be a hard void to fill but for the Predators, it could be a blessing in disguise. Nashville has young talent that has not had major opportunities to prove themselves because of elite talent or proven veterans.

With Austin Watson suspended, opportunities have been created for Nashville’s young prospects.

The Predators, headed by 2017 GM of the year David Poile, have managed to draft and sign young talent for long-term affordable contracts.

These contracts include players like Calle Jarnkrok who are inked for a mere 6-year, 12 million dollars. Jarnkrok has been a solid contributor to the Nashville Predators, filling voids on the third and fourth line.

Jarnkrok had a record-breaking 2017-2018 year, contributing to one of the highest plus-minuses on the Predators (20+).

While Jarnkrok is a highly overlooked forward, the real opportunity resides with even younger prospects. Players like Miikka Salomaki, Frederick Gaudreau, and Colton Sissons will all have fair shares of rounding out the third and fourth lines.

However, the most intriguing opportunity resides with forward Eeli Tolvanen. Tolvanen, drafted by Nashville in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft, has the most upside of any Nashville prospect.

While playing in the KHL, Tolvanen broke rookie records such as youngest player to score a Hat Trick, most point total for an 18-year-old, and 6 time rookie of the week.

Nashville recently signed Tolvanen to a 3 year (2-way) contract, and he will be serving ice time with AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals to start the season.

However, look for Tolvanen to play often in Nashville, filling in areas of the first, second, or third lines.

Projected Lines: (* signals 2-way contract)

Filip Forsberg- Ryan Johansen- Viktor Arvidson

Kevin Fiala- Kyle Turris- Craig Smith

Ryan Hartman- Nick Bonino- Craig Smith

Zac Rinaldo- Colton Sissons- Miikka Salomaki

Filip Forsberg- Ryan Johansen- Kevin Fiala

Eeli Tolvanen*- Kyle Turris- Viktor Arvidson

Calle Jarnkrok- Nick Bonino- Craig Smith

Ryan Hartman- Colton Sissons- Miikka Salomaki

Roman Josi- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm- P.K. Subban

Dan Humhuis Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros


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