Mike Fisher is set to become the next captain of the Nashville Predators, according to recent reports. The team has scheduled an afternoon press conference on Thursday, and Adam Vignan of The Tennessean says he has been told that the “major announcement” is that of the 2016-17 captains, with Fisher atop the list. An alternate with the Ottawa Senators and then immediately with the Predators following his trade, Fisher was always the most likely candidate. Vignan points out that Fisher is one of just four players on the current roster over the age of 30, and as a veteran presence on a young team, it is a natural fit for his locker room presence to translate to his captaincy. A veteran of over 1,000 NHL game and a complete two-way player, Fisher is the perfect example for Nashville’s young, impressionable players to work toward. Shea Weber himself said that he “knew” who his replacement would be at captain, so it seems as though Fisher will be universally accepted in his new role. Although no news has leaked as to who Fisher’s alternates will be, many have suspected that Weber’s true replacement, P.K. Subban, may be a top candidate.
In other captain news:
- John Tortorella has named Joe Pavelski the captain of Team USA for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey. The San Jose Sharks forward will be assisted by alternates Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks and Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild. Pavelski has been on a leadership role of late, taking over as the captain of San Jose last season after a captain-less 2014-15 campaign featured a locker room power struggle between a young core and older veterans, including former Sharks captains Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. For the same reason coach Peter DeBoer named Pavelski captain, Tortorella did as well, and that is his impeccable locker room presence and chemistry with his teammates. Kane will be somewhat new to captaincy, even as an alternate, as Jonathan Toews (a Team Canada alternate), Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook have the official leadership roles locked up in Chicago. Suter meanwhile, has been an alternate captain on Team USA before, at the 2010 Winter Olympics, and serves in the same role with the Wild under Mikko Koivu (the captain of Team Finland).
- With the captain vacancy filled in Nashville, there are now just four openings remaining across the NHL. There has been much speculation that Connor McDavid will take over in Edmonton, but what of Carolina, Florida, and Toronto? It seems likely that alternate Jordan Staal will follow in his brother’s footsteps and take over the leadership role for the Hurricanes, though the dark horse candidate may just be the rare goalie captain in Cam Ward, who has spent his entire career in Carolina. If you don’t think that matters, look around the league. 20 captains and at least 32 alternates are lifelong members of their respective teams. By that logic, young Florida stars Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Huberdeau, both recently extended long-term, look to be prime candidates. However, Jussi Jokinen and Derek MacKenzie served as alternates last season and may need to make up for the lost leadership of the departed Willie Mitchell, Brian Campbell, and Dave Bolland. Up in Toronto, well, your guess is as good as any. Veterans Brooks Laich and Joffrey Lupul are good veteran leaders, but neither is guaranteed ice time. Auston Matthews is the future, but it’s hard to see anyone being named captain without playing a single game. It could be that the Leafs wait to name a captain, but if they do want one in place prior to puck drop on the 2016-17, James van Riemsdyk seems like the best choice as of now.