While the Nashville Predators are happy to get P.K. Subban back tonight, they also found out that they will be without the services of grinder Cody Bass for the remainder of the 2016-17 season. Predators beat writer Adam Vignan reports that Bass required surgery on a lower-body injury and the recover will keep him out for the year. The injury occurred while Bass was playing for the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals back in December, and a recent re-evaluation in Nashville and subsequent decision to move forward with surgery has ruled out any possible return.
Bass, while definitely not the most successful NHLer, has been a valued depth asset for many seasons. A fourth-round selection of the Ottawa Senators in 2005, Bass broke into the league at the age of 21 in 2007-08 and had his best NHL season as a rookie. In a career-high 21 games, Bass picked up four points and looked at home in an energy line role. He even notched a goal in the Senators’ first-round playoff series. However, Bass missed the majority of 2008-09 with an injury, and by the time he returned, his role in Ottawa was all but gone. Bass’ brand of hard-nosed hockey did not develop into anything more than just gritty checking play in limited ice time while in Ottawa. He moved on to Columbus in 2011-12 and appeared poised for a breakout year. Through 14 games, Bass was playing a career-best nine minutes per night and had carved out a role as the Blue Jackets’ main enforcer, racking up hits and obviously plenty of penalty minutes as well. However, another shoulder injury ended Bass’ season and kept him out nearly all of 2012-13 as well. Just like in Ottawa, during his absence, Bass lost his role in Columbus. After a strong AHL season with the Blue Jackets then-affiliate, the Springfield Falcons, Bass signed with the Chicago Blackhawks hoping for another shot at the NHL. Instead, he played the entire year in the minors and made the move to Nashville ahead of the 2015-16 season. Last year, Bass enjoyed his best NHL season in some time with the Predators. Again, not much of a scorer, Bass failed to register a point in 17 regular season games, but instead contributed with gritty defensive play, strong forechecking, and winning battles along the boards, while keeping his time in the box under control. His two-way play was so valued, that the Predators started Bass in six playoff games, almost a third of what he had played in the regular season. He rewarded them with a strong postseason performance. So far in 2016-17, Bass had again been used sparingly in the regular season, with just nine (scoreless) games. However, Bass has also been out since December and very likely would have seen more time in the second half of the season for a Predators team that is often in need of grit and two-way ability in its bottom-six.
Though few likely put two and two together, with the announcement that veteran grinder Bass is done for the year, it makes even more sense that Nashville recently claimed another veteran grinder, Derek Grant, off of waivers and traded for yet another experienced two-way player, Cody McLeod, from the Colorado Avalanche. Though Grant is five years younger than Bass, their career numbers are eerily similar. Grant is not much of a scorer himself, with just seven assists in 79 games, including his four assists in 39 games this season with the Predators and Buffalo Sabres. However, since Grant’s arrival in Nashville four games ago, he has already dropped the gloves once and made a few key defensive plays. McLeod is not as much of a pure-checking player as Bass or Grant, as he can contribute on the scoreboard occasionally as well. In ten seasons with the Avs, the 32-year-old has 117 points in 659 games and already has a goal for the Preds. McLeod can also hit as well as anyone in the league and isn’t afraid to fight either. While McLeod spends a lot of time in the penalty box, he will more than make up for the loss of Bass with his veteran experience and hard-working, aggressive play. McLeod and Grant will make most Nashville fans forget about Bass, but a speedy recovery and healthy return is certainly wished. Bass will be an unrestricted free agent this summer.