Proving that defense is the key to a Stanley Cup Finals run, the NHL Network released its list of top 20 defensemen in the NHL and the Nashville Predators were stocked full of them. They had the most blueliners on the list, including P.K. Subban (#6), Roman Josi (#7) and Ryan Ellis (#19).
Subban, coming off his first year with the Predators after being traded from Montreal, had a solid season even though his numbers dropped from his previous three years with the Canadiens. Subban finished with 10 goals and 30 assists for the year, but made the all-star team and proved to be a pest to every team’s top scorers.
Josi’s season was also down from previous years, but his numbers also stood out with 12 goals and 37 assists, giving him three straight years with 49 points or more. Ellis leaped into the spotlight this year as he took his game to another level this year with a career high in goals with 16. He also had 11 power play points, three game-winning goals and led the team with 137 blocked shots.
Of course, Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson was first on the list, but only a couple other teams had more than one player on the top-20 list. With the addition of Kevin Shattenkirk (#15), the New York Rangers had two defensemen on the list with Ryan McDonagh at #17. The Calgary Flames also boasted two blueliners in the top 20, Dougie Hamilton (#16) and Mark Giordano (#18).
- In his final column, the St. Louis Post Dispatch’s Jim Rutherford writes that while the talk is that Alex Steen has regressed over the past couple of years, he believes that the 33-year-old wing has been cast in the wrong role. He believes that Steen’s 33-goal season in 2013-14 was an anomaly and he should not be considered as a 30-goal scorer. If looked at from a 20-goal scoring point of view, Steen’s numbers (33 goals in the last two seasons) make more sense.
- Rutherford in the same piece adds that he does not believe any of the Blues top prospects, Klim Kostin, Jordan Kyrou or Tage Thompson, have much of a chance of breaking with the Blues after training camp. He said Kostin is still recovering from an injury and just moved to the U.S. a couple of months ago. Kyrou is ticketed to go back to his junior team, while Thompson struggled adjusting to the AHL.
- Rutherford adds that Robby Fabbri is expected to be ready for training camp after tearing his ACL. He believes he will start the season off as the team’s center, but if the team is not scoring enough, he could easily see Fabbri forced to move back to the wing position.