As a two time nominated GM of the year candidate and seen throughout the NHL as the GM who can do the most with so very little (similar to his coach, Barry Trotz), David Poile has been put on the hot seat this summer for his moves or lack thereof in regards to building a playoff caliber team that can go deeper than last season. Although many disagree with what David Poile has done over the summer, Poile himself finds the silver lining regarding the state of the Nashville Predators and believes they will be “better than people think.”
On XM Satellite Radio yesterday, David Poile was a guest on the NHL Home Ice Show and was asked some of the tougher questions dealing with what and how the Predators are going to deal with the upcoming season. One of the first questions dealt with the contract situation of Weber, Suter, and Rinne. These three players make up the core of the Nashville Predators franchise and what exemplifies Predator-style hockey relying on solid defense and goaltending. Poile admitted that signing these three players before the end of next year would be a “tall order,” but was confident about a resolution that would have Nashville positively pursuing signing all three players.
The next topic revolved around the youth and the talented farm system that the Predators are fortunate enough to develop through great scouting, drafting, ,the junior hockey clubs, and AHL/ECHL affiliates. Poile pointed out a few young players that he believes will start to chip in offensively and defensively for the squad:
Nick Spaling – “Strong possibility of moving up the depth charts and beginning to contribute offensively”
Jonathan Blum – “Getting bigger and stronger…top 4 defenseman for the Nashville Predators…with 20 games will be the 4th most experienced defenseman on the Predators roster (if Bouillon can’t return)”
Ryan Ellis – “Has strong chance to make the team out of training camp…special player…potential to quarterback the power play in the future…road to Nashville is still through Milwaukee though”
Austin Watson – “Needs to develop more…solid player…needs to play top line in junior hockey…great possible addition to the US Junior Squad”
Towards the end of the segment, Poile was asked about the offensive woes of the Nashville Predators. Nashville ended the season with 213 goals (21st in the NHL) and 24 PPG (24th in the NHL). Poile believes that the roster “as is” is going to be “better than people think” with the addition of a dark-horse goal scorer in Niclas Bergfors and the stepping up in play from Spaling, Colin Wilson, Patric Hornqvist, and Mike Fisher. Poile goes on to state that Fisher will be a key leader of the team and predicts him to score 20 goals while playing with “two young wingers.”
It is a GM’s job to help quell the fears and unrest of the fans of their team by conducting interviews like this. And many Nashville Predators fans have heard this same sentiment year in and year out. But so far, Poile has been dead on in his predictions and the team seems to gel together and play with such a ferocious team mentality that it can’t be coincidence that Poile’s statements ring true year after year.
From top to bottom, Poile and Co. are able to scout players, develop players, and promote them at crucial times to aid the team when they need it most, and while most everybody has been clamoring that at some point we are going to “dismiss the old guard and let the rooks play,” this may be the year that Poile calls that bluff and the “Renaissance” that the rookies might ignite will be just another season that Poile can be recognized for a possible 3rd nomination for GM of the year.