Making Moves: NSH Recalls Fiala & Bass

Source: Preds.NHL.com

After losing their fourth game in a row, the Predators organization made some moves today to hopefully spice up the lineup a bit. At least, we hope it will.

Earlier today, it was released that center Cody Hodgson was being placed on waivers. With only three goals and eight points in 39 games this season, it was time to free up his roster spot with someone else. As Adam Vingan pointed out, Hodgson notched 20 goals in 72 games during the 2013-14 season. However, in the two seasons since, he’s only managed nine goals in 117 games. Needless to say, David Poile gambled that perhaps Hodgson would regain that momentum under new leadership (i.e. Mike Ribeiro). Unfortunately, despite being a really great guy, it just didn’t work out in the end.

Along with Hodgson being placed on waivers, left wing Viktor Arvidsson has been reassigned to the Milwaukee Admirals, thus freeing up yet another spot with the team. Ardvisson has three goals and two assists in the 24 games he has played with Nashville this season, but as of late, he has looked a bit lost on the ice at times. Being only 22-years-old, Arvidsson has plenty of time to re-coop in Milwaukee to hone his skills.

Freeing up yet another roster space – if but temporarily – is the announcement that Colin Wilson has officially been placed on the Injured Reserve after suffering a lower-body injury.

So, what moves did David Poile make this afternoon?

Well, from this little teaser and the headline, you probably guessed that the little Swiss spitfire that is Kevin Fiala was recalled from the Admirals to join the big boys. Fiala, who has been making quite a name for himself in the AHL, was notably upset when he was cut from the training camp roster back in September. Since then, Fiala has been playing rather well, but has had his share of controversy, including a two-game suspension back in November. So he has a bit of a temper, which most equated due to his discontent with being in the minor leagues. However, if the kid wanted any kind of chance to prove himself, this is it. Here’s a little bit from the Predators regarding Fiala’s recall:

Fiala, 19 (7/22/96), has 12 points (4g-8a) in his last 13 games, and is tied for the Admirals team lead in assists (15) and ranks third in points (21) in 34 AHL games this season. The St. Gallen, Switzerland, native has appeared in a pair of contests for the Predators – a 3-2 overtime win against Montreal on March 24, 2015, and in Game Four of the 2015 Western Conference Quarterfinals vs. Chicago, the longest game in franchise history. Nashville’s first choice, 11th overall (first round), in the 2014 Entry Draft, Fiala started the 2014-15 season with HV-71 of the Swedish Hockey League before being assigned to Milwaukee (AHL) following the World Junior Championship, recording 17 points (9g-8a) in his first 26 AHL games.

Bass, 29 (1/7/87), played in his first two games for the Predators on Dec. 1 vs. Arizona and Dec. 3 vs. Florida, going scoreless while averaging 6:31 of ice time. In 21 games for the Admirals this season, the Owen Sound, Ontario, native has five points (1g-4a) and 50 penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 205-pound center has appeared in 51 career NHL games with Nashville, Ottawa (where he was a teammate of Mike Fisher) and Columbus, posting five points (2g-3a) and 71 penalty minutes. Ottawa’s third choice, 95th overall (fourth round), in the 2005 Entry Draft, Bass helped the Binghamton Senators win the 2011 Calder Cup as AHL champions, in addition to winning the 2011 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, as presented annually to the AHL’s man of the year for service to his local community.

Ah yes, the Predators also called up center Cody Bass as well. Bass has obtained one goal and four assists in 21 games this season with the Admirals, so this be a good shot for 29-year-old, too.

So, will these roster moves be the saving grace the team needs to regain the momentum needed to gain entry into the post-season? There’s only one way to find out.

Trevor Murphy signs ELC with Preds

Image Source: OHL

The Predators kicked off training camp today and went ahead and signed Trevor Murphy to a three-year, entry-level contract while they were at it. Here’s the official word from the Predators:

Nashville, Tenn. (September 17, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Thursday that the team has signed defenseman Trevor Murphy to a three-year entry-level contract.

Murphy, 20 (7/17/95), has spent the past four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League split between the Peterborough Petes (2011-12) and the Windsor Spitfires (2012-15), amassing 140 points (42g-98a) and 296 penalty minutes in 235 games. Serving as an alternate captain for his hometown Spitfires in 2014-15, the Windsor, Ont., native ranked third among OHL defensemen in goals (24), tied for fourth in points (63) and ranked fifth in assists (39). The 5-10, 175 pounder was also one of just two OHL blueliners to post at least 40 points and 100 penalty minutes during the campaign.

A teammate of Predators forward Austin Watson with Peterborough in 2011-12, Murphy attended Predators Development Camp in July, Rookie Camp last week, and is currently in attendance at Training Camp.

Murphy has some pretty stout numbers for a defenseman with the OHL, so it’s no surprise the Predators want to see how he fairs in the minors with Milwaukee. I’d say he is definitely worth keeping an eye on for sure.

 

Preds fall to Hawks 3-1; Time to Rest Rinne?

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Source: Kristen Jerkins Photography

Nashville hasn’t lost a home game since being pummeled 3-0 by the Penguins on October 25th, but another one was bound to happen sooner than later. Unfortunately for Preds fans, it came at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks tonight. What could add insult to injury is the fact that Chicago played the Montreal Canadiens last night at home, which usually puts said team at a disadvantage compared to a team [Nashville] who has a day to rest. Leave it to Chicago to bypass that hindrance and jump the Predators in the Central Division standings. You read that correctly:
Screen shot 2014-12-06 at 8.49.31 PMLooking at the glass-half-full, this loss wasn’t as devastating (stats wise) as it might feel; especially if you have to listen to belligerent Hawks “fans” as you leave the arena tonight. Though Nashville was only given two powerplay chances and managed to detour Chicago’s four chances, those were still two advantages the Predators failed to capitalize on that could’ve changed the game. However, the Blackhawks do currently hold the best penalty kill in the league, but that’s no excuse. The Predators are now 1-for-45 on powerplay goals at home this season; 28th in league just above the Wild and the Sabres. It is a weakness in advantage that is slowly catching up to the Predators as they push forward into the season.

Another factor to look at is impact on Pekka Rinne. Though there is no way you’d rest him while playing divisional opponents, when is the man going to get a break? Rinne has appeared in the 23 games thus far, whereas Carter Hutton has only seen three games worth of ice time. Yes, Pekka has been the much needed asset for securing many of Nashville’s 17 wins, but it may be time to give the Finnish Phenom a rest or two. Perhaps that will be the case for Tuesday’s game against Colorado; though a Central Division opponent, they sit four rankings below the Predators in sixth. However, ranking position means nothing if you’re goaltender isn’t on point, but Hutton has had enough rest and might want to stretch his legs. Truly, the only other time Pekka might legitimately get a break is on the 22nd when Nashville goes into Columbus. Yes, Pekka Rinne has saved many a butt and missing him from the net is definitely a risk (See last season), but starting him every single game is also a risk. You may play your best golf with your 9-iron, but eventually you’ll need your putter.

Kudos to Colin Wilson tonight for not allowing the Blackhawks to celebrate a goose egg tonight. His wrister past former Mississippi RiverKings (and Milwaukee Admirals, yea) goaltender, Scott Darling was his sixth for the season; assisted by Victor Bartley (1) and Mike Fisher (2). If you are stuck on the Mississippi RiverKings mention, that’s because it’s a Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL) team and he is the first of said league to make it to the NHL. Jumping around that stat, Colin Wilson is certainly on his way to having one of the best seasons of his career. I mean, this kid went from constantly being tossed into Trotzy’s Doghouse to actually getting ice time to find his comfort zone. He has put up great numbers in the past, but I am foreseeing a much better performance from the 25-year-old under Laviolette’s system for sure.

Welp, don’t get too down, Preds fans; it’s Saturday night and, just remember: the Predators are doing 100x better than the Titans and shhh! Hockey’s not supposed to do better than football!

Filip Forsberg to Play for Team Sweden in WJC

Image Courtesy: Zimbio.com

After much talk, the Predators officially announced this afternoon that Filip Forsberg would be loaned to Team Sweden for the 2014 World Junior Championships, which are scheduled to begin on the 26th. Sweden, who have already established themselves as a contender for gold, will only reap the benefits of adding Forsberg to their lineup.

Last year, Forsberg notched three goals and two assists in just six games, though Sweden would finish in second behind Team USA (and Seth Jones). This year, we suspect he will see even more success with his homeland team.

Here is the official release from the Nashville Predators:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has loaned forward Filip Forsberg to the Swedish National Team for the 2014 World Junior Championships, taking place Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Malmo, Sweden.

Forsberg, 19 (8/13/94), has posted five points (1g-4a) in 12 games with Nashville, and eight points (3g-5a) in seven games with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals in 2013-14. The Ostervala, Sweden native helped Sweden win gold at the 2012 World Junior Championships, and captained the Swedes to a silver medal at the 2013 World Juniors, being named to the tournament’s All-Star Team in the process.

As you may recall, Filip Forsberg was just recently removed from the IR and sent down to Milwaukee to get some ice time, but some time with a more familiar setting my do the trick of getting back into the swing of things. However, in his first game back on Friday, Forsberg scored two goals and the Milwaukee Admirals won 4-0.

 

Matt Halischuk signs with Jets

No more happy Halischuk in Nashville…

While we were writing the Jonathon Blum post, we completely missed the announcement of now former Nashville Predator, Matt Halischuk signing with the Winnipeg Jets.

Like we mentioned in the Blum post, Halischuk is a diamond in the rough; he has potential, but he had a difficult time finding his niche while with the Preds. The Right Winger signed a one-year, two-way deal with Winnipeg this afternoon, which will pay him $650,000 on the NHL level and $250,000 on the AHL level.

But don’t be sad, Hally-faithfuls. With the new realignment, Halischuk won’t be going very far and you’ll see him more often than not as Winnipeg is sitting pretty in Conference B.

We wish you well, Halischuk!

From AHL to College Teams; Where to Find Hockey during Lockout

From the Knoxville Ice Bears to the Mississippi RiverKings, there is hockey if you know where to find it.

Welp, Day 1 of the NHL Lockout is coming to a close and, as you might have expected, the NHL and the NHLPA are nowhere near coming to an agreement. Fans across North America are teary-eyed and sort of lost, not exactly knowing what to do without a hockey season to look forward to. Where as prominent hockey communities like New York and all of Canada have other outlets to cling to other than the NHL, those of us in non-traditional markets are left twiddling our thumbs, wishing on stars every night for the big wigs to come to an agreement… or are we?

Many would believe the South is a non-traditional hockey market and, in all fairness, it truly is. Baseball and college football rule this area, with hockey clinging like icicles in certain parts of the region. With Atlanta losing yet another NHL expansion team to Canada, it’s hard to believe hockey could survive somewhere like Georgia, Alabama, or even Mississippi, yet it thrives if you know just where to look.

For those who believe the South cannot withhold and establish a thriving hockey franchise, I give you the Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL).

Yes, the South has its own professional league.

If you’re a devoted hockey follower, you have probably heard of the SPHL, but for all the newcomers that have never dealt with a NHL Lockout before, there is still hockey to be found! Teams in the SPHL include:

The Huntsville Havoc – Huntsville, Alabama
The Knoxville Ice Bears – Knoxville, Tennessee
The Augusta RiverHawks – Augusta, Georgia
The Columbus Cottonmouths – Columbus, Georgia
The Mississippi RiverKings – Southaven, Mississippi (Memphis)
The Fayetteville FireAntz – Fayetteville, North Carolina
The Mississippi Surge – Biloxi, Mississippi
The Louisiana Ice Gators – LaFayette, LA
The Pensacola Ice Flyers – Pensacola, Florida

Although there have been many franchises that have folded over the years, from the teams listed, hockey has managed to thrive in the South, even before the Nashville Predators arrived in the Music City. For Predators fans, the Knoxville Ice Bears, the Mississippi RiverKings, and the Huntsville Havoc would be the nearest teams to visit, with the Havoc being the closest (2 hours). Although it isn’t exactly the boys we are used to cheering for, you could end up finding your own Pekka Rinne or Shea Weber in Biloxi, Mississippi.

Let’s also not forget our college teams also have a love for hockey. Wether it’s an actual team or just a club, you’d be surprised who has a hockey setup on campus. Here’s a list of a few colleges with hockey outlets:

Vanderbilt Commodores – Nashville, TN
The Tennessee Ice VOLS – Knoxville, TN
The Ole Miss Ice Rebels – Oxford, MS
Georgia Tech – Atlanta, GA
–  Memphis Tigers Hockey – Memphis, TN
The Alabama Frozen Tide – Tuscaloosa, AL
Florida Gators Hockey – Gainesville, FL
The UGA Ice Dogs – Athens, GA

Who knew the SEC was prominent in sports other than football, baseball, and basketball? Now, that’s just a handful of colleges with hockey clubs and/or teams; we can’t list them all. Your best bet to see if your college (or one near by) has a hockey club or team is to check out your college’s website.

If the SPHL and the college teams just don’t do it for you, there are always the AHL and ECHL teams across the country, all affiliates with the NHL teams. As you know, the Milwaukee Admirals are the farm team to the Predators, but Wisconsin’s a good distance away from Nashville, Tennessee. The closest AHL team to Music City would be the Charlotte Checkers out of Charlotte, North Carolina. If you have a soft side for the Carolina Hurricanes, this would be the AHL team for you. For all of the AHL teams across the country and their NHL affiliates, just visit the AHL site here.

As for ECHL, the closest to the Nashville area are the Greenville Road Warriors of Greenville, South Carolina and the Gwinnett Gladiators of Duluth, Georgia. The Road Warriors are the ECHL affiliate of the New York Rangers and the Gladiators are the Phoenix Coyotes affiliate.

As you can tell, there’s still hockey to be found, even if the NHL and NHLPA can’t come to a logical agreement. And, may we add, the hockey to be found is not limited to this list alone. So plan a day trip, road trip, or whatever to support these minor league and college teams. Heck, even if the NHL Lockout comes to an end, it’s still a great idea to support these smaller, lesser known teams. Truthfully, they are the teams that keep hockey alive in the South.

What hockey team will you be supporting during the lockout?