NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Brandon Yip had his first practice with Nashville on Friday after the team claimed him from Colorado off waivers the day before and he was looking forward to getting in the lineup Saturday against Chicago for the first time as a member of the Predators.
Coach Barry Trotz said he was undecided about what to do and said he would have some difficult decisions to make if he entered Yip, a right-handed shooting forward, into the lineup, because all of the Preds forwards are “playing really well” he said. Having said that, Trotz is eager to get a look at Yip, a 6-foot-1, 195-pound 26-year-old and said he was leaning towards playing him.
After four years at Boston University, Yip showed some promise as a rookie, with 11 goals in 32 games for the Avs, but over the last two seasons he has just 12 goals in his last 81 games. He played in only 10 games this season for the Avs and failed to register a point.
He said he was “ecstatic” when he learned about Nashville’s successful waiver claim. One of his college teammates was Preds forward Colin Wilson and during his childhood he played summer hockey with Nashville defenseman Shea Weber.
It’s not often that a player moves up in the standings when one team waives him and another claims him, as was the case with Nashville and Colorado. Yip said he hopes to “help battling down low and having some good puck possession and chipping in offensively when I can.” Trotz said he likes Yip’s size, skating ability and the release on his shot.
Options for Trotz to sit out would be Gabriel Bourque and rookie Craig Smith. Bourque has brought energy to the Preds, and are 9-2 since he was called up, though he has only one goal and two assists, while Smith has no points in his last four games and only one in his last 10.
Smith, a University of Wisconsin product, is not accustomed to playing this many games. Trotz was asked if Smith (9 goals, 17 assists), who selected for the SuperSkills competition at this coming weekend’s All-Star Weekend, had hit the proverbial wall.
“I think he did a little bit, probably about 10 or 11 games ago, I think he hit it,” Trotz said.
“Between the preseason and about game 40 in our schedule, he had played about 48, 50 games and, obviously, the excitement and the adrenaline and all that. Just the grind, he got into the grind. I think he hit that and I put him at center. I think mentally he’s getting re-charged again and I see his play starting to go up again.
“Usually, with some of the college guys, they hit a wall and they’re just not able to sustain it, so I brought his ice time back a bit and put him back at center where he really can be dynamic and just brought his ice time down a little bit and took the pressure off him mentally more than anything and now I see him having that great jump that he had early in the season. I see him tracking him sort of upwards. We’re hoping he’s re-charged and ready to go in the second half, which would be really good for him.”
Another option would be for Trotz to dress five defensemen and 13 forwards. “We will have an extra forward if he goes in,” Trotz said. Nashville is currently carrying 14 forwards.
Note: Nashville’s All-Star defenseman Ryan Suter will be out on Saturday but said he could have played if necessary. He would like to play on Monday against Columbus and is leaving out hope that he will play in the All-Star Game next weekend.
Colin Wilson - David Legwand - Patric Hornqvist
Sergei Kostitsyn - Mike Fisher - Martin Erat
Jordin Tootoo - Jerred Smithson - Gabriel Bourque/Brandon Yip
Matt Halischuk - Craig Smith - Brian McGrattan/Nick Spaling
Francis Bouillon - Shea Weber
Roman Josi - Kevin Klein
Jack Hillen - Ryan Ellis
Out: D Ryan Suter
Viktor Stalberg - Jonathan Toews - Patrick Kane
Andrew Shaw - Marcus Kruger - Marian Hossa
Andrew Brunette - David Bolland - Jimmy Hayes
Michael Frolik - Jamal Mayers - Ben Smith
Duncan Keith - Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson - Nick Leddy
Sean O’Donnell - Steve Montador