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Predators' Jones has help navigating life in Nashville

by Dan Rosen

NOTE TO READERS: Over the Boards is undergoing a format change for the 2014-15 season and transitioning into a blog that will be updated several times per week by Dan Rosen. It will feature news and information, quotes and anecdotes similar to what you have been able to find here in the weekly notebook. Rosen's Mailbag will still appear in the Over the Boards blog every Wednesday.

If Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones gets into an argument with his roommate about cleaning up, doing the dishes or taking out the trash, he can count on one thing being true:

He won't win.


In what year do you believe the Islanders will be a serious playoff contender? -- @samfeygin

Why not this season? No, I'm serious. Why not this season? OK, I'm not sold on the Islanders being a serious playoff contender this season either (I assume you're not by your question, Sam). However, I do think the Islanders are heading in the right direction, finally, and I do expect them to be better than they were last season. I think it would be a disappointment if the Islanders are not at least in the playoff hunt come late March and early April this season. They may not be able to get in, but they should be in the hunt. They have the goaltending and the high-end scoring to be in the mix in the Eastern Conference.

The Islanders, though, still need to bide their time for Ryan Strome, Brock Nelson, Calvin de Haan and Griffin Reinhart to develop before I can say for sure they're going to be a serious threat. Coming behind them are Michael Dal Colle and Sebastian Collberg. You can't build through the draft and not have your top draft picks work out. It's wait-and-see still, but this is a big year for Strome, Nelson, de Haan and Reinhart, and really for the Islanders at large.

Which defenseman do you see the Bruins trading away? -- @ZigFracassi

Johnny Boychuk. It has to be him. He's entering the final year of his contract, so he's the most tradable, and the team that gets him will be getting a solid top-four, right-handed defenseman with a booming shot from the point. I wonder if Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli would trade with an Atlantic Division rival, because the Detroit Red Wings could use Boychuk.

If he does trade Boychuk, Chiarelli likely won't bring back a NHL player because the idea is to clear salary-cap room to sign restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Boychuk's contract carries a salary-cap charge of approximately $3.3667 million, according to The Bruins might have enough space to sign Smith and Krug if they clear Boychuk's contract and put center Marc Savard on long-term injured reserve, which will happen.

Chiarelli could trade Adam McQuaid, but it wouldn't clear the cap space the Bruins need to sign Smith and Krug. McQuaid's contract carries a $1.5667 million cap charge.

What team or teams do you see making the playoffs in 2015 that didn't get in in 2014? -- @kbock73

I have picked the New Jersey Devils and Vancouver Canucks to get in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, replacing the Philadelphia Flyers and San Jose Sharks from last season.

I'm obviously very far out on a limb with the Sharks. I might be on my own island. But you asked who would get in, not who would be knocked out, so I don't feel the need to defend myself here.

The big question for the Canucks is whether Nick Bonino can be a productive No. 2 center? If the answer is yes, and Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin return to form, the Canucks have a great chance to get back in the playoffs with their depth and goaltending (Ryan Miller).

The big question for the Devils is will they score enough? I think they will because I think Mike Cammalleri is the type of scorer they didn't have last season. Jaromir Jagr had to carry the Devils offense for stretches of time. It's too much to ask him to do it again, though I wouldn't be surprised. Cammalleri can do it. And it's hard to imagine the Devils going winless in the shootout again.

What do you think has become of Marc-Andre Fleury? Some subtle hints of not re-signing him. -- @driscnutz8

Fleury has to prove he can be a playoff performer again before the Pittsburgh Penguins give him another contract. It's just that simple. He's long been one of the top regular-season goalies, but his playoff performances have left a lot to be desired. Why would Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford invest big money on a long-term contract for a goalie he isn't sure he can trust? The Penguins are right to let Fleury play out the final year of his contract to see what happens. It will be interesting to see if they balk and give him a new contract after Jan. 1. I think the right play here is to wait and see. They know what they have in the regular season. They need to see more in the playoffs.

If you have a question you want answered in Over the Boards, send it in a tweet to @drosennhl. The Mailbag will be a weekly feature here.

Amy Jones, Seth's mother, is still the boss as long as she's living under the same roof as her 19-year-old son, who is entering his second season in the NHL and second year of renting a house in Brentwood, Tenn., with her as part of an agreement they made before he turned pro.

"I was supposed to live with her for three years just to get settled, but it's two now. I got it cut down to two," Jones said in an excited, yet surprised tone of voice. "It keeps you out of trouble at home. I'm underage, so I wouldn't be going out anyway, but just being away from the city it keeps you very even and more focused, especially as a young kid."

Jones, who turns 20 on Oct. 3, said it was strange for him last season to see teammates leaving the rink to go home to their wives and kids as he left to go home to his mom, who telecommutes to her job in Dallas from an office set up in their rented home.

"It's a bit of an eye-opener, but people go through it," he said. "I lived with Shea [Weber] for training camp and preseason before my mom moved down, so that was different. But my mom and I have a great relationship, so it's been fun."

Predators coach Peter Laviolette said he doesn't think he's ever had a player at one of his NHL stops who still lived with his mother during the season, but he wonders if Jones is a trendsetter, especially when you consider the success he had as a rookie last season.

Jones had 25 points in 77 games and was fourth on the team in ice time per game at 19:37. Former coach Barry Trotz trusted him to play in all situations because of the maturity he showed, a maturity Laviolette thinks stems from the stability Jones has at home.

"When you've been raised the right way and you're able to continue that at 18, 19, 20 years old, to have that stability from family, I think that's just incredible and it maybe should happen even more than it does," Laviolette said. "As a parent, I can tell you that I think it has an impact. You can continue to help develop your children in the game of life, handle the ups and downs that go with life, that go with hockey. Sometimes family is the best thing for you. It really helps keep you on track with what you're trying to do on the ice as well as off the ice.

"You don't hear of it as much, but man, it sure makes an awful lot of sense, doesn't it?"

Jones certainly thinks so, but he also thinks one more season with mom will be enough.

"Everyone has to grow up at some point," he said.

World Championship served Laviolette well

Two hours before boarding a flight to Germany to begin coaching the United States at the 2014 IIHF World Championship, Laviolette was on the phone with Nashville general manager David Poile accepting the job to become the second coach in Predators history.

"I literally took the job at 9 o'clock, was on the flight at 11 o'clock and left the country for 26 days," Laviolette said. "It happened and I found myself over in Germany."

Laviolette didn't think of it when he accepted the job, but his timing couldn't have been better.

The Predators had 10 players representing five countries at the World Championship, including Americans Craig Smith and Jones, who were playing for Laviolette.

Not only did Laviolette get the rare opportunity to coach two of his new players before his first training camp with his new team, but he got to have in-person meetings with a number of others, including goalie Pekka Rinne, defensemen Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm, and forward Calle Jarnkrok.

In addition, Laviolette got to work the bench with Predators assistant coach Phil Housley and work off the ice with video coach Lawrence Feloney, who were on his U.S. staff.

"It served a really good purpose," Laviolette said. "It allowed me to start the process of introductions and watching them play. Certainly working with Seth and Craig was an advantage for me as a new coach coming in. To get to work with players and know them, that's the best scenario when it comes to meeting new players."

However, Laviolette kept his new job a secret from the players, particularly Jones and Smith, until the Predators announced it publicly on May 6.

"It all came out maybe three or four days into the trip over there," he said. "I waited for David and for everything to be completed back here. With respect to that I made sure they got done what they needed to get done and put a plan in place for how they wanted to do things."

Phaneuf to play with Polak?

In talking about defenseman Roman Polak, Toronto Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle dropped the following little nugget of information in a recent phone conversation:

"We see him [Polak] possibly with an opportunity to play with Phaneuf and chew some minutes against some other team's top lines," Carlyle said.

Polak is a righty who plays the right side. If he plays with Phaneuf, that means Phaneuf will have to move to the left side. Phaneuf is a lefty who had been playing on the right side with Carl Gunnarsson, who was traded to the Blues for Polak, mainly because of the Maple Leafs' formerly imbalanced defense corps.


Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby's scouting report on his new teammate, defenseman Christian Ehrhoff:

"I think he's all-around solid, both ways. He's got a great shot. He can skate. He can make a good first pass. Defensively, he's not the most physical guy, but he competes and he blocks shots and he's got a long reach, so he gets stick on puck a lot. We lost some guys who logged a lot of minutes and played big roles for us on defense [Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen], so being able to replace those guys with a guy like that, we're pretty fortunate."

Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle discussing every coach's wish of rolling four lines, all with the ability to score:

"I know everybody says that, but how many teams have Mike Richards on the fourth line? So there is a little bit of a skewed thing that's taking place."

However, with three righties (Polak, Cody Franson and Stephane Robidas) and three lefties (Phaneuf, Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly), it seems reasonable for Phaneuf to move to his natural side.

Carlyle likes the idea of pairing Polak with Phaneuf because they're both big, mobile, experienced defensemen. He sees it as a similar pair to what the St. Louis Blues had with Polak and Barret Jackman.

"He can play strong, defensive minutes both in 5-on-5 and penalty killing," Carlyle said of Polak. "We looked at the addition of him as adding a bigger, stronger body back there. He brings competitiveness and is a little stiffer on the back end. He's played against the top lines in the League, and he's been paired up a lot of the time with Barret Jackman."

One more from Toronto

Carlyle isn't ruling out the possibility of 18-year-old rookie William Nylander making the Maple Leafs' opening-night roster, even if the odds appear stacked against him with the number of forwards Toronto has under contract.

Toronto selected Nylander with the No. 8 pick in the 2014 NHL Draft.

"Any good young hockey player has a chance when they come to camp," Carlyle said. "The NHL has definitely changed its outlook on young players. Young players get more of an opportunity and they provide useful minutes. We think he's got a skillset and skating ability that he's close, but training camp is going to be a big challenge for him."

If Nylander doesn't make the opening-night roster he could join the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League or go to Sweden to play in the Swedish Elite League.

Nyquist learned something else last season

In addition to figuring out that his skillset and high hockey IQ can lead to significant results on the ice in the NHL, Detroit Red Wings forward Gustav Nyquist learned one important lesson off the ice last season.

Nyquist, a Swede, figured out English is the only language players are allowed to use in the Red Wings dressing room.

"Yeah, and I learned that pretty quickly because sometimes I would ask something in Swedish and they would always answer me back in English and make sure I knew," Nyquist said. "I think it's a good rule. It's just respect for other guys. I think it's a big plus for our leadership. That's how they handle things. You learn pretty fast as a young guy what it means to be a Red Wing."

Nyquist, though, said he quickly felt at home in the Red Wings dressing room last season because he was surrounded by so many Swedes (defensemen Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson; forwards Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Daniel Alfredsson, Mikael Samuelsson, and Joakim Andersson; and goalie Jonas Gustavsson).

"It's in English only, though," he said. "When we're at the rink it's always in English. If I say something they'll be like, 'Hey, English.'"

Kronwall eager to work with Granato

Although he played 13 NHL seasons as a forward, Tony Granato will handle the defensemen and the penalty kill as an assistant coach with the Red Wings this season. Kronwall said he's excited to work with Granato after previously learning under the tutelage of Paul MacLean, Brad McCrimmon and Bill Peters.

"I've heard really good things about him," Kronwall said of Granato. "He's an ex-player, and that's something I value big-time. He's someone who has been in all the situations we're going to be in, so I'm excited."

Jim Hiller, a first-time NHL assistant coach, will handle the forwards and run the power play. Andrew Brewer will serve as the coordinator of coaching while handling the duties of the video coach as well. His day-to-day work with the players will be limited.


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