(1) System Implementation: The 2014 edition of training camp for the Nashville Predators will feature a new head coach at the helm in Peter Laviolette. The first camp of the Laviolette era begins with the promise of a “more offensive, push-forward attack,” quite a change from past campaigns. After being hired as a midseason replacement in his last two roles, the opening of training camp this week will be the first time Laviolette has been with a new team and running their training camp for more than a decade (2001 with the New York Islanders). Also the first training camp for the Predators with a new coach since 1998, Nashville’s coaching staff and players will be focused on implementing a new method of play on the ice. Training camp is where Laviolette will finally be able to put his touch on the reborn version of the Predators.
(2) Chemistry: Nashville added five veterans this offseason and a new set of prospects at the NHL Draft, including players like forward Kevin Fiala. James Neal, Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro, Derek Roy and Anton Volchenkov will all be added to the mix of already existing Predators and camp will show how the new puzzle pieces could gel. Pay special attention to the Predators top six forward group as Laviolette experiments with different versions of his top two lines. Will Ribeiro center Neal and the top line? How do Colin Wilson and Viktor Stalberg benefit from new linemates? We’ll find out in camp.
(3) Pekka Rinne’s Health: After a 2013-14 season where he missed 51 games, goaltender Pekka Rinne was looking for an opportunity to play against top talent prior to a new NHL campaign; he found it at the 2014 IIHF World Championships. The 31-year-old Finn produced three shutouts in nine games for Finland and was also named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player (MVP). It was quite a showing for the netminder on a big stage and perhaps a sign that he’s returned to the elite level of play he’s shown before in Predators Gold. An unencumbered and healthy Rinne in training camp will allow the goaltender to focus on adjusting to Laviolette’s new defensive and offensive schemes.
For numbers 4 and 5 click here