After a day spent off the ice on Thursday, the Nashville Predators returned to Centennial Sportsplex on Friday to continue training camp.
With 51 players remaining on the roster, the team split into two new groups that were realigned on Friday with the first consisting of more seasoned NHL players, the second with players who are continuing to fight for a coveted NHL roster spot.
However, Head Coach Peter Laviolette cautioned not to read too much into the reorganization, stating that although one group contains noticeable veteran presence, it’s still training camp and jobs remain up for contention.
With less than two weeks until the Preds open the regular season, and just two preseason games remaining, Laviolette believes that now is the time to begin putting those players together who will are likely to have a spot on the Opening Night roster.
“At some point, you have to make splits and decisions,” Laviolette said. “I don’t want to sacrifice our team for the expense of training camp. The priority is to make sure we’re ready Oct. 8. Yes, we need to evaluate; yes, it’s a good point to look at the organization and see who’s ready to play on our team, but you’ve got to keep it first and foremost that our team needs to be ready to win on Oct. 8.”
As the bench boss said, evaluations are still being made. Saturday’s scrimmage at Ford Ice Center could offer another opportunity at game action for players on the bubble.
“If somebody goes out and is the best player in the scrimmage tomorrow, there’s a good chance they may play on Tuesday night [versus Columbus],” Laviolette said. “We’re still looking at everything right now.”
Forward James Neal, who left Wednesday’s game against Tampa Bay for precautionary reasons and missed the third period, did not practice Friday and is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Smarts Aid Jarnkrok’s Transition:
Forward Calle Jarnkrok could be making a change this season. After spending the 2014-15 campaign primarily playing as the Preds third-line center, the Swede has been skating as a winger throughout training camp, a transition due to the addition of players like Cody Hodgson, for example, who is also a centerman.
“I played as a wing a couple times before, and I don’t think it’s that much of a difference in playing center,” Jarnkrok said “I feel like I can focus a little bit more on offense and try to create scoring chances and try to score some more goals.”
Laviolette has called Jarnkrok one of the smartest players on the team and believes his intellectual abilities will help with the switch.
“What we’re trying to do is just maybe find some minutes for him and put him in a situation where he can create offense,” Laviolette said. “Where he plays, I don’t think it quite matters a much for him. He’s a really smart player and he understands things. He watches the game and sees the video and you coach him and he really gets it, almost on the first try. That makes him a guy that can move around and take on different assignments.”
Jarnkrok, who is celebrating his 24th birthday today, says he feels stronger and faster than last season and hopes to use that, as well as his brains, to his advantage. His fellow countryman Filip Forsberg believes he can.
“He’s always in the right spots,” Forsberg said of Jarnkrok. “Just looking at our training camp video, he’s just all over the place and knows exactly what to do and that’s perfect. Maybe on the wing he can fly a little bit more and create more chances offensively. That could be a huge add for our team as well.”
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