It looks as if center Rich Peverley will get a plum assignment tonight in Memphis when the Predators battle the Columbus Blue Jackets in a neutral-site exhibition game. The 6'0", 185-pound native of Guelph, Ont. was slotted between dynamic wingers Alexander Radulov and Martin Erat in Thursday's practice, which was comprised of players traveling for Nashville's second contest of the 2006 preseason.
Peverley, who scored 46 points in 65 games with Nashville's affiliate in Milwaukee last season, seems like a good fit for the young Radulov, according to Predators head coach Barry Trotz.
"Both are very intelligent players and play off each other very well," Trotz said. "Rich Peverley is a real sound playmaking guy. He's got a really good skill-set. Radulov, obviously, is a pure, instinctive goal scorer. He's got great skills. He makes things happen. Lots of passion around the net. He finishes. So those two guys together with a guy like Marty Erat, for instance, hopefully they can create some chemistry."
The use of Peverley in Memphis as opposed to someone like off-season acquisition Jason Arnott may not have been Trotz's top choice, but will allow the coaches to evaluate the organizational depth. Trotz, who yesterday explained how slight injuries to forwards Arnott, Steve Sullivan and Paul Kariya have forced his hand when creating exhibition game rosters, elaborated on that Thursday. "It took out what you thought maybe was one of your top two lines for your team during the year," he said. "That sort of blew that up, so our lineup will be very similar to the lineup we had maybe in Columbus for that first game."
Trotz said he would have liked to get the three big names into the lineup early on in the preseason schedule. "Obviously you want to get your guys in as much as possible," he said. "You can practice and you can do all the things that you want, but you're not going to get the tempo and the intensity of a game. Also, we're practicing in a cooler facility and then you go into a real warm facility and there's a big difference in terms of your body being conditioned to that. It's something that we need to--and especially our key guys need to--get a couple games so they can condition themselves to those rinks."
In other news, defensive prospects Ryan Parent and Cody Franson were reassigned to their junior teams Thursday. Trotz had nothing but praise for the members of Nashville's 2005 NHL Entry Draft class.
"Both I'm very impressed with," Trotz said. "Really great prospects. They probably played well enough to deserve a [preseason] game, but they know the process. They understand we're looking at other guys right now and they're not going to play on our team. If they can't play on our team, they'll play on their junior teams. It's only right that they go back. We are extremely happy with their development and they're both going to be playing in the National Hockey League very shortly."
NOTES: Trotz updated the injury status of several players Thursday morning: Center David Legwand (off-season knee surgery) is skating and they are hoping he can resume contact drills Monday. "He's passed all his tests in terms of his strength," Trotz said... Forwards Jason Arnott and Steve Sullivan did not skate on Thursday but will hopefully be on the ice Friday, according to Trotz. "I don't think it's anything too serious," the coach said. "Both those guys had the athletic hernia last year, they had that repaired. So there's going to be some soreness. We think it's, as much as anything, some scar tissue you sort of stretch out a little bit and it's a little sore"... Defenseman Alex Henry, who has a slight crack in his foot after taking two Columbus shots on the same skate in Nashville's first exhibition game, is probably out through the weekend... Goaltender Karl Goehring, who was injured in a training camp collision with Jordin Tootoo, could be back in action on Saturday.