- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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At the NHL draft in June coach Barry Trotz spoke like a man who had just watched his house burn down. "You can sit around and mourn what you no longer have," he said at the end of a week in which his team shipped 22-goal scorer Scott Hartnell and frontline defenseman Kimmo Timonen to Philadelphia and pricey goaltender Tomas Vokoun to Florida, getting only draft picks in return, "or you can maximize what's there." With a possible ownership change in the works, G.M. David Poile cut payroll to make the Predators more attractive to prospective buyers.
Trotz, the only coach the 10-year-old franchise has ever had, deserves better. For most of last season he had his entertaining squad fighting for the NHL's best record. But because of the roster purge, that won't happen this year: In addition to Hartnell, Timonen and Vokoun, the team also let star forwards Peter Forsberg and Paul Kariya slip away in free agency.
What's left? Start with centers David Legwand and captain Jason Arnott, who tied for the team lead with 27 goals. Then add goalie Chris Mason, who finished with the league's second-best save percentage (.925) and made Vokoun expendable. Beyond that, there are few sure things.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
LAST SEASON 34-35-13 (10th in West)
KEY ADDITIONS LW Paul Kariya, LW Keith Tkachuk
KEY LOSSES RW Dallas Drake, RW Radek Dvorak
After Andy Murray replaced Mike Kitchen as coach last December, the Blues awoke on the mornings of road games to required reading that had been slipped under their hotel room doors: detailed scouting reports that Murray expected them to memorize. The added insight helped St. Louis, which had begun the season 7-17-4 under Kitchen, catch fire and finish on a 27-18-9 run. "When [ Murray] came, the whole world turned around for our club," says goaltender Manny Legace.