47-29-6 (7th in West); lost in first round to Blackhawks
LW Sergei Kostitsyn, C Matthew Lombardi, D Ryan Parent
C Jason Arnott, G Dan Ellis, D Dan Hamhuis
WHEN COACH Barry Trotz summoned Shea Weber to Nashville in early July, the 25-year-old defenseman wasn't sure what to expect. "I thought maybe I was in trouble or that I was being traded," he recalls. Far from it.
The 6'4", 234-pound blue line force learned he would be fitted for a C and his defensive partner, slick and under-the-radar talent Ryan Suter, would soon wear an A. As defensive pairings go, Weber and Suter rank among the league's best, even if they are little known outside (or even within) their own market. They are the backbone of a team that has become a postseason regular despite its skeletal payroll (a huge testament to the work and talent of Trotz and G.M. David Poile). Though their playoff success has been limited—Nashville has yet to win a playoff series in five trips—their consistency and steadiness give them a chance. "We don't have the most skilled team in the league every year," says Weber. "But we find a way to play to our system and find ways to win."
The continued development of young talent such as 23-year-old right wing Patric Hornqvist, who shoveled in 30 goals last season, should alleviate the loss of Jason Arnott and once again push the Predators into playoff contention.