- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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While the defense evolves, expect Detroit's forwards to again be excellent. With awe-inspiring center Pavel Datsyuk back to full health—he was limited to 56 games last season due to a broken hand—the Wings' offense, which was second best in the league, should get even better.
COACH Barry Trotz (13th season)
LAST SEASON 44-27-11 (5th in West); lost in second round to Canucks
KEY ADDITIONS RW Niclas Bergfors, D Jack Hillen
KEY LOSSES D Cody Franson, LW Steve Sullivan, RW Joel Ward
Nobody on the Predators has expressed any surprise about the emergence of goalie Pekka Rinne as an NHL star. "People are only beginning to recognize what we've known for a couple of years," coach Barry Trotz says.
In his third year as Nashville's No. 1 netminder, the athletic 6'5" Rinne (below) was a Vezina finalist, with a .930 save percentage (the second highest in the NHL) and 2.12 GAA (the third lowest). He was the linchpin of one of the league's stoutest defenses, fronted by the shutdown pairing of Shea Weber and Ryan Suter.
Nashville may start the season with as many as three rookie defensemen, but the blue line is rarely a problem for Trotz's teams. The Predators' scoring depth, however, will be an issue now that the club has parted ways with four 20-point scorers during the off-season. It will be up to callow forwards such as 25-year-old Cal O'Reilly (six goals in 38 games in 2010--11) and 21-year-old Colin Wilson (16 goals in 82 games) to fill the void.