Predators' opening roster pretty much as coaches imagined it

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 4:23pm

The Nashville Predators did not stop to think about who was or was not playing well during training camp. They simply focused on who was playing where.

“I think the evaluation process was not there,” coach Barry Trotz said. “It was like: Make your mind up and go like hell. That’s really what you have to do. I don’t think you can be wishy-washy in a five-day camp. It’s make your decision, step forward with it and then as we start playing games it will sort itself out a little bit.”

Camp ended Friday morning and the roster for the start of the 2012-13 season was announced later in the afternoon.

To get to the maximum 23 players, center Chris Mueller was reassigned to Milwaukee and goalie Zoltan Hetenyi was released from his professional tryout agreement.

That left the following players on the roster for Saturday’s season-opener against Columbus:

• Forwards: Martin Erat, David Legwand, Mike Fisher, Nick Spaling, Craig Smith, Richard Clune, Brandon Yip, Brian McGrattan, Matt Halischuk, Patric Hornqvist, Paul Gaustad, Colin Wilson and Sergei Kostitsyn

• Defensemen: Victor Bartley, Ryan Ellis, Shea Weber, Jonathon Blum, Kevin Klein, Scott Hannan, Roman Josi and Hal Gill.
• Goaltenders: Chris Mason and Pekka Rinne.

All but four of the players were on the roster at the end of last season and more than half (12) were Nashville draft picks.

That level of familiarity allowed coaches to focus on line combinations, defense pairings and specialist duties throughout training camp, most of which was decided a long time ago.

“There were one or two guys – one guy on two lines – that’s really the only thing that’s changed in my mind since, probably, September,” Trotz said. “We have a good balance and I think everybody’s roles are well-defined right now.

“I think going into to, that’s the luxury of having a team that’s pretty well intact. As a coach, it makes it a little easier … but also for a player’s psyche. … For the most part, I think everything is in order.”