By Jim Diamond
Tuesday night marks the first of six preseason games for the Nashville Predators. Six is the minimum number of games a team is allowed to play, and the Predators are in the somewhat unique situation of playing two games on the same day when they face the Florida Panthers at Bridgestone Arena this Saturday in hockey’s version of a day/night doubleheader.
“We’re going to use a lot of players to get through the exhibition games and continue to evaluate here,” Predators head coach Peter Laviolette said Sunday. “A lot of young players are going to get opportunities in the first couple of games. We’ve got not the whole organization, but practically the whole organization playing on the 27th. We’ll be evaluating for quite a while here.”
Many veteran players like to play in as many preseason games as they can since there is a difference between being in shape and being in game shape. Laviolette said that he has had some conversations with his players on this subject.
“They are going to get in three or four of those games,” he said. “There may be the odd player that gets all five games. As camp moves on and we continue to look at what we need to look at from a personnel standpoint, that might ultimately determine an extra game or an extra look.”
It will be a balancing act for Laviolette and the management staff of the Predators as they prepare the rosters for the preseason games. To a large degree, they are familiar with what a lot of the veterans can do, but they will want to see some of the younger players in game situations as well. Additionally, as they experiment with line combinations and defensive pairings, seeing them in games gives them a much better idea of how they will function together as opposed to just seeing them in practice.
As the team makes its way to Tampa to face the Lightning Tuesday night, here is a primer on the roster regulations that are in place for teams during the preseason.
Article 15.4 of the NHL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NHL Players’ Association dictates the minimum number of veterans who will dress for each preseason game.
(c) A Club shall be permitted to dress a minimum of eight (8) veterans for any Exhibition Game. For purposes of this Section 15.4(c), a veteran shall constitute either:
(1) a forward or defenseman who played in thirty (30) NHL Games during the previous season,
(2) a goaltender who either dressed in fifty (50) or more NHL Games or played in thirty (30) or more NHL Games in the previous season,
(3) a first round draft choice from the most recent year’s Entry Draft, or
(4) any Player who has played one-hundred (100) or more career NHL Games.
There are 55 players currently on the training camp roster. Here is the breakdown of which players fit into the definition of veteran for the purposes of the preseason games. Some fit into multiple categories, but they are listed just once.
Category 1 – A forward or defenseman who played in 30 NHL Games during the previous season
Mike Fisher – Injured
Ryan Ellis – Not in camp due to lack of a contract
Category 2 – A goaltender who either dressed in 50 or more NHL Games or played in 30 or more NHL Games in the previous season
Category 3 – A first round draft choice from the most recent year’s Entry Draft
Category 4 – Any Player who has played 100 or more career NHL Games