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Kane and Toews only difference between us and ‘Hawks, says Preds asst. GM

May 12, 2014, 1:18 PM EDT

Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews AP

For nearly all of their 15-year existence, the Nashville Predators have lacked a star forward. While brief stints from Peter Forsberg and Paul Kariya provided glimpses into what it might look like to employ one, both were closer to the ends of their careers while in Nashville… and neither stayed for very long.

In light of that, it’s interesting to learn some within Preds organization believe a star forward — actually, two star forwards — is the only thing keeping them from competing with the NHL’s elite.

“What is the difference between the Nashville Predators and the Chicago Blackhawks?” assistant GM Paul Fenton asked, per The Tennessean. “To me it’s two players: it’s the first overall pick in Patrick Kane and the third overall pick in Jonathan Toews.”

Fenton is referring to Chicago’s consecutive drafts — Toews in 2006, Kane in 2007 — that reversed the club’s fortunes. Since then, Chicago has won a pair of Stanley Cups and the dynamic duo has emerged as one of the NHL’s best, capturing more championships than Pittsburgh (Sidney CrosbyEvgeni Malkin), Anaheim (Ryan GetzlafCorey Perry) and Detroit (Henrik ZetterbergPavel Datsyuk*).

Fenton did acknowledge that, in certain instances, teams had to be pretty bad to become very good. Chicago suffered through some lean years before scoring high enough picks — in the right drafts, no less — and Pittsburgh did much of the same. Nashville’s biggest “problem” is that it hasn’t been bad enough to draft high; the club has just two top-five selections in franchise history and the most recent one, No. 4 overall in 2013, was used to select defenseman Seth Jones.

“If you match up our lineups [with Chicago] from [Kane and Toews] on out, it’s pretty even,” Fenton said. “Sometimes you have to be really bad to get them.”

This year, the Preds once again weren’t bad enough to secure a high pick — they’ll go 11th overall at the ’14 NHL Entry Draft. But given that GM David Poile recently said the club needs to add a “big-time forward,” don’t be surprised if the Preds try to target one in Philly — either with their pick, or via trade.

* Datsyuk has two Stanley Cups, but won his first prior to Zetterberg’s arrival.

  1. enzod91 - May 12, 2014 at 1:28 PM

    ya bc the predators have star forwards like Sharp (Canadian olympian) , Hossa(future HOF) and Saad (calder finalist) behind….uh…Mike Fisher…preds can wish the only difference between the clubs was Toews and Kane

    • travishenryskid - May 12, 2014 at 2:18 PM

      Saad and Sharp would look a lot different when they have to play higher up in the line-up and teams are game planning to stop them specifically.

      • spoon9z - May 12, 2014 at 4:00 PM

        Sharp is a fantastic player and can play pretty much any position as a forward on any line. I’d would LOVE to see him in an Av jersey, but at least can respect great talent when it’s in front of us. If they needed him to play up on the top line and score more, Sharp certainly could do so on this and any team. He’s just an unselfish amazing two-way guy who does what his team needs allowing less dimensional O centric guys like Kane to reap the rewards. Yes Kane’s O upside is much higher, and it’s why Sharp has no problem playing his role depsite plenty skill himself. Perfect fit guy on ANY team.

      • enzod91 - May 12, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        they are top line players on this team so your point is erroneous

  2. pepper2011 - May 12, 2014 at 1:30 PM

    I might add Hossa, Sharp, Saad and even Bickell (playoff Bickell, that is) to that list considering they would be your best offensive player immediately upon arrival.

    But yeah, Weber and Jones (projected) seem to be on par with Keith and Seabrook. Rinne is probably better than Crawford too.

    • pepper2011 - May 12, 2014 at 1:38 PM

      So yeah, replace 4 or 5 of your top six forwards with Elite talent, and develop your young defensemen into an actual number 1/2, and bang you are on par with the Hawks.

      Ya hear that FLA – all you need is a Sid and Geno and you can be like PIttsburgh… A team that scores a lot with a sieve for a goalie.

  3. spezzdispenser - May 12, 2014 at 1:33 PM

    even if he was right, Kane and Toews is a pretty massive difference

    • pudgalvin - May 12, 2014 at 2:24 PM

      I think any team that didn’t make the playoffs could say, “Well, if we had one of the best three players in the game today as our captain and one of the three most gifted offensive players in the league playing on the second line, we’d pretty good.” They probably wouldn’t be wrong, but it’s also pretty hard to get those guys.

  4. titansbro - May 12, 2014 at 2:20 PM

    yeah, i like the preds but i think they’re a little further off from chicago that just those 2 guys. and as stated before, that’s a HUGE difference.

  5. comeonnowguys - May 12, 2014 at 2:26 PM

    I’ll preface this by saying I like Crow a lot, and that he will forever be underrated, but there is at least one other difference–Preds have a better goalie.

    • hammerhead5573 - May 12, 2014 at 3:07 PM

      One of the few times I will disagree with you. And honestly maybe I’m just misunderstanding. I always admired the Preds because they always give the Hawks fits for as long as I can remember but I’ll always think of Renne as the guy who often gave up a soft goal here and there which could have won the game or at least Kept them in a game. One of Kane’s finest moments came against him in 2010 ( I believe). Did luck play into it???? Sure, but Renna was out of position too. Stopping that goal would have propelled the Preds that year, but he didn’t. Crawford stunk it up against the Yotes but since then has been fairly solid. The best???? No….Solid????? Yes. If there is one thing about Q that drives me nuts though is his handling of goalies.

      • wjarvis - May 12, 2014 at 3:47 PM

        Crow gives up more soft goals than Rinne, but the Preds score far less than the Hawks, so the soft goals often play more of a role in determining the outcome of the game when Rinne lets one in. Agree that Crow is a solid goalie and one that I have confidence in, but Rinne can steal a game more often that Crow will.

      • hammerhead5573 - May 12, 2014 at 3:54 PM

        Jarvis, I’ll agree to disagree. You bring up good points though. In the playoffs this year against St Louis, Crawford gave up very soft goals. Not that the Blues didn’t earn them but they were killer soft goals. Pull my hair out soft goals.

  6. goirishgo - May 12, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    And the only difference between Warren Buffet and me is money.

    • bhwksfn - May 12, 2014 at 3:34 PM

      Goirish….that’s the best comment I’ve read all day!!!! That’s why Fenton is an asst GM!

    • spoon9z - May 12, 2014 at 4:01 PM

      hopefully for you it’s age too

      ; )

  7. dboldave - May 12, 2014 at 3:25 PM

    Yup and Calgary is just a Crosby and Malkin away from being Pittsburgh! Just get two players like that and BOOM! Cup competitive! Simple!

  8. wjarvis - May 12, 2014 at 4:21 PM

    Another big difference between the Preds and other successful teams is their spending habits. While the Hawks, Bruins, Pens, Kings etc routinely spend almost all of their money, the Pres do not. It’s hard to keep your best players or attract the top free agents if you won’t spend the money to give your team the best chance to win.

  9. djshnooks - May 12, 2014 at 5:38 PM

    That’s why Buffalo is the next dynasty!

    Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett…and Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel!

    Im so excited for the future…just have to find a way to get through the next 2-3 years

  10. prov1x - May 12, 2014 at 5:47 PM

    I’m a Preds fan and season ticket holder and Fenton’s comments are quite possibly the most ridiculous ever. Never mind Hossa, Sharp, Bickell, Saad, Keith and Seabrook. Yeah, Fish, Colin Wilson, Nick Spaling, Hornqvist, Gaustad….that’s an even trade. Weber, Peks and Josi are the only guys that could make Chicago’s roster right now. What a moron.

  11. erefakes - May 12, 2014 at 6:40 PM

    Mr Fenton is certainly an optimist. All I know is that I don’t see any Preds names on the Cup. When I do, maybe I’ll take him seriously. I see he is fooling his fans. Have no idea how hard it is to build a champ.

  12. gbgrieves - May 12, 2014 at 7:27 PM

    How did the Preds do against Chicago this year?

  13. hardkor07mn - May 12, 2014 at 9:49 PM

    And if grandma had balls, she would be grandpa. There is no comparison

  14. hockeydon10 - May 13, 2014 at 10:33 AM

    Chicago, Pitt and Anaheim all deserve props for their successful seasons for a few years now. Sucking right before a great draft year has been key to a lot of good teams’ success. That’s not derogatory, it’s just a simple fact of the NHL.

    Kane (1st overall)
    Toews (3rd overall)

    Crosby (1st overall)
    Malkin (2nd overall)

    You’d expect them to do great things.

    Getzlaf (19th overall)
    Perry (28th overall)

    Still first round, so I guess comparing them to the actual top picks makes sense. It’s a stretch, but at least it’s something.

    Yakupov (1st overall)
    Nugent-Hopkins (1st overall)
    Hall (1st overall)
    Paajarvi-Svensson (10th overall)
    Gagner (6th overall)

    Oy vey!

    Datsyuk (171st overall)
    Zetterberg (210th overall)

    Two of these things is not like the other three.

    Chicago, Pitt have the combination of great draft position, good coaching and good management. Anaheim used high draft picks (last half of the round) for their two and still does great with those guys. Edmonton has good draft position to be certain, but something else fell flat. Detroit has good coaching and management while not having chosen their dynamic duo with high draft picks.

    To be certain, Chicago and Pitt are not to be criticized for getting success using top picks. The fact, though, is that it’s a lot more than just the draft picks that make a top team. I guess that means the Preds feel like everything else is equal between them and other top teams (coaching, development, management, team culture) and it’s simply a lack of drafting high in the right years.

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. P. Kessel (1707)
  2. P. Kane (1338)
  3. M. Richards (1212)
  4. P. Datsyuk (1201)
  5. N. Backstrom (1060)