It is no secret that the Nashville Predators lack an elite centerman. It has been the team’s weakest link for a number of years, as they simply haven’t been able to draft or bring in a franchise center that can propel them into the Stanley Cup conversation.
Taking a look at the team’s top two centers, Mike Ribeiro and Mike Fisher, they are both 35 years and are not considered elite at their position, especially considering the talent they face on a near nightly basis around the Central Division (i.e. Jonathan Toews, Tyler Seguin and company).
With Ribeiro you know what you are going to get. He is all offense and is going to look to dish the puck to his two talented wingers in James Neal and Filip Forsberg and let them find the back of the net. Ribeiro is coming off of a 15-goal, 47-assist 2014-15 and that 3:1 ratio of assists to goals is a number he has posted numerous times throughout his career.
Fisher on the other hand plays an entirely different role. He is a two-way forward that chips in all areas of the game. Head coach Peter Laviolette can call his name to do just about anything.
Fisher missed the first 21 games in 2014-15 after undergoing Achilles surgery in the offseason. He jumped right into action and impressed for the remainder of the season, scoring 19 goals and adding 20 assists in 59 games. This marked his fourth consecutive 10+ goal campaign.
He led Nashville in power play goals with seven and was a bright spot on the league’s 25th-worst power play team. This is an area the team will address headed into a new season and will rely heavily on Fisher to be the No. 2 center both in even strength situations and on the PP.
#Preds forward Mike Fisher presents Linda Griffin of the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office with her season t… https://t.co/EUIz6HCmCc
— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) September 8, 2015
Another aspect to take notice of was the success Fisher’s two wingers had in 2014-15. Colin Wilson put up career numbers with 42 points, while Craig Smith recorded 44 points. The trio had 125 points combined a year ago.
Fisher has not shown a sign of regressing over the past few seasons. He had 49 points in 2013-14 and last year’s shortened season he performed better than most imagined. There is still that slight inkling in the back of some minds saying something has got to give.
Fisher is not an elite player and he isn’t going to make the jump to that status as a 35-year-old, but slight regression in the goal scoring department could hinder the Predators’ success this season.