Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Preds Preview: Viktor Arvidsson Jersey Card

This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: 2020 is a different beast and requires adaptability; in my case, it means the joint posts with my "main/personal" blog will not be in the "player here/analysis there" format but rather the entire scope of the analysis will take place here and the player will have some sort of direct connection to what's written. Caveats: at this point, despite the season being set to start in Mid-January, several impact players haven't found a team yet and quite a few teams are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.

Everyone not named Roman Josi or Ryan Ellis was a disappointment for the Nashville Predators (buying from team links may get me paid) in 2019-20, which is why four regular NHLers (Kyle Turris, Craig Smith, Nick Bonino and Austin Watson) were let go in the postseason, replaced by six skaters (Mark Borowiecki, Luke Kunin, Nick Cousins, Brad Richardson, Matt Benning and Tyler Lewington).

What makes their odds look good:
They were Stanley Cup finalists and Presidents' Trophy winners not too long ago, they're integrating youngsters like defenseman Dante Fabbro and goalie Juuse Saros carefully and methodically, and have skill at every position.

Question marks:
Why did they hire John Hynes as head coach? Can either Saros or Pekka Rinne get it together in net and keep the Preds in contention for a playoff spot in a Central Division that now includes the reigning Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning?

Hynes notwithstanding, GM David Poile has chosen as a theme for his centermen players who had asked for trades from their previous teams; even with Turris gone, he still has Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene who fit that desciption, two players who believe themselves to be #1 centers, neither of whom has ever played like one, and yet both are paid like one. That is how you end up with nine wingers who produce like they're on a middle-six and never an elite, 40-goal scorer. It's not like they still have Barry Trotz behind the bench keeping the team's goals-against average under 2 per game.

Sixth in the Central Division.

There is talent there, it's not so bleak, particularly in the same division as the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks, but not enough to compare with the Bolts, and without as effective a system as the Columbus Blue Jackets or Dallas Stars, and with a blue line that has now been surpassed by that of the Carolina Hurricanes.

One player who has to step up and regain his form is Viktor Arvidsson, who has hit the 61-point mark twice in a row, leading the team in 2016-17 and finishing second behind Filip Forsberg's 64 in 2017-18. His career-high 34 goals in 2018-19 actually stands as the Predators' team record, and he often displays a lot of skill with open ice. He also has a tendency to score game-winning goals. Here he is wearing Nashville's white (away) uniform on card #GJ-VA from Upper Deck's 2020-21 Series 1 set and UD Game Jersey sub-set, which I pulled less than two weeks ago:
It features a matching game-worn jersey swatch that is well-integrated in the design of the card, as the tape on a stick.

Internationally, Arvidsson plays for Team Sweden, upgrading his medal collecting at seemingly every turn, going from U-17 and Hlinka Cup (2010) bronze, to U-18 (2011) and World Juniors (2013) silver, to World Championship gold (2018). Playing for Sweden, Olympic gold and a World Cup title are both strong possibilities.

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