After spending the last 15 years as the Head Coach of the Nashville Predators, Barry Trotz was let go this offseason. He was the only Head Coach in Nashville Predators history and for good reason. Trotz’s teams always play hard with structure and discipline. The Predators made the playoffs six out of nine seasons since the lockout. Trotz also has an AHL championship with the Portland Pirates on his resume. He is an upper level coach in the NHL and hiring him was the best move the Caps made this offseason.
People forget how good his Predators teams were right after the 2005 lockout. The 2005-2006 Predators finished 6th in the NHL with 106 points and the 2006-2007 Predators finished 3rd with 110 points. They just were never able to make it far in the playoffs matching up against some tough San Jose Sharks teams in the first round both years. Unfortunately for the Predators, because of the team’s internal budget, they couldn’t keep their team together so they fell off some after those great seasons. They eventually rebounded with the emergence of Ryan Suter and Shea Weber, reaching the second round in the 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 seasons. Once Suter left, the team again fell off and the organization decided to go in another direction this summer.
Trotz is often thought of as only a defensive coach, but that is not necessarily true. The Predators finished 4th in goals for the 2006-2007 season. Trotz has never had the offensive talent to work with that will have here in the nation’s capital. The best offensive players he had was a past his prime Paul Kariya and 17 games of Peter Forsberg. Ovechkin and Backstrom gives Trotz two truly dynamic offensive players that Nashville has never seemed to be able to find.
Trotz also has a great track of developing defenseman. Kimmo Timonen, Marek Zidlicky, Dan Hamhuis, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber, Roman Josi, and Seth Jones are just some of the many who thrived under Trotz. I predict that Alzner will take a huge step forward this season taking his game to another level. Carlson should also be able to reach the 40 point plateau for the first time in his career. The Caps as a team should be a good defensively, possibly going from the bottom ten in goals against to the top ten next year.
Trotz gets production throughout the lineup and the Capitals have a deep team up front to compliment his system. With the improvements on the backend, the Capitals should be a playoff team next season.