NASHVILLE – For a team that is starting to heat up but could still use more offensive punch, the Nashville Predators got a nice player in Kyle Turris. The former Ottawa Senators center had his first practice in a Nashville jersey on Thursday, playing on a line with Kevin Fiala and Craig Smith.
“I’m really excited,” Turris said. “This team is so good and had so much success last year. They’re set up to be successful for years to come and I’m excited to be a part of that.”
And the feeling is mutual. While the Predators are currently in a playoff spot, scoring hasn’t been a huge boon just yet. Top-line center Ryan Johansen hasn’t scored a goal, nor has Fiala. Only two players – Filip Forsberg and P.K. Subban – have hit double-digits in points. Having Turris on board could change that luck.
“He’s going to help whoever he plays with,” said coach Peter Laviolette. “He’s certainly going to help on the power play. He can score goals and make plays, he does both well.”
The Predators have a few days off before hosting Pittsburgh on Saturday, which was great news for Turris. Getting traded mid-season means getting your affairs in order quickly – and having the chance to practice with his new team allowed the center to set the foundations for some chemistry, not to mention meet the guys.
Coming from an Ottawa system that is a little cautious offensively (but effective!), Turris is intrigued by the new systems he will learn in Nashville.
“Yeah,” he said. “I’m definitely trying to create for myself and my linemates and take advantage of those opportunities.”
Perhaps most importantly is how Turris fits into the Nashville puzzle. While Johansen is a big, playmaking pivot, he hasn’t produced elite numbers offensively. And Nick Bonino is a very good third-line center, but the Preds’ depth chart necessitated him as their No. 2 before the Turris trade. Now, Turris can be that 1B to Johansen’s 1A, causing matchup problems for opponents. Turris is also a titan in the faceoff circle, winning 61 percent of his draws this year. With Johansen, Colton Sissons and Calle Jarnkrok also excelling at that discipline, expect Nashville to start a lot of plays with possession. Amazing to think that the Preds were craving pivots at the outset of the season, but having depth at that position can’t be underestimated.
“It is valuable,” Laviolette said. “We hadn’t had that before Kyle, with Bonino being out and Freddy (Gaudreau) just getting here (from the minors). At the beginning of the year, in exhibition and early on, it seemed like we were losing centers during games. It’s easier to put a center on the wing and it’s more difficult putting a winger at center. To have extra centers, I’ve always found that to be a benefit.”
As for the bigger picture, Turris’ new teammates are very excited about what the optics of the big trade mean for the club and the spirit that GM David Poile wants to foster right now.
“It shows the commitment to win,” Subban said. “David, there’s no question he’s made that commitment. I don’t think there’s a GM in the league who’s been able to execute the way he has. He’s definitely giving us the best opportunity to win a Stanley Cup and it’s up to us now. Kyle’s going to be a big part of this team. We have a lot of great pieces, but we knew we had to add some depth and experience and he brings that.”
Not only that, but Turris is well versed in the cultural beacons of his new city.
“I really enjoy country music,” he said. “And I’m a big Kings of Leon fan.”
Sounds like a match.