The Nashville Predators are at an important crossroads in their season.

At just over the halfway mark, the Preds are six points out of a playoff spot. Not an impossible amount of points to make up, but a sense of urgency is needed to do so. Of note, the Preds are also far too successful to be in the running for a top lottery pick in the draft.

So if Nashville is going to make a run for a playoff spot, they need to start now.

One thing that would help them gather more wins than losses? Giving more ice time to forwards that are playing well. This may seem obvious, but it seems to be something the Preds struggle to do under John Hynes.

With that in mind, here are three forwards that deserve more ice time than they’ve been getting.

Quick note, for this analysis, I looked at three factors from Natural Stat Trick:

  • on-ice expected goal share (are they generating more expected goals than they are allowing?)
  • on-ice shot attempt share (are they generating more shot attempts than they are allowing?)
  • average even strength ice time (is it too low considering how well they are playing?)

Yakov Trenin

Yakov Trenin has been playing great hockey recently. While his production is modest (he’s managed only 13 points in 39 games this season), his impact on the ice is clear when you watch the games. He brings a combination of speed and size that is a tough matchup, especially for the bottom six forwards he’s normally facing on the ice.

After a slow start to the season, where he collected only six points in his first 24 games, he has seven points in his last 15 games. He had a shorthanded goal in a key moment against the Dallas Stars in late December and recently was quite a handful against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Here’s where Trenin ranks on the team among the three factors I considered:

  • 6th in expected goals share (xGF%)
  • 9th in shot attempt share (xCF%)
  • 14th in time on ice (TOI/GP)

At only 11:59 even strength minutes per game, Trenin definitely deserves more ice time given his production and underlying metrics.

Tommy Novak

It’s well documented that the Nashville Predators have been much improved offensively since calling up Tommy Novak in December.

He has the vision, puck skills, and pace of play to prove he belongs with the NHL club.

Novak has eight points in 15 games for the Preds this season. He initially debuted on the same line with Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund, but has since moved down the lineup.

Looking at his metrics, you have to wonder why.

  • 5th in expected goals share (xGF%)
  • 4th in shot attempt share (xCF%)
  • 21st in time on ice (TOI/GP)

Giving one of your five best forwards only 9:13 even strength ice time on average is not a wise move. Novak has been playing recently on the 4th line with Yakov Trenin. Both players deserve better.

Cody Glass

Cody Glass has been one of the best Nashville Predators stories this season. From his emotional response to making the team out of training camp to his inexplicable benching in November to his line matching efforts against Connor McDavid and recent success on the top line, Glass has been a fascinating player to watch.

In 34 games this season, Glass has 14 points… but six of those have come in the last 11 games. He finally seems to have garnered the respect of the coaching staff, who recently bumped him to the “1C” position next to Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene.

And when you see his underlying metrics, you can see why:

  • 2nd in expected goals share (xGF%)
  • 1st in shot attempt share (xCF%)
  • 17th in time on ice (TOI/GP)

Including Glass on this list might be a tad unfair to the coaching staff, because they already seem to be giving him more ice time. Over the last 17 games, Glass has seen his even strength ice time rise from 9:16 to 12:26… over three more minutes per game.

But still, you have to wonder where the Nashville Predators would be if they’d believed in Cody Glass the whole season. It’s not a stretch to say, they’d probably be better than six points out of a playoff spot.

— Featured image via Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports —