Predator fans have gotten used to Shea Weber and Ryan Suter as the number one defensive pairing in Nashville. Last year's second paring was generally the departed Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Klein while Francis Bouillon and Cody Franson and others made up the final pair.
Weber has one of the heaviest cannons in the game and continues to improve game by game as a defensive master. Last season, we saw Franson appear on the scene with a surprising shot from the blue line that will improve with experience. Despite his 5'10" stature, Ryan Ellis has had tremendous success in juniors, averaging in excess of a point per game in his career.
In Sunday's scrimmage Ryan Suter played with several other defensemen and really seemed to stand out as a force by not being paired with Weber.
After the scrimmage I asked Barry Trotz about the potential for splitting the Weber-Suter juggernaut and he indicated that it might be something that they would consider against teams with deep offensive talent.
While I'm daydreaming, I would like to do consider something that goes against the defense first, "Predator way" philosophy. What if, at some point in the next year or so, you paired Shea Weber with Kevin Klein, Ryan Suter with Codey Franson, and Frankie Bouillion with Ryan Ellis.
These pairs would give you a heavy dose of offense on all pairings while having a strong defensive partner to cover one D-man joins the offensive rush or for big rebounds that could occur allowing a transition in the other direction by the opponent.
Will we see something like this actually play out on the ice? It is hard to say. Other D-men like Ryan Parent, Jon Blum, Alexander Sulzer, and Aaron Johnson may not like the have a great bit to say about the idea with their play. Additionally, the reality is that Ryan Ellis is probably headed back to Windsor for a shot at his third Memorial Cup in three years.
However, when the Predators take on Carolina on Thursday night, it would be a real treat for fans to see something like what I suggested. Who knows, even Barry Trotz might like the result.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass