It’s been an uneasy start to the season for Kyle Turris and the Nashville Predators. The Predators are struggling despite being anointed as one of the Western Conference favourites. However, Nashville is 12-10-5 and would be out of the Stanley Cup Playoffs if the postseason started today.
The Predators acquired Matt Duchene in the off-season after sending P.K. Subban to the New Jersey Devils. Nashville was flush with centres and some wondered what the future held for Turris. Some thought he’d get slotted on a wing, but he was put in a defensive role.
However, the 30-year-old didn’t seem to fit into head coach Peter Laviolette’s plans. The Predators’ coach made Turris a healthy scratch for seven straight games. Turris returned to the lineup and reminded fans and management what he’s capable of with a goal and an assist in the team’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Wednesday’s performance was a reminder of what the New Westminster, British Columbia native could do when he is playing at his best. That play may force general manager David Poile and Laviolette to decide on Turris’ future sooner rather than later.
However, the big albatross is that he is in the second year of a six-year contract he signed Nov. 5, 2017. There are three options the Predators have now.
What to do with Kyle Turris
Play Kyle Turris
Injuries have hit the team hard so far this season. Viktor Arvidsson is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. Mikael Granlund and Filip Forsberg have also suffered through various ailments so far this season.
However, it took until Wednesday for Turris to crack the lineup. He’s close to matching last year’s total of seven goals as he’s got five going into Saturday’s game. Last season was a struggle as he got seven goals, 16 assists and 23 points in 55 games last season. Turris has five goals and six assists in just 20 games.
The forward can be a standout offensive performer as he was pivotal to Team Canada’s silver medal-winning squad. Turris was the captain and put up 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 10 games. He said to Adam Vingan of The Athletic that he felt rejuvenated after his international stint.
“It just brought me back to, ‘This is the player I am. This is the person I am,'” Turris said. “That’s something that’s stuck with me now and cemented in me.”
He seems to be in a better space mentally as he responded well after the prolonged benching. He is producing at a first-line clip despite fourth-line minutes according to Micah Blake McCurdy of Ineffective Math.
The Predators wingers like Granlund and Craig Smith have struggled and Turris could still give the team points. Nashville shouldn’t care where the points are coming from at this stage.
The veteran plays centre, but the Predators middle seems to be set with Ryan Johansen, Duchene, Nick Bonino and Colton Sissons as the four pivots. Johansen and Duchene are the centres on the top-two lines while Bonino and Sissons anchor the bottom two lines.
Some suggested that Turris plays on the wing, but he would be playing out of position. There would be worry on if Turris would get outmuscled for pucks in the corners if he were moved to a wing. Nashville did call up Yakov Trenin on Friday night and one wonders if he’ll slot into the lineup or if he’s there as an extra body.
Turris did play on the second line with Daniel Carr and Calle Jarnkrok, but one wonders how long that will last. One wonders if Laviolette will end the experiment once Arvidsson returns.
A desirable result of Turris’ great game could that he makes himself more desirable to a potential suitor. Maybe Laviolette and Poile are showcasing Turris so a team will take a shot on him.
The $6 million price tag makes a deal a lot harder to pull off and his contract runs until the end of the 2023-24 season. That long term may also scare teams away from picking him up. It’s a big commitment to a player that has been scuffling the last two seasons.
A change of location could help Turris turn into the player he once was. The relationship between the sides seems to be uneasy. Maybe cutting bait and getting a winger or filling some other need would help ease the pain of the contract not working out.
What it Means
Ideally, the Predators and Turris would like to start winning again so this isn’t an issue. Turris deserves a fair shot at making it work in the Music City. He seemed reenergized after the Word Championships and there was a lot of hope he’d turn things around.
A trade or Turris fighting through his struggles to become a solid contributor would be the ideal solution for both sides. Sitting him again would cause all of these headaches to rear their ugly head once again.
DENVER, CO – APRIL 16: Ryan Ellis #4 and Kyle Turris #7 of the Nashville Predators exchange words with Patrik Nemeth #12 of the Colorado Rockies in Game Three of the Western Conference First Round during the 2018 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Pepsi Center on April 16, 2018 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)