A seven-time All-Star, Kariya joins Nashville after scoring a
career-low 11 goals with Colorado in 2003-2004. He signed a
two-year, $9 million contract and is the first big-name player
the Predators have acquired.
After missing the playoffs in their first five seasons, the
Predators were 38-29-11-4 for 91 points and a third-place finish
in the Central Division before losing to Detroit in the first
round of the playoffs.
Goaltender Thomas Vokoun won 34 games in 2003-2004 and led the
Czech Republic to victory in the World Championships earlier
this year. He is considered one of the rising young goalies in
the league and capable of taking Nashville to greater heights.
San Jose made very few changes to its roster after winning the
Pacific Division crown with a 43-21-12-6 mark and 104 points
before losing to Calgary in the Western Conference final in
Coach Ron Wilson turned the Sharks around by focusing on speed
and puck possession. The results were impressive as they won 24
more games than the previous season and jumped from last to
first in the division.
Wilson is expecting bigger things from center and captain
Patrick Marleau, who led the team with 28 goals - matching his
career high - and 57 points in 2003-2004. He also scored eight
times in the postseason.
The goaltending tandem of former Calder Trophy winner Evgeni
Nabakov and Vesa Toskala is one of the best in the league.
Nabakov has won at least 30 games with a goals-against average
of 2.29 or better in three of the past four seasons.
The Sharks won all seven of their preseason contests.