Mike Fisher out four-to-six months with ruptured Achilles tendon – who are Nashville’s top centers now?

Montreal Canadiens v Nashville Predators

If Nashville GM David Poile had his way this summer, Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher would be his top two centers on opening night. Now, he’ll have neither.

Spezza, of course, refused to waive his no-trade clause to come to Nashville, which left Poile perplexed why an NHLer (especially one who wasn’t crazy about the spotlight) wouldn’t want to live in a wonderful city like Nashville. Fisher was already a big part of the team and the city. But Monday, the hockey team lost his services for at least the beginning of the season when it was announced he injured himself during a training session.

Here’s a statement from Poile on the injury:

“Predators forward and alternate captain Mike Fisher sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon during a training session and underwent successful surgery on Thursday, July 3. We expect Mike to make a full recovery in four-to-six months, and look forward to his return to the ice.”

Last year, Fisher scored 20 goals and 49 points for the Predators and averaged 19:45 of ice time, the most among forwards on his team. The 34-year-old is starting to slow down, but he’s still one of the most important pieces on a team that just had to sign Olli Jokinen to fill a roster spot.

Why is Fisher still so important to this team? Because if he misses the first month or two of the season, the Predators’ top two centers will be some combination of Calle Jarnkrok, Olli Jokinen, Matt Cullen and Paul Gaustad, with an outside shot for Austin Watson or Colin Wilson. There’s not a lot there at the moment, even with Fisher, and not much left on the free agent market either.

The Preds also signed Anton Volchenkov to a one-year, $1 million deal Monday, adding a hard-as-nails stay-at home defender who fits right in with the traditional Nashville system. Thing is, the Predators were trying to change that system this off-season, first by trying to acquire Spezza, then by adding James Neal via trade.

Instead of looking for a new offense philosophy maybe, for now, the best way for Nashville to survive is to keep that shutdown mentality alive.

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