Steve Sullivan is still recuperating from offseason back surgery up in Vancouver, and in this morning's Tennessean John Glennon reports that "he might not be at 100 percent when training camp begins Sept. 13", although the team is confident that he'll be ready at some point soon.
The Predators need to give Sullivan all the time he needs to fully recover, regardless of time missed in hockey training camp, or even some games in the early weeks of the regular season. His back injury this year and groin trouble in 2006 left the Preds without one of their most potent offensive weapons during the last two playoffs, both of which resulted in disappointing first-round losses to the San Jose Sharks. Given the issues around this team in terms of attendance and financial performance, making a deeper postseason run is critical to the long-term success of the team.
At this stage of his career, it's not imperative for him to go through training camp, anyway. Surely there will be some on-ice adjustments due to roster turnover, but he's an experienced veteran who has played 150 games under Barry Trotz in Nashville, so he knows how this team works. He's currently skating up in Vancouver under the watchful eye of his medical team, so conditioning shouldn't be an issue.
And frankly, it might do some good for more of the offensive burden to be placed on the shoulders of J.P. Dumont, Martin Erat, and Alexander Radulov in the early going, to see which of these players is ready to assume a more dominant role. If the Predators are going to continue their incremental year-on-year progress, it will be because one of those three breaks out into a major goal-scoring force.
So don't rush it, Sully - when you come back to the team, they'll need you to be ready for the long grind ahead.