SUN Hockey Pool

Witt fits with youngsters

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 11:47 AM ET

NASHVILLE -- Young and talented.

That's the best way to describe the bulk of the Nashville Predators defence corps.

Dan Hamhuis (23 years old), Ryan Suter (21), Shea Weber (20) and second-year NHLer Marek Zidlicky (29) complement veteran Kimmo Timonen (31) and, when healthy, the hard-hitting Danny Markov (29).

Something was missing, especially with Markov struggling to stay healthy at times this season.

Enter 31-year-old deadline day pickup Brendan Witt, traded for the first time in his pro career after spending nearly nine seasons with the Washington Capitals.

"That's why we brought in Brendan," said Preds centre Mike Sillinger, another veteran acquired in-season for his experience. "A guy who'll add some leadership and some toughness back there."

The group of quick, mobile blueliners was doing fine before Witt's addition but Predators coach Barry Trotz says having a fiery role model will help the others mature.

"I think he's going to be a tremendous asset for us," said Trotz. "He plays with an edge and I think that the other guys see that, see how effective that is. It's positive reinforcement for a young guy."

Witt knows what he can provide and is looking forward to attacking the post-season with his new teammates.

"I just try to bring some of my veteran experience that has been passed on to me playing with guys like Calle Johansson, Sylvain Cote and Mark Tinordi," said Witt. "If I can add that to the locker-room, we're looking to go for a long push here in the playoffs."

Joining just his second NHL team a little more than a week ago, Witt admits he was a little timid -- a trait he never exhibits on the ice.

"When I first arrived here I was so nervous. First time I've ever been traded," said Witt, adding he's been touched by the city's southern hospitality.

"Flying coast to coast and having to play an afternoon game, there's so much emotion going on.

"Now that I'm here -- been here for a week now and sort of established myself, getting to know the guys and stuff -- I like our corps. They may be young but they move the puck well, they play defence well.

"I'm really impressed with the group."


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