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Preds hope for boost with Gaustad’s return

Nashville Predators v Florida Panthers

SUNRISE, FL - MARCH 03: Paul Gaustad #28 of the Nashville Predators skates in his first game as a Predator against the Florida Panthers at the BankAtlantic Center on March 3, 2012 in Sunrise, Florida. The Predators defeated the Panthers 3-1. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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The Nashville Predators are hoping that Paul Gaustad will help the team’s defensively and on the penalty kill after missing three games with an upper-body injury, the Tennessean reports.

“He’s a big body,” Predators coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s a very detailed guy and at 6-foot-5, he’s a guy who has some reach and a guy who has some strength.”

If any team appreciates what the large 30-year-old brings to the ice, it’s the Predators. They sent a first-round pick to Buffalo in exchange for Gaustad and a fourth-rounder during the 2012 trade deadline.

The center’s faceoff efficiency counts as one of his strong suits - he’s not a guy who piles up points - but that size definitely stands out to Trotz. He explained how having big players like Gaustad, Hal Gill and Pekka Rinne can improve a PK.

“All of a sudden you don’t see a lot of lanes,” Trotz said.

They’ll need all the help they can get shutting down a powerful Anaheim Ducks lineup on Saturday night, too.