With a new season underway, it is hard to tell how well Nashville will do this season. Instead of giving bold predictions that will not hold up when it is all said and done, here are the realistic best and worst case scenarios for the Nashville Predators this year.
Best Case Scenario: Third in Central Division; Lose in Conference Semifinals
Nashville still has a solid defense. The Shea Weber/Roman Josi pairing is beginning to gel. Seth Jones is impressing in camp. And last time I checked, Pekka Rinne still plays for the Nashville Predators. It’s going to be difficult for teams to score on this team, and that should give the Predators a shot in every game they play this year. If Rinne and the defense stand tall, it will take a great deal of pressure off the offense.
The offense does have a great deal of depth and role players, so there won’t be a “weak” line on the ice. If injuries arise this year, the Milwaukee system will have solid guys to fill in for a time. The offense isn’t high powered, but there should be some consistency in the lines.
The thing with Nashville is that the Predators are not a team that you can judge how they will do or how they will play on paper. Looking at the roster, Nashville shouldn’t be even in the discussion of making the playoffs. However, Barry Trotz has been able to squeeze everything he can out of each individual player. The Predators seem to be in the playoff discussion every year. Things shouldn’t change this year either.
Will this team compete for a division title? Probably not. Chicago and St. Louis are the heavy favorites in the Central, but the third spot is a realistic possibility for Nashville this season.
Worst Case Scenario: Fifth in the Central Division; Miss Playoffs
Nashville added depth to the team during the off-season, but the top-6 forward fans were hoping to get didn’t come to Nashville. The signings added grit to the lineup, but from an offensive standpoint, the shopping spree seemed underwhelming.
The Viktor Stalberg signing is the only hope of a top-line talent, and management hopes that with top line minutes, he can produce like a true top-line player. But that is all speculation and if he doesn’t have a 30-goal season, the Predators’ offense will have to be “by committee” in order to compete in the Central Division
General Manger David Poile is banking on some action at the trade deadline to get another piece in the offense, but if Nashville doesn’t pick up that missing piece, that spells bad news for Smashville fans when the playoffs arrive. This team has felt like it has been missing a piece or two for a while. Can Poile work his magic again at the deadline?
It’s hard to believe in Nashville, but this group is a better team than Winnipeg Jets and Colorado Avalanche. In last year’s shortened season, Nashville’s injuries, power play and lack of offensive firepower kept them from the playoffs. The Predators did a better job to improve their team in the off-season than Colorado or Winnipeg. If they do miss the big dance, they will not finish last in the division.