Nashville Predators Best Case/Worst Case Scenarios


The NHL preseason is upon us, and that means the regular season is nigh. The Nashville Predators have some pretty big expectations this coming season, a vast departure from this time last year when we were all just hoping they would sneak into the playoffs. This year, anything less than a Western Conference Finals appearance has to be considered a disappointment. Of course, from time to time teams regress like the Colorado Avalanche did last season. While we all hope that won’t happen with the Predators, it is possible. With that in mind, today we’ll take a look at both extreme possibilities.



The forward group was probably the most surprising group last season. The additions of Filip Forsberg and Mike Ribeiro gave Nashville legitimate top-line scorers, and the emergence of Colin Wilson and Craig Smith as constant threats on the second line forced teams to seriously alter their game plans to account for them.

Forsberg and Ribeiro will need to reproduce their respective seasons from last year, and James Neal has to find that scoring touch again and snipe his way to around 30 goals. The Preds need Wilson and Smith to continue their dominance with Mike Fisher on the second line. Hopefully, the addition of Cody Hodgson and Viktor Arvidsson pays dividends and the third line accounts for around 50 goals.

All other things being equal from last year, that third line has the potential to really ignite this Predators team. Last season the third line rarely made an impact. That has to be different this season in order to keep the pressure off of the top-six and keep other teams honest in their personnel deployments.

If Nashville is in a leading position at the trade deadline, David Poile is going to need to make a deal for a true 1C. While Ribeiro and Fisher are great in their own right, neither is the game-breaker the Predators need to become the top threat in the NHL. They are able to mask their lack of a top line center with the outstanding play of their defense, but that only holds up for so long. For the Predators to have a real chance of hoisting Lord Stanley’s Cup, they’re going to have to make a deal sometime this year.


The Nashville Predators have the best defense in the NHL. I have no problem saying that because I honestly believe it. Think about how many teams would kill to have a player like Seth Jones on their team. Now think of how many have the talent to shelter him with third pairing minutes. Yeah, it’s not many. Most teams would have him up on the second pairing, and a few would have him on the top pairing.

For the Predators to make a run this season, Shea Weber will have to do that thing where he’s Shea Weber. Some people say he had a down year last year, but a 45 point season isn’t exactly shlubbin’ it for an NHL defenseman. So long as he hovers around the 50 point mark, the Predators will be just fine.

Speaking of high-scoring defensemen, Roman Josi will have to have another year flirting with 50 points and Ryan Ellis will also need to continue his upward trajectory in order for the Predators to have a special season.

For the Predators to make a run, Weber and Josi can’t play the number of minutes they played last season, and it’s up to guys like Jones and newcomer Barret Jackman to take some of those tough minutes away from them. If they can do that, then Weber and Josi run less of a risk of injury and should be fresher come the spring.


Anyone who knows the Nashville Predators knows that the team rises and falls on the back of Pekka Rinne. If Pekka is playing great, the team wins, when he struggles, so do the Preds. However, Rinne is past 30 and doesn’t need to be playing 72 games a season if he expects to be ready for the postseason.

Rinne probably won’t need to do as much as he did last year though no one is going to complain if he does. So long as he is healthy, the Predators should have nothing to worry about.

Someone is going to have to step up and take some games from Rinne, whether that be Carter Hutton or Marek Mazanec. I actually wouldn’t be surprised if Mazanec found a way to supplant Hutton for the #2 job by the end of the season.

Either way, someone is going to have to take about 20 starts this season to ensure that Rinne is properly rested for the stretch run and the playoffs. So long as whoever that is can play respectably while Rinne rests, The Preds will be just fine.

The best case scenario for the Predators this season is to win the Western Conference and maybe even the President’s Trophy. This team has the ability to be that good. However, there are some things that could derail the fun train…


Forsberg experiences a sophomore slump, putting up just 15 goals and 20 assists and finding himself a healthy scratch from time to time. Ribeiro’s and Fisher’s ages catch up and they can’t re-create last season. Colin Wilson goes back to being the old Colin Wilson, and that’s not good.

Hodgson doesn’t pan out and we’re left with a make-shift third line that contributes as much as they did last year. Arvidsson gets sent down early in the year and that third line is just a rotating group of faces.

Defensively, Weber continues his decline and starts to show his age while Josi can’t seem to get on the scoring track he was on last season. Seth Jones doesn’t make that big jump we’ve all been waiting for and just kind of stays level.

Ellis and Ekholm stay injured most of the time, forcing the team to rely upon Viktor Barley and Anthony Bitetto more often than they should. Bitetto becomes a liability and Bartley isn’t able to slide into being the most responsible guy on the pairing. Barrett Jackman literally falls apart and ends up being used for spare parts in the locker room.

Rinne turns out to actually be made of glass, and after teasing everyone with ten wins in the first 13 games, Rinne gets injured again and Hutton limps along throughout the rest of the regular season as the starter. Hutton puts up a .902 SV% and he’s run out of town during the offseason.


The reality of the situation is somewhere between the extremes. Of course, I think it’s more likely we see the best case scenario rather than the worst. Which is more probable, that the Predators implode and miss the playoffs entirely or that they do something really special this year? My money is on the latter.

The reality is that we don’t know what’s going to happen for a while now. Anyone who claims to know is lying. Everyone is just guessing at something between the best and worst case scenarios. We’re all just hoping that it’s closer to the best.

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