Nashville Predators Opinion: Pack It In for the Season

Dec 27, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; General view of Bridgestone Arena prior to the Nashville Predators game against the Minnesota Wild. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 27, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; General view of Bridgestone Arena prior to the Nashville Predators game against the Minnesota Wild. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators are not having the season they thought they would have. Nearing the mid-point of the year, it may be time to call it a day.

The Nashville Predators currently sit in10th place in a conference of 14 teams, and are 22nd of all 30 NHL teams. Needless to say, the position currently sits the Predators outside of the playoff picture, where they have spent a good deal of the season.

Recently, injuries to players like P.K. Subban, James Neal, Colin Wilson, and Viktor Arvidsson have taken the fear out of the Nashville Predators lineup. But even before this most recent stretch of injuries, the team was not exactly lighting it up.

Outside of their successful stint during the month of November, the Nashville Predators have been well below average, notching only an 8-14-5 record. That, like it or not, is a draft lottery type of record.

Overall the team stands at 17-16-7. That’s treading water, and treading water is worst thing a team can do. It’s not good enough to make the playoffs yet not bad enough to have a solid draft pick.

The Definition of Insanity- Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

Can the Nashville Predators turn it around? Sure, but don’t count on it. Last year the team was in a similar spot, outside looking in with a bundle of teams to leapfrog in the standings.  Suddenly, the post All-Star break Nashville Predators strung together a franchise record 14 game point-streak to dig themselves out of the fray, and eventually claim a wild-card spot.

What sparked that success? Only the massive franchise-shifting trade of Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen. And the likeliness of the team to make yet another change of this magnitude is minimal, especially considering that it’d be the third huge move (Shea Weber for Subban) in just over a calendar year.

But that is just the issue the Nashville Predators face. They will yet again need to piece together another record-breaking run just to make the playoffs.

Let’s say they do the improbable and sneak into a wildcard spot. The Predators will once again be faced with a terrible first round matchup against a division winner on the road. They could even somehow overtake St. Louis and win the honor of playing Chicago on the road. Oh joy! Nashville Predators fans have seen this movie before… we know how it ends.

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If the Predators want post-season success, they need to improve their regular season play. Win the division and earn the opportunity to play against teams like Calgary or Edmonton in the first round. This team cannot go through St. Louis, Chicago, San Jose, and Anaheim every year and expect to live to tell the tale.

We saw this scenario last year: The Nashville Predators sneak in and play Anaheim every other day. The Ducks, a tough checking team with geographical distance, physically wore the Predators out. Yes, the Nashville Predators won the battle, but they lost the war. By game 7 in the second round, the tank was empty and it was obvious.

This writer fails to see the long-term benefit of making the playoffs just to face an elite team in the first round. Predators players have been to the playoffs before, it’s not new. Moreover, even the youngest players on the Predators have been playing hockey itself for 15-20 years, they understand the concept of the playoffs. They played major juniors or NCAA, many even won gold in the World Juniors Championships.

Losing in the first or second round won’t teach Ryan Johansen or Filip Forsberg anything anymore. The Nashville Predators are not elite, at least not yet. Until the team can string together a full, successful regular season, the Nashville Predators are going nowhere.

Sell Sell Sell

Unless the team drastically improves its standing by February, the Nashville Predators need to switch gears into full sell mode. No, I am not talking about any of the young players. I mean players like Mike Ribeiro.

As much as some people hate him, Ribeiro is a perennial 50 point player and a free agent come July 1st. Imagine Chicago with him on the 3rd line. It is not hard to fathom David Poile getting a solid draft 1st or 2nd round draft pick for Ribs.

Remember, Paul Gaustad cost a 1st rounder. Teams will get desperate to grab any advantage they can. Don’t count out Mike Fisher either, while it would be painful, teams would offer up a solid package for two months of his services.

With a below-average record and the current litany of injuries, Nashville is in a prime position to aim for a better draft pick next season, grab what value they can from their short-term veterans, and insulate for the expansion draft. All of this will help to build a stronger base around the core of young talent that is inked with the Preds on a long term basis.

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As much as I hate it, the team is probably better off falling apart this year and getting better, and more draft picks. An extra month of training in the summer can only help. This current Nashville Predators team is not good enough to get through the best of either the Central or Pacific division. I am not so sure another early playoff exit is going to teach these players anything.