This is the final year I’ll do. Everything after the current season has just been speculation with facts sprinkled around. This year is the biggest stretch with the most speculation though. I really believe that if Ellis isn’t gone by now, Ekholm will be traded. By now Girard, Carrier, and Fabbro will be full-time NHLers and trying to make their way up the lineup. That said, the players leaving will be Samuel Girard, Roman Josi, Frederick Gaudreau, Austin Watson, and Craig Smith.
This, of course, assumes that Girard plays more than nine games this season and burns a year of his entry-level contract. We can debate whether or not he should play more than nine games (he should), but this is a large assumption.
Roman Josi isn’t going anywhere. He’ll be thirty and probably chasing his last large contract. I’d expect the Predators to offer their captain a max term worth nine million, like Subban. I’d expect Gaudreau and Watson to not receive a contract. Gaudreau is an extremely average center who’s best used in depth situations, but the rise of Kamenev or Pettersson will displace him. Watson will probably be in a similar situation as someone younger, cheaper, and possibly better will emerge.
Oh and you can forget about Craig Smith. Holy smokes that’s 4.5 million the Predators desperately want back. I like Smith a lot but he’s overpaid and he’ll most likely be replaced by Eeli Tolvanen.
I can’t predict the future. Except that there’ll be a lockout in 2020, but that’s a different story. Back to the point, the Canadian markets could crash and the NHL could devolve into a 60 million cap league. It probably won’t but it’s a possibility. Who knows if David Poile keeps up his diligent spending, he may go crazy this offseason and sign a bunch of albatrosses in an effort to win now. But if everything stays the course, the Nashville Predators are set for the future.