Now that the offseason is here sooner than we want for the Nashville Predators, it’s time to start speculating about how there can be improvements.
It’s hard to get to the bottom of why the Nashville Predators fell short of their goal of returning to the Stanley Cup Final. There are many factors, but the biggest is they simply ran into a better team in the Winnipeg Jets. No other way to say it, and you tip your cap to that team.
As for the Predators, we have to focus on what can make them better than teams like the Jets. The Western Conference, and the Central Division, is going to remain murders’ row. As good as the Predators are, they’re still missing some pieces. Losing in the second round, unfortunately, proves that.
The newest speculation is the possible match of the 27-year-old John Tavares. It would be one of the biggest acquisitions in Predators history if it happens. It’s one of the best matches out there for Tavares, according to Darren Dreger of TSN and Cutler Klein of Penalty Box Radio:
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All you can call it right now is a basic thought. However, it’s a thought that’s an extremely intriguing one. You can’t help but wonder at what cost. A mammoth move like this would be a high-risk one.
How Tavares can fit in Nashville
Tavares is a pure goal-scorer unlike anyone the Predators have ever had. You can say that Filip Forsberg is on his way to becoming that, but he’s not there just yet. Tavares has nine seasons of prolific scoring with the New York Islanders under his belt, and he’s not slowing down. Last season he had 37 goals, just one shy of his career high set back in 2014-15 season. I’m not betting one Tavares remaining with the Islanders for a tenth season.
Yes, the Predators are already a stacked team with the roster they have. Just because they were eliminated in the second round by a great Winnipeg team doesn’t mean this current roster can’t get the job done next season. They’re not in a place where they have to make moves out of desperation. However, when a player of Tavares’ magnitude comes on the market, you explore that opportunity.
Adding Tavares raises some interesting questions at the center position. You already have an opening with Mike Fisher retiring again. You have Ryan Johansen on the top line, who I believe is living up to expectations. I don’t want the core foundation of this team to change to sign Tavares, and Johansen is part of that group, along with second line center Kyle Turris.
Then you have the P.K. Subban connection. They’re apparently good friends, but that’s not going to get Tavares in a Predators uniform. With the creativity that it will take to sign Tavares and remain under the cap, there’s no guarantee the Predators would be any better by getting him.
Why it won’t happen
This is a fun topic to toss around. Nothing more in my honest belief. The Predators don’t have the cap space, and aren’t one of those teams that feels like they have to make desperate moves. Doing that could end up doing more harm than good.
Would it be fun to have a superstar, high-scoring superstar like Tavares join the Predators? It absolutely would be. He’d sell a lot of jerseys, and be on plenty of highlight reels. You have to ask yourself if that’s worth possibly making your team worse. Additionally, it might make the window to winning a Stanley Cup even smaller. Jeremy Gover of the Predators Radio Network seems to think this makes perfect sense for Tavares and the Predators:
This offseason is a critical one for GM David Poile. Re-signing some important role players is top priority, most notably Juuse Saros. He’s top priority for me as the Predators are going to be leaning on him even more next season. You also have Ryan Hartman who fits into that conversation of re-signing.
It’s also already obvious that head coach Peter Laviolette wants to keep the majority of this team intact, per Adam Vingan of the Tennessean. Here’s what Laviolette has to say about the current roster:
"“I like our team. I like our players. I like our core. They like each other. They believe in the coach. They believe in each other.”"
That sounds like a head coach who isn’t looking to make blockbuster splashes that will require shifting around his roster. Tavares is a fun topic, but not a realistic one. The Predators have a wide open window to make deep playoff runs for the next several years, and they don’t need Tavares to do that.