The Nashville Predators have decisions to make. Very tough decisions. Last time around, they elected to protect eight skaters and a goalie. It only meant losing James Neal, a player who was not likely to stay around long-term. With four key defensemen, it made sense to protect eight total skaters. This time around, it will not be so clear.
Between now and 2021, the Predators will have several players become free agents. Currently, the only players on the 2021-22 roster are Ryan Johansen, Calle Jarnkrok, Kyle Turris, Filip Forsberg, Viktor Arvidsson, P.K. Subban, Mattias Ekholm, and Ryan Ellis. These eight players are worth protecting alone.
The problem comes in when you add in players who are not under contract for the 2021-22 season. Here are the players who will be either UFA or RFA each season.
As you can see, there are major decisions to make for the Predators before the Expansion Draft in 2021. Certainly, we would like to see most – if not all – these players stay with the Predators. The biggest name on this list is Roman Josi. Can they afford him or will he walk away from the team for more money? His signing will force the hand of the team in who they protect.
Add to this Smith, Fiala, Tolvanen, Hartman, and Bonino, you can see the issue the team will have in 2021.