Nashville Predators: Early and Bold Predictions for Next Season

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 18: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators walks out for warmups prior to an NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres at Bridgestone Arena on January 18, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 18: Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators walks out for warmups prior to an NHL game against the Buffalo Sabres at Bridgestone Arena on January 18, 2020 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by John Russell/NHLI via Getty Images) /

If the current season is unable to resume what can we look forward to from the Nashville Predators next season? Is their window still as open as before?

As hockey fans press on while the NHL season is paused, it seems that the window of opportunity to finish the 2019-20 season is closing fast.

As the days pass, we hear lots of cancellation or postponement announcements from the NHL. It was announced this week that the NHL Scouting Combine, NHL Awards and NHL Draft have been postponed due to the coronavirus.

There have also been discussions by the NHL regarding arena availability in August. If August is viable that would mean that the 2019-20 season would end sometime in September. The new season would then start in October. That is a very tight timeline if it is even possible at all.

With the current season in jeopardy, let’s forge ahead to next season. Here are some early predictions for the Nashville Predators next season, including how much they can improve.

Top Performances From The Top Players

Captain Roman Josi has had a great season. If the NHL awards are eventually handed out for this season, he will probably be receiving the Norris Trophy. Roman currently sits at 65 points and 16 goals and it would be his first of his career.

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I expect that next season will be no different for Josi. He will be looking for redemption for what has been perceived as a disappointing previous season for the Nashville Predators as a whole.

As the team leader, he’ll be looking for his fellow teammates to step up their games and play to this team’s true potential.

Ryan Ellis will be looking for redemption next year as well. Had he not been injured, he was on track to better his statistics from last year in every category.

I’m convinced Ellis returning to the lineup gave the slumping Predators the boost they needed. I look for the associate captain to help ignite the team in the offseason and help them make a run for the Stanley Cup in the near future.

Filip Forsberg may have been in a slump for a bit, but he started coming to life right before the season was paused. He’s got to live up to his enormous talent level and potential.

He’ll be looking to make a big impact next season. Forsberg has another gear that the fans haven’t seen yet, and it’s one that can take him to an elite level and move the Predators back to the top of the Central Division.

Who Needs To Step Up

Matt Duchene didn’t live up to all the hype that surrounded his arrival in Nashville. It’s definitely been nowhere close to being a career year for him. He showed us flashes of his playing ability, but he never really caught fire.

Ryan Johansen is in the same boat as Duchene.  He never really played to his capability this year. Also, like Duchene, he showed signs of brilliance on the ice, but those moments were scattered.

Viktor Arvidsson hasn’t played well since coming back from injury. Admittedly, he struggled to keep up and never really got his speed back. Hopefully, the time off will allow him to heal and return to form.

Colton Sissons and Austin Watson both fall into this category as well. With only 15 and 14 points respectively, both have underperformed and need to step up in a big way to boost the bottom six of the lineup.

The Nashville Predators need the absolute best from these players. Two of the five players listed are some of the highest-paid athletes on the team.

When you receive a large salary, expectations are very high. They will need to up their games next season, especially Duchene, if the team is to be successful on a level that’s more than just making the playoffs. They need to be pushing into the Western Conference Finals.

Who May Not Be Back

Fan-favorite Dan Hamhuis is an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. He is also 37-years-old. It has been one of the least productive seasons of his career, and understandbly so considering his age.

Hamhuis will probably retire at the end of this season. He’s had a great career to be proud of, but I think his time in the NHL is at an end.

Colin Blackwell and Yannick Weber are unrestricted free agents at the end of this season as well.

Blackwell played 26 games in the AHL for Milwaukee before becoming more of a regular in the Predators lineup, while Weber bounced around between being a healthy scratch and starting on the third defensive pairing mainly.

While we don’t have a crystal ball we can kind of see what may play out with Blackwell. I would say that management will definitely bring him back and pleased with his NHL showings.

Blackwell had ten points in 33 games and brought strong forechecking and defensives presence to the team as well. At a time when it was drastically needed.

Weber hasn’t faired as well this season. His offensive production is basically non-existent. Since Milwaukee has players that could be called up and could make a bigger impact with the Predators, I don’t see Weber being on the team next season.

3 Players Who Are Big Question Marks

General Manager David Poile took a gamble and kept Mikael Granlund at the trade deadline. This move paid off in spades.

Under Head Coach John Hynes, Granlund soared and began playing up to his potential. Poile should use the extra cash from the salary cap raise and pay to keep Granlund.

Granlund should be Poile’s top priority in the offseason. If all goes well, Granlund will remain with the team and be a major contributor on the top two lines.

Craig Smith is another player that was discussed at the trade deadline. Once again, Poile opted to keep the Nashville lifer on the roster.

Smith also surged under Hynes. He even got his first career hat trick. Smith will not command as much money as Granlund, but he does deserve a raise. Poile should try to retain Smith.

As has been discussed numerous times, Pekka Rinne has had an off-year this season. At 37 years of age, many feel that his career may be at an end in the short-term future.

Rinne has one year left on his contract. My hope is that he will stay on at least through the end of his contract to mentor goaltender Juuse Saros for one more season and play the backup role.

No one could have imagined that the Predators would have a season like this. On paper, they are a top team in the NHL. On the ice, they have been disheartening to watch at times.

We all know the potential that this team has.  I believe that with a full season under Coach John Hynes this team could be dangerous once again.

More. Ryan Ellis Rightfully Recognized as Highly Underrated. light

If the higher profile players step up next season, we could be in for a fun ride. A ride that will be similar to 2017 when the Predators took the NHL by storm in the playoffs and captivated the city of Nashville, or Smashville.