Nashville Predators: Long-Term Outlook Full of Uncertainty

What does the future hold for the current Nashville Predators roster? No one knows for sure, but something needs to change to avoid a rebuild.

This season was supposed to be the Nashville Predators’ season. Unfortunately, things haven’t gone according to plan for many reason. Some out of their control.

Several articles chronicle the Predators’ woes this season. We all know about inadequate production from star players, weaker defense, and, at times, goaltender issues.

The Predators took one step in the right direction with the hiring of Coach John Hynes.

Defensive areas need some help, and the Predators need to fix their power-play issues, but Hynes seems to have them pointed in the right direction.

Time is a huge factor that’s working against them. The current roster was assembled to make a run at the Stanley Cup. That window may be closing fast, which would leaves the Predators with a shrinking amount of time to make a run.

But what about beyond that? What does this team look like in the long-term? What moves will the Predators need to make to remain viable and to move them towards the ultimate goal, the Stanley Cup?

What’s The Main Issue?

There are two answers to this question; lack of production and lengthy contracts.

Let’s begin with lack of production from key players. The issues that cause this lack of production are mysteries, but remain nonetheless.

Contract lengths are another issue that could hamper the Predators as they try to move forward.

There are several players with long contract terms, some of which haven’t performed to the level of that contract.

Here’s a list of the current contracts that are lengthy, especially when you compare the compensation with the on-ice performance:

These five players have struggled this season. Unfortunately, when players have contracts of this size, performance is expected. It just hasn’t been there for these guys.

Improvement in play from these players is paramount when looking at the long-term future of this franchise past this season and the next.

Where they go from here

Scenario 1

In the first scenario, the Predators could choose to do nothing at all. This scenario involves keeping the current roster together for the foreseeable future no matter what.

Given the somewhat big moves that have been made in the past by GM David Poile, this is highly unlikely. Roster changes are inevitable.

Scenario 2

The second scenario is to rip down the entire team and rebuild it. Once again, highly unlikely. Poile has been with the Predators since their inception. Retirement could likely be in his near future.

Poile would not want to retire from the organization and have his legacy ruined by being known as the GM that dismantled the Nashville Predators. He has worked too hard to assemble the current team to let that happen.

Scenario 3

This brings us to the third and most likely scenario; keep the core of the team together, replace unproductive players, continue to develop prospects, while making smart draft choices.

This is obviously a tall order to come through with. A lot can go wrong.

By keeping core players together, you maintain some stability within the team. The Predators’ core players, like Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Filip Forsberg, have the experience and leadership to keep the team moving forward.

Sometimes it becomes necessary to make drastic changes if higher-paid players remain unproductive. While it can be difficult to move players with long contracts, it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

One of the finer points of this scenario is high development in the prospect pool and getting stronger from within. Along with that, nailing the draft with wise draft picks.

Mixing these prospects in with your core can keep the team from going into a rebuild anytime soon.

The Predators have several prospects who are looking to be on the roster next season and beyond.

Highly-touted prospects like Egor Afanasyev, Connor Ingram, and Alexandre Carrier are all looking for roster spots and want to make their mark on the team.

We’ve taken a look at three players that could help the Predators in the future through the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Centers Hendrix Lapierre, Dawson Mercer, and offensive sniper Seth Jarvis are good draft prospects to target.

If the Predators choose any of these three and develop them correctly, they’ll have a badly needed offensive weapon to develop for the long-term future.

Next: Predators' Craig Smith Needs More Ice Time in Upcoming Play

Free agency could impact the roster next year. The Predators have some big upcoming free agents that will need to be sorted out, including Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund.

Past this season and next, the Predators will have some pretty big decisions to make if they want to remain in the Stanley Cup conversation and avoid the dreaded rebuild that eventually plagues every franchise.