Nashville Predators: David Poile’s Last Stand as GM This Offseason?

President of Hockey Operations and general manager David Poile of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
President of Hockey Operations and general manager David Poile of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

The Nashville Predators have only ever known one general manager in the franchise’s history. Is the torch about to be passed in the near future?

Early exits in the playoffs, or missing the actual playoffs altogether, will naturally lead to questions regarding the front office. That’s exactly where the Nashville Predators find themselves as they enter an unprecedented offseason.

The Predators just got knocked out of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, which essentially equates to them missing the traditional postseason of 16 teams. The NHL is counting the qualifying round as the playoffs, but in my book the Predators missed the playoffs this year.

It’s unfamiliar territory for a team that is normally a lock to at least make the 16-team tradition playoff field. A hard fall from 2017 when they were two wins shy of hoisting the franchise’s first Stanley Cup.

Pretty much everyone is in agreement that drastic changes are needed both on the roster and in the front office. Poile is up against his toughest offseason yet with the Nashville Predators.

Pressure is on the front office

This team is going to be up against a wall next season to show drastic improvement from the last three disappointing seasons. It starts with Poile to work his magic as GM to add some personnel to this roster that can correct some of the weaknesses.

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The Predators are regularly identified as a team that doesn’t respond well to physical teams that punch them in the mouth. Teams that play a rugged brand of hockey tend to push the Predators around.

Now Poile has the task of figuring out how he wants to address the weak spots. I think he has to do a combination of both calling up players already in the system while also addressing the free agency market.

Craig Smith and Mikael Granlund are the hot topics of conversation for the offseason. What does Poile decide to do with these two? If he re-signs either one of them, it will lower his ability to sign a free agent from the outside.

Poile also has to decide which prospects, if any, should be called up and start on the opening night roster. There will almost certainly be one or two new faces on the roster that will be called up from the Milwaukee Admirals, or maybe even Philip Tomasino from the OHL.

These are all decisions that Poile will be critiqued on going into this offseason. He doesn’t have the luxury of being satisfied with his current roster makeup. A lot of items on the offseason to-do list.

End of an era?

I think a dramatic change in this franchise is coming from the top down. It may not all happen at once this offseason, but within the next couple of seasons this franchise is going to go a new direction with their front office.

Poile is arguably one of the best GM’s in the history of the NHL. He already has the most wins ever by a GM. There’s no question that he’s been a spectacular GM for the Nashville Predators.

With all of the great accomplishments noted, Poile has made some questionable decisions in recent memory. The Kyle Turris contract is one of the darkest clouds that continues to linger overhead.

Letting Kevin Fiala go and bringing in Granlund appears to have been a swing and a miss. His performances in regards to draft picks are a mixed bag. We’ll have a better assessment of that once the team hopefully starts elevating more prospects next season such as Eeli Tovlanen, Yakov Trenin, Alexandre Carrier and Rem Pitlick.

Poile’s decision to hire John Hynes as head coach quickly after letting go Peter Laviolette will also be critiqued on a deeper level judging by how the team responds to Hynes’ first full season in charge.

But changes are inevitable, and it’s looking more and more like it’s time for the Predators to go a new direction at the very top. This is the last chance for Poile to work his offseason magic that he’s done before, and get this team back towards the top of the Western Conference pecking order.

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If Poile does make some bold moves with the roster this offseason and the Predators advance a couple rounds in the playoffs then obviously the sentiment may change on Poile’s future.

However, if the Predators go into a mini rebuild that I’m afraid is going to happen, then this will probably make the cries even louder to move on from Poile as GM.

It’s been a great run, but it’s looking like it’s time for the Predators to make a full-scale change at the very top barring a dramatic turnaround that includes some major roster moves that end up working.