Reconstructing the Nashville Predators Lineup for 2021

Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators Filip Forsberg (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Roman Josi #59 of the Nashville Predators Filip Forsberg (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

There were lots of moves made by the Nashville Predators once the free agency signing period began. The flames have now died down a bit, so what will the lineup look like next season?

The Nashville Predators were busy during the NHL Draft and free agency. In addition to announcing five regular roster players were departing through free agency, General Manager David Poile also cleared up some cap space to make way for some free agent signings.

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The first major roster move was a trade involving Nick Bonino and two draft picks (37th and 70th). The Predators traded Bonino to the Minnesota Wild for forward Luke Kunin and their 101st pick).

This move freed up Bonino’s $4.1M salary and gave the Predators some salary-cap space. The Predators’ average age also decreased by signing Kunin, who is only 22-years-old.

Kunin is a comparable player to Bonino and could make an appearance on the second line. He has some upside and could provide some needed scoring as well.

Another significant announcement was the buyout of the remaining four years of Kyle Turris’ contract.

This move freed up another $4M of cap space but with one caveat. Turris will be on the Predators payroll for another eight years at $2M annually.

Turris will not only get paid by Nashville, but he also recently signed a two-year deal with the Edmonton Oilers worth $3.3M.

Poile also traded Austin Watson to the Ottawa Senators for a 4th round draft pick in 2021. This move clears even more cap space for the Predators and moves a player who has struggled to produce over the years.

So if you are keeping score at home, the Predators have lost either through retirement, free agency, trades, or a buyout, six forwards and three defensemen.

These departures left some serious gaps in the roster, but free agency signings have filled most of them. Depending on how the upcoming prospects do in training camp, we will be seeing a mixture of some familiar and new faces when next season finally arrives.

Unless Poile has another move up his sleeve, then this is how we see the starting lineup looking whenever next season starts.

First Line – Forsberg, Johansen, Arvidsson

The reunited Johansen line was one of the few bright spots of the Predators’ Stanley Cup Qualifiers appearance. Had this line not produced as they did, the Predators would’ve been swept in the series against Arizona.

The time off during the season pause allowed them time to heal physically and mentally. Viktor Arvidsson never fully recovered from his injury last November. Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen also struggled with their mental game last season, but the time off allowed them to clear their heads.

This will be Head Coach John Hynes’ money line. The expectation will be for them to produce as they have in the past and the Qualifiers. If they don’t, the Predators will quickly find themselves in a lot of trouble.

But no team can rely solely on their top line to carry the full load. This is where things get dicey for the Predators.

Second Line – Kunin, Duchene, Tolvanen

This line combination is the X factor and a possible key to the Predators’ success next season. The performance of this line hinges on Matt Duchene stepping up next year and being a leader.

Duchene took a lot of flack for an offsides call that cost the Predators a game in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. He came out on fire in their Game 4 loss and played to his capabilities. The Predators need him to produce like that all season.

Eeli Tolvanen is all but guaranteed a roster spot next season. There is also a lot riding on his shoulders. Hopefully, he can handle the pressure of a full-time NHL roster spot.

Many had Philip Tomasino slotted on the second line. I don’t think he will be ready for that role next season, so I am putting newly acquired forward Luke Kunin in his place.

Kunin is a young player who fits into Poile’s “youth movement” mold who also played on the second line in Minnesota.

Third Line – Grimaldi, Cousins, Trenin

Last season, the Predators’ third line was the hardest working line for the team and often the best in the NHL, according to The Athletic’s Adam Vingan.

Free agency decimated this line as we saw the departure of Craig Smith and Nick Bonino to Boston and Minnesota, respectively.

Now Rocco Grimaldi is the only player remaining on the third line. He will have some new linemates next season in Nick Cousins and Yakov Trenin.

The addition of Cousins and Trenin adds a new element of physicality to this line. This may change the dynamic of this line, but it will be a welcome change all around.

This line will have their work cut out for them if they are going to be as productive as the third line was last year. But with a new lineup and Grimaldi’s ever-evolving game, they could reclaim the “hardest working line” title.

Fourth Line – Sissons, Richardson, Jarnkrok

Rounding out the offense, we have some Predators veterans and a veteran newcomer.

Brad Richardson brings many years of experience and a Stanley Cup to the table. Calle Jarnkrok and Colton Sissons have been teammates for years.

Once Jarnkrok and Sissons build chemistry with Richardson, this line could see some good production numbers next season.

The growing theme with the Predators’ free agency signings is defense, which Richardson will provide. If Jarnkrok and Sissons can up their numbers from last season, this line will improve over last season’s fourth line.

However, there has been talks that Jarnkrok might be a trade piece, or that Sissons is in line to get top-six minutes. We’ll have to wait and see on that one when training camp opens.


The Predators have one of the best defensive pairings in Ryan Ellis and Norris Trophy winner, Roman Josi. Their leadership will be crucial for next season.

The second pairing of Dante Fabbro and Mattias Ekholm had some growing pains last season but were still a great pair and will continue to grow as they work together more next season.

The third pairing is where the Predators made some significant changes with the signing of Mark Borowiecki and Matt Benning.

Retirement and free agency claimed Dan Hamhuis, Korbinian Holzer, and Yannick Weber. This leaves Jarred Tinordi, who will probably be the Predators healthy scratch next season.

The feeling was that Alexandre Carrier would be in the lineup next season, but with the additions of Borowiecki and Benning, that seems unlikely.

The third pairing deficiencies of last season have been addressed. Through free agency, the Predators are moving towards being a defensive team, which has been a missing component for quite some time.


Obviously, there have been no changes to the goaltending tandem of Pekka Rinne and Juuse Saros for next season. The only difference that has come during free agency is the departure of prospect Troy Grosenick.

The Predators set themselves up for the future by drafting elite goaltender Iaraslov Askarov, who has two more years on his KHL contract. This raises the question of Saros’ role as the Predators’ long-term solution in goal.

If Rinne retires after next season as expected, we will likely see Saros as the number one goaltender and prospect Connor Ingram as his backup. Beyond that is anyone’s guess.

The upcoming expansion draft and the development of Askarov could change the landscape of the goaltending position down the road for Nashville.

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We will have to wait a bit to see the actual lineups that the Predators will go with once training camp is underway. Unless they sign another big-name free agent forward, these may be the players that will carry the team next season, at least until the trade deadline.

With the departure of so many familiar names and the addition of some unfamiliar ones, Predators fans need to settle in and expect some growing pains for this team next season.