Nashville Predators: Way-too-Early Offseason Power Rankings for the West

Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)
Viktor Arvidsson #33 of the Nashville Predators (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images) /

During such an uncertain offseason, who knows exactly where to rank the Nashville Predators and other teams. However, we’re going to attempt it.

The hope is that Nashville Predators hockey will return at the start of the new year, but time is running out for the NHL to come up with a complex plan.

Offseason power rankings usually bring a lot of buzz as everyone tries to predict where their team stands heading into a new season. Good luck with that going into 2021 and what will likely be a significantly shortened regular season.

There are some things to go off of to try to make an assessment on how the league stacks up. Free agency came and went with a lot of movement, especially with goaltenders. Not the craziest free agency day ever, but one that had its moments.

For the Predators, they made several noteworthy roster moves that will make them look much different, and unpredictable. The early thought is to have tempered expectations and understand it’s going to take time for this team to gel.

Where to rank the Predators right now

There’s five live games to go off of for the Predators since March 10 when they beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. They were hitting their stride and surging towards the playoffs at just the right time.

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That team that beat Montreal, and played in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers, is vastly different now. Whether it’s different in a good way or not is something you can only speculate about.

Unless you’re one of the most optimistic fans out there, we can agree the Predators aren’t a top-ten team right now. Doesn’t mean they can’t evolve into that as the season progresses, but you can’t put them there in their current state.

It’s fair to put the Predators firmly in the middle of the NHL pack. Somewhere in the range of 15 to 20. A fringe playoff team, if you will.

What makes me optimistic about the Predators sneaking into another playoff spot next season is they have the strong veteran leadership at the top that just needs to put it all together. Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen can all be in store for strong seasons that will keep this team afloat.

The new faces on the team all bring skills that will fix some of the defensive issues of last season. Most notably Mark Borowiecki, Nick Cousins and Matt Benning.

Luke Kunin comes in as the effective replacement of Nick Bonino. Tough shoes to fill, but Kunin appears to be heading into the prime of his career.

Where to rank other notable teams in the West

The Colorado Avalanche might possibly be the best team in the NHL going into next season. They’re stacked from top to bottom. They’ve been on this ascension to the top of the league for a few seasons now.

The pressure is heavily on Colorado to deliver on these massive expectations. They fell up short last season losing to the Dallas Stars in an exciting series that went the full seven games in the Western Conference Finals.

Speaking of the Dallas Stars, they’re here to stay as well. They figured out a way to retain goaltender Anton Khudobin in free agency, and have the core of their team all returning. The only reservations I have on them is they’ll be battling some injuries initially with Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.

Diving deeper into the Central Division, I think the St. Louis Blues are going to take another step back. They’re still a solid playoff team, but far-removed from their Stanley Cup season.

This is where the rest of the division gets crowded. You can make all kinds of arguments on how to sort out the Minnesota Wild, Winnipeg Jets, Chicago Blackhawks and Nashville Predators.

Yes, I realize that division realignment is a real possibility for the upcoming season, but until we know for sure how that’s going to be constructed, we’ll stick with the normal divisions.

These four teams will battle it out for possibly the last playoff spot, while any four of them could conceivably end up in last place. Out of this group, I’m putting the Wild at the top. Love their upside and the addition of Nick Bonino.

The Vegas Golden Knights aren’t going anywhere in the Pacific Division. They’ll be pushing Colorado and Dallas for the supreme spot in the Western Conference. The blockbuster addition, even if they overpaid, of Alex Pietrangelo may be enough to put them over the top to a Stanley Cup in 2021.

Here’s my way-too-early full power rankings of the Western Conference in the dead part of the offseason:

  1. Colorado Avalanche
  2. Vegas Golden Knights
  3. Dallas Stars
  4. Edmonton Oilers
  5. Vancouver Canucks
  6. St. Louis Blues
  7. Minnesota Wild
  8. Nashville Predators
  9. Calgary Flames
  10. Chicago Blackhawks
  11. Winnipeg Jets
  12. San Jose Sharks
  13. Arizona Coyotes
  14. LA Kings
  15. Anaheim Ducks

Obviously if the divisions are realigned then this will change everything, but as of now I have the Central Division as a vastly more balanced division than the Pacific Division.

The Predators are a very average team that’s hanging on the edge until they can prove to me that they’ve fixed their defensive woes, their youngsters are ready for the NHL and the special teams nightmare is remedied. I also need more proof that Juuse Saros can go a full season as a reliable starting goaltender.

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And if there is geographical division realignment, it’ll be very intriguing to see which new teams are grouped with the Predators. The Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning (ouch) are all possibilities.