As the 2021-2022 Nashville Predators season gets closer and closer to its end, the time is coming for teams to think about their offseason plans.
For a team like the Nashville Predators, they are in a weird spot because they look like they are going to play some playoff hockey in a few weeks, but also have some questions to answer this offseason.
Looking at the Nashville Predators salary cap situation right now, their projected cap hit at the start of the season is $55,487,809. With the cap projected to go up to $82.5M next season, this means that the Predators will have $27,012,191 in cap space to start the offseason.
This looks like a luxury, but it’s really not because of the cap floor, which will be somewhere in between $60M and $62M next season.
For a team that is still in the middle of their youth movement, spending money on the sufficient amount of players while giving their young guys an opportunity to play could be a tough task.
Nashville Predators still should not have to do much this offseason
As has been the situation for months now, nothing this offseason holds precedence over re-signing Filip Forsberg. Since the Predators couldn’t lock him up and still opted not to trade him at the deadline, they will be doing everything they can to bring him back and avoid losing him for nothing.
The word for the past few months has been that the Predators have been in active discussions with Forsberg and his camp, but just haven’t come to an agreement yet.
With the lack of leverage that the team has in negotiations and the need to get above the cap floor, there is a really good chance that General Manager David Poile overpays to keep him around.
The other guys who are set to hit the open market this offseason include Nick Cousins, Matt Benning, Ben Harpur, Jeremy Davies, and David Rittich. Frankly, it would be a surprise if any of them are brought back.
The key restricted free agents are Luke Kunin, Cody Glass, Matt Luff, Yakov Trenin, and Jeremy Lauzon. With the exception of Luff, who could still be re-signed, all of these players are almost a guarantee to be back next season.
Kunin has not had a good year and some are beginning to question his future on the team, but don’t forget that he was a key player last year and was protected in the Seattle expansion draft. He is likely given one more chance to figure it out, especially given his young age.
Players that could be traded to open up more room for youth
At first glance, it does not look like the Nashville Predators should have much trouble meeting the cap floor, especially if they re-sign Forsberg, but things could get dicey if they look to unload a player or two from their current roster.
One player who immediately comes to mind here is Ryan Johansen.
Trading Johansen will not be easy, as he is still on an expensive contract that he has not exactly lived up to. That being said, he is still a very talented player who has proven that he can elevate a team with a hole at center.
Johansen’s contract only has three more years after this one, so it is not the worst thing in the world by any means.
Johansen has done well this year when put in between Forsberg and Matt Duchene, but Mikael Granlund has shown to be capable of everything Johansen is when in the same spot, and is $3M per year cheaper.
Glass needs to be playing as a permanent top-six center before long, and Johansen is just too good to be playing on the third line.
Unfortunatey, Johansen just isn’t a great fit on the Predators anymore, and both sides would likely benefit if they were to part ways. They may not get much in return if it even happens, but it is not something that’s completely out of the realm of possibility.
So while it is still a long shot, if Johansen is traded, the Predators still should not worry about being under the cap floor. They might be close to it, but they have enough restricted free agents to sign. Connor Ingram is likely to be the backup goaltender next year, and especially if Forsberg comes back, they will have at the very least, just enough assets to meet the cap floor.
Given, you should not expect the Predators to do much in free agency this offseason, and any trades made should be ones in which they are selling. The youngsters on the team are vital parts of the future core and still developing, and at this point in the process, they should continue to have patience.
Unless the Predators decide to be aggressive and go after a proven superstar level player to put themselves over the top, expect a fairly quiet offseason.