There might very well be another significant roster move left for the Nashville Predators this offseason, but if they are indeed done making additions, then it’s safe to say it’s been a productive summer for the front office.
Objectively speaking, the Nashville Predators have no doubt upgraded their roster and become a more viable postseason contender. There’s no way around the fact that they were badly exposed in this year’s playoffs by getting swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche.
No one in their right mind was expecting the Predators defeat the Avalanche in a seven-game series, but the sweep was severely humbling. This is why this offseason was set up to be a critical one.
Nashville Predators are undoubtedly a much better team than they were two months ago
With all of the cap space the Predators had going into it, and the comments made by General Manager David Poile in the press conference to wrap up the season, it was made clear that changed needed to be made.
To Poile’s credit, he delivered on that intention.
As the team stands right now, you can fairly expect this team to compete for a top-three spot in th division. They should be able to compete with the Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and Dallas Stars for a spot right behind the Avalanche.
As happy as I am with the improvement this roster has gotten over the past two months, I can’t make the leap that they’re a realistic competitor for division supremacy over the Avalanche.
However, the Predators should certainly have high expectations to move up the Central Division hierarchy and be a team no one should want to face in the postseason.
What’s great about what the Predators have done this offseason is they’ve stayed true to their core values and what kind of team they want to be. The hardest-working team on the ice every night that relentlessly forechecks, blocks shots, plays disciplined and builds undeniable line chemistry.
McDonagh solidifies the defensive core and gives the Predators one of the more balanced and formidable top two pairings in the league. They should do wonders protecting Juuse Saros this season.
With the defensive core combined with Saros being a top-five, even arguably top-three, goaltender in this league should allow the Predators to be very difficult to score against. Of course a lot of that hinges on the Predators getting much better at not taking unnecessary penalties.
The Predators led the league in penalty minutes, penalty minutes per game, and total penalties taken. They also led the NHL in penalties drawn.
Niedeirreiter a huge upgrade to the lineup
That brings me to my next point why the Predators’ ceiling has risen after this offseason. The trade of Luke Kunin is a great addition by subtraction move. No offense to Kunin, but he was a huge liability in the penalty box, and often times hurt the team more than helped with his style of play.
You’re basically swapping out Niederreiter for Kunin, and virtually anyone with half of a brain would say that’s a home run upgrade.
Assuming this team doesn’t have any catastrophic injuries that lose key players for long periods of time, then this team is built to finally get past the first round hump again. They have a roster that is blended with young talent and saavy veterans that know how to win.
That’s why the re-signing of Filip Forsberg was so massive. If he’s not coming back, then it disrupts anything else you could’ve accomplished this offseason. With him back, and everything else you’ve done, we should be extremely excited about what this team can accomplish in 2022-23.
Finally, if we see expected development from young players who got extensive playing time last season, then this team will show improvement in that area as well. I’m referring to Alexandre Carrier, Philip Tomasino, Tanner Jeannot, Yakov Trenin and (hopefully) Eeli Tolvanen.
With very modest success since the Stanley Cup run, and almost no postseason success, it appears that next season we can finally have high expecations and hold the Nashville Predators to a high standard, unlike this time last year when expectations were modest at best.