How will the new guys fit in?
With Nino Niederreiter and Ryan McDonagh joining the fold, it will be a storyline in the preseason to see where exactly they slot into the lineup.
Starting with Niederreiter, it’s conceivable that he’ll be on a line with Ryan Johansen. Those two shouldn’t have much trouble building quick chemistry and giving the Nashville Predators a strong second line.
Niederreiter should get looks on the penalty kill as well in the preseason. His two-way ability is very well known and will make the Predators much more formidable defensively as he’s a savvy veteran that plays hard on the forecheck.
Considering the Predators were the most penalized team in the NHL last season, constructing an effective penalty kill is going to be critical to their success in 2022-23. I don’t see them suddenly becoming a team that takes a low number of penalties.
Then you have McDonagh, which was your prize addition of the offseason. A power move by the front office to make this team a respectable one again in the postseason.
Who will McDonagh’s initial defensive pairing linemate be? Roman Josi and McDonagh would be an incredible top defensive line, but that would mean breaking up Alexandre Carrier who also played well with Josi.
Kevin Lankinen is the new backup to Juuse Saros, so expect to see him get at least two games in the preseason. He’s looking to bounce back and take some pressure off of Saros. It was a horrendous season for him with the Blackhawks in 2021-22.
You also can’t leave out Zach Sanford, who is flying under the radar but could end up being a very impactful move when we look back on it.
We’ll get a window into what Hynes is thinking in this regard in practices and in the first starting lineup he constructs in the preseason. Expect some early shuffling to see what works best.