Nashville Predators Entering Tank for Connor Bedard Discussion

EDMONTON, AB - AUGUST 17: Connor Bedard #16 of Canada walks to the ice prior to the game against Switzerland in the IIHF World Junior Championship on August 17, 2022 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images)
EDMONTON, AB - AUGUST 17: Connor Bedard #16 of Canada walks to the ice prior to the game against Switzerland in the IIHF World Junior Championship on August 17, 2022 at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada (Photo by Andy Devlin/ Getty Images) /

Like a sinking ship slowly taking on water, the Nashville Predators are gradually drifting into the depths of darkness if they don’t turn this around quickly. I’m giving it the rest of December to see which direction they go.

The seven of nine winning stretch where the Predators had some gritty wins and got 17 of a possible 18 points in the standings patched things up temporarily, but now it looks apparent that it was just fool’s gold.

The losing streak has reached six games, their longest since early 2019-20. That was covid-19 shortened season when they barely crept into the Stanley Cup Qualifiers. Last season they never lost more than four in a row.

It’s Quite Simple why the Nashville Predators are So Bad 

The major eyesore for this team is quite clear; they can’t score, they can’t finish, and they can’t make the critical plays even when they do have juicy scoring chances. That was clear in last night’s 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche. A game that was there for the taking.

First off, I’m never condoning a team actually tanking on purpose. Players play to win, not for draft positioning. However, the fans have every right to start thinking about that ominous term, if they haven’t already started.

I’ve officially entered the dark side on this tanking thing. The loss to the Avalanche on Saturday night was the final death blow that pushed me to this sad state.

With under two minutes left in regulation, I saw a Nashville Predators team full of core veterans who looked disengaged, lackadaisical and nonchalant in their pursuit of getting the tying goal. Hanging their heads in frustration and their spirit looking broken.

The Predators pulled Juuse Saros to have the extra man advantage, but the Avalanche snuffed that out rather easily and got the empty netter. An Avalanche team, mind you, that is nowhere near at full strength.

Filip Forsberg did have one excellent chance to get the equalizer, but Alexander Georgiev read the play and got in position to make the game-clinching save. It drew a smirk of disbelief from Forsberg.

The Predators are now in a three-way tie with the Flyers and Ducks for one of the lowest goal scoring outputs in the NHL. Only the Blackhawks are worse, and they’re not too far behind.

Unfortunately, I can see this getting much worse than it already is for the Nashville Predators. They need another stretch similar to what they had a couple weeks ago, and that’s going to take beating some top contenders in each conference. Edmonton, Colorado, Vegas, Carolina and Toronto are all on the schedule over the next three weeks.

Is there a Remedy to Fix this Broken Team Right Now?

First off, the Nashville Predators need Ryan McDonagh back desperately. Not because he’ll fix the offensive issues, but because we can at least rely on his leadership on the ice defensively. Too many unforced errors are putting Saros, who has been incredibly clutch despite the losses, in really bad situations.

McDonagh can at least bring more stability to the defensive core.

My biggest reason for feeling like the Predators are about to sink even lower and into that tanking discussion for draft position is not seeing any answers in the forward core. Do we really think Forsberg and Matt Duchene are going to kick it back into the high gear they were at last season? Seems unlikely, despite Duchene scoring a pretty slick goal in the last game.

Mikael Granlund has been a ghost offensively. Sure, he gets some assists here and there and plays hard on the defensive end, but his goal scoring has sunken so low that he actually got demoted to a bottom-six role in favor of the higher performing Cody Glass in the last game. A roster move I agreed with from Head Coach John Hynes.

Granlund is ninth on the team in Shots on Goal despite averaging over 19 minutes of ice time and being a top-six center. It’s just simply inexcusable, and Glass has at least been generating offense and has been the victim of some great goaltending in his scoring chances over the past two games against Winnipeg and Colorado.

That gets me to Hynes. The guy is obviously scrambling with this lineup trying to find something that can wake this offense and power play up. Nothing has worked, and the personnel to fix this might just not be available. That leaves you to eventually having to resort to wholesale roster changes and making massive call-ups to start thinking past this current season.

I’ve heard from some pundits that there’s no way Hynes is getting fired before the season ends. I just don’t see that as a certainty. The front office gave Hynes a roster many thought he could not only win with, but actually battle with the top teams in the division. It’s not happening, and the head coach usually is the first one to fall on the sword.

We’ll see how much worse it gets before the front office is forced into a drastic move.

Predators Need a Top-10 Draft Pick, Commit to a Rebuild 

This brings us to the 2023 NHL projected draft class. It looks to be a deep one with elite talent if you’re picking top-10. The Predators with thew ay they’re going have a fairly decent chance to end up with a top-10 pick for the first time since 2013 when they selected Seth Jones with the No.4 overall pick.

Connor Bedard is the undisputed top projected pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. He’s called an “elite goal scorer” by The Hockey Writers latest rankings. The Predators have never picked high enough to really have a shot at a generational offensive talent like this.

Bedard has 64 points in 28 games for the Regina Pats of the WHL while wearing the “C” patch. He’s getting ready to be under the spotlight at the 2023 World Junior Championship for Team Canada:

It doesn’t stop with Bedard, however, if you’re thinking about tanking. The draft class, as previously mentioned, looks deeper than the more recent draft classes that had a lot of uncertainty due to scouting reports taking a hit from covid cancellations.

The Hockey Writers have their top-12 prospects in the draft class as either centers or wingers. A position that if the Predators are picking top-10, they need to be targeting one of these offensive drivers.

The Predators need to be drafting for speed, power and ice vision. Much of what I’m already seeing from Juuso Pärssinen in the early going of his Predators career.

An early draft target I have circled for the Predators that seems much more realistic than winning the draft lottery for Bedard, is Brayden Yager. Another WHL product with a powerful shot and speed in transition.

Check out this aggressive transition play and finishing ability from Yager, courtesy of

TC Hockey:

Everyone’s fear shouldn’t be about the Nashville Predators losing anymore. It should haunt them in their nightmares if they win just enough to fall back to the 15th pick or later, barely creep in the playoffs again only to get decisively eliminated at the hands of Dallas, Vegas, Winnipeg, Colorado, etc.

Unless some unforeseen and miraculous double digit winning stretch is coming, then this front office is going to have to seriously consider being hard sellers at the trade deadline on March 3. Open this roster up, acquire draft capital and start featuring your younger talent with more ice time. Glass, Pärssinen, Jordan Gross and call back up Philip Tomasino to finish out 2022-23 on the NHL level.

Next. Predlines Mailbag: Lackluster Product. dark

I’ll wrap it up with this; the Nashville Predators have a prospect pool full of talent that should make you hopeful for the long-term future. It’s going to take time and a few years of being pretty bad. I’d rather see that with a long-term vision and the chance at drafting elite talent than to continue to fool ourselves with first round postseason exits and picking too far back in the first round.