Offseason Outlook for the Nashville Predators as End of Season Looms

Nashville Predators center Mark Jankowski (17) celebrates with teammates after a goal during the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators center Mark Jankowski (17) celebrates with teammates after a goal during the first period against the Carolina Hurricanes at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Well, no one can accuse the Nashville Predators of packing it in and resting on excuses for why their eight-year playoff streak will likely come to an official end in the next week.

In what was another matchup that had heavy playoff implications and being a major underdog on paper, the Nashville Predators just couldn’t muster up any offense as they fell to the Winnipeg Jets 2-0.

In their three losses to the Jets this season, the combined scoring deficit was just four goals. Now with only three games left, the Predators would need the Jets to lose out while also winning their remaining three games.

The Calgary Flames have two games left and sit two points ahead of the Predators. They’ll face each other Monday. A win for the Predators combined by a Jets loss to the San Jose Sharks will be the final slim chance the Predators have.

But let’s put that all aside. Regardless of what happens in respect to the playoffs, the Nashville Predators have more than just salvaged this season into a special one. They’ve shown that they’re reloading, not rebuilding.

Playoffs or Not, this Offseason will Bring a Ton of Buzz Around Preds 

It looked doomed to go one of two really bad directions; either the front office would avoid selling at the trade deadline and suffer another lackluster first round exit, or the injuries were going to bury this team into the standings so deep that the playoffs would’ve been out of reach weeks ago, if not months.

A huge amount of credit goes to the revolving door of prospects and AHL players rising up to the challenge of getting heavy NHL minutes and no going down quietly.

What has unfortunately caught up with the Predators, and we saw it clearly against the Jets on Saturday night, is it takes time and patience to build a complete team that can sustain offense. Losing Roman Josi was the injury that really made it so insurmountable to ultimately overcome.

I will die on this hill that if Josi doesn’t get injured, the Nashville Predators are making the playoffs. That’s just my opinion and I can’t state that as fact, but does it every make me wonder. Everything else could’ve sustained, but not losing Josi.

Even without Josi, the Predators managed to somehow tread water thanks to much better defensive structure and, of course, Vezina Trophy caliber goaltender from Juuse Saros.

Saros’ play in net should’ve surprised no one, but the constant shuffling of defensive pairings and leaning on the inexperience of Spencer Stastney, Cal Foote, Kevin Gravel and Jake Livingstone and yet this team still managed to keep games close.

Through all of this, the Predators penalty kill impressively has a chance to finish top-10 in the NHL. They’ve gone 8-for-8 on the penalty kill in their last three games against the Golden Knights, Hurricanes and Jets.

Heading into the offseason, the Predators are going to have a ton of buzz around them on how they handle the draft and if they trade some picks to move up.

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Looking Ahead to 2023 Offseason for Nashville Predators 

The Predators have already taken care of all of their pending free agents with the exceptions of Kiefer Sherwood and Alexandre Carrier.

Sherwood has earned himself at least another one-year two-way deal, but he might get more than that and deservedly so if that happens.

As for Carrier, he’s an RFA with arbitration eligibility. He has been out since early March with an upper body injury and was yet another very difficult injury for the Predators to overcome in a string of injuries that started with Filip Forsberg‘s head injury on February 11.

Carrier headlines the free agency talks this offseason for the Nashville Predators.

And then that leads us to the job status of Head Coach John Hynes. Even with the team more than likely missing the playoffs, I can’t see the front office holding his feet to the fire with everything that’s happened.

If anything, Hynes has probably almost certainly earned himself another year as new GM Barry Trotz officially takes the reigns from David Poile. However, there is this head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals named Karl Taylor who has unequivocally earned himself a promotion to be behind the bench for an NHL team.

Look, no one ever said exactly how long rebuilds, or “retools”, have to take. With how this team has responded and played competitive hockey with playmakers like Cody Glass, Luke Evangelista, Philip Tomasino and Tommy Novak, the Predators can be right back in playoff contention next season.

You add Forsberg, Josi, Matt Duchene and Juuso Parssinen back into the mix and there will be difficult decisions to make on who is on the outside looking in. Where does Evangelista start out to open 2023-24? Egor Afanasyev for that matter?

Next. Why Juuse Saros has Pushed Himself Back into Vezina Trophy Debate. dark

A lot to sort out when training camp gets here, and especially so if the Predators do indeed move on from Hynes and a new head coach takes over, which would be only the fourth head coach in Nashville Predators history.

I don’t see this team going through some long, arduous rebuild to the likes of what the San Jose Sharks or Anaheim Ducks have gone through. They have tons of options and young pieces that can keep this team playoff competitive. Heck, we’ve already seen that on full display over the last month.

A lot to be excited about this summer surrounding the Nashville Predators with the 2023 NHL Entry Draft and NHL Awards being held right in Smashville.

The Nashville Predators currently have 13 draft picks this summer, with 10 of those coming in the first four rounds. They’ll be wheeling and dealing on draft day, no doubt.