Nashville Predators Locker Cleanout Day

Apr 13, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators players celebrate after the game winning goal by center Juuso Parssinen (75) in overtime against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators players celebrate after the game winning goal by center Juuso Parssinen (75) in overtime against the Minnesota Wild at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Two days after the regular season wrapped up the Nashville Predators came to the locker room & grabbed their belongings and said some goodbyes before the summer.

For the first time in nine seasons, the Nashville Predators’ gym was filled with media members and not players preparing for the opening round of the playoffs.

Prior to hearing from any skaters, the Nashville Predators inked a few pending unrestricted free agents before they left the arena.

Forwards Michael McCarron & Kiefer Sherwood were awarded one-year contracts for the 2023-24 season worth $750,000.

Sherwood is coming off a career-high season in points (13) and scored Nashville’s first and last goal of this season. McCarron on the other hand skated in 32 NHL games & 16 with the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL.

Catching up with the team

Matt Duchene was indeed missing a piece of his left wedding ring finger after taking a shot to the hand back on March 26. He had already hurt his left hand and had a difficult time holding his stick for a few games prior to playing the Toronto Maple Leafs in late March.

“It didn’t hurt as bad as other injuries I’ve had but it just felt weird,” Duchene said. “I pulled my glove off, looked at my finger and that’s the last time I’ve seen it. Lost the tip of it.”

He found out it wasn’t completely reattached but that it had to be reformed through two surgeries. One surgery took place the day he hurt his finger and then three days later.

“Lost part of the bone and put a pin in there. There are a few fractures in there & I’m lucky I didn’t crush it and crush any tendons or anything. I’m supposed to be fine. My hand modeling days are over now.”

Duchene wasn’t sure if it would be a career-altering injury or not and was very emotional when he was hurt. He wakes up each day not believing it went that way.

“The hardest part was leaving the fight with the guys,” Duchene said. “I’m so proud of this group from the veteran guys, some who stepped up and then the young guys doing their thing and watching them do their thing.”

“It’s one of those years it sucks we were in that position, to begin with, but at the same time, it’s nothing to be ashamed of with the group we had at the end and what we did. The teams we were beating and competing with was outstanding so that was the hardest part was not being part of that…It broke my heart to leave that fight.”

The feeling in Duchene’s finger may take some time to come back but he expects everything to be ok. The pin in his finger is slated to come out in a few weeks as it heals. The start of June is when the doctors said the forward could return to the ice for his recovery.

“My grip strength will be the same because It didn’t hit any tendons, we missed all the important stuff. It’s mostly aesthetic that will be the biggest thing,” Duchene said.

Juuse Saros

After a Vezina Trophy-caliber season, Saros ended 2022-23 with the NHL’s most goals saved above expected with 46.7 and 33 wins which is the second-highest total for the Finnish netminder.

“Really proud of the guys with how we pushed in the last 20 to 25 games with all the trades and injuries. I think we all came together and pulled the same rope so that was a lot of fun and battling for the playoffs,” Saros said.

In what felt like two seasons in one Saros learned defensive traits no matter what circumstance he was put in.

“I wasn’t taking too much pressure. I was just trying to do my best and see where it goes, that was my mindset,” Saros said.

When asked about Boston Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark there was no hesitation in recognizing his game and the immaculate play of the top team in the NHL.

“Ullmark for sure is going to win with those numbers,” Saros said. “I’m happy to hear that from the other guys that I was Vezina caliber, it means a lot to me.”

Saros shared the net with Kevin Lankinen who is signed through the next season. The duo spends some time together away from the rink and will prepare to share the blue ice again once again.

Another thing Saros has before he returns to Nashville is getting married.

“Yea we’ll plan before that and we have four other weddings coming so it will be a busy summer. Exciting for sure.”

Filip Forsberg

After missing the final 32 games of the regular season Filip Forsberg capped off his 11th season scoring 42 points in 50 contests.

He was out with a concussion after taking a hit in Philadelphia back on Feb. 11.

“It was probably way worse than it looked,” Forsberg said. “It was an up-and-down experience. Unfortunately, time ran out, the season ran out, and didn’t get a chance to come back.”

Time is on his side now and is feeling a lot better than he was. The pressure is off to try and make a return now that the Predators are out of postseason contention.

During his time away from the team Nashville posted a 17-13-2 record and dressed some new faces in the meantime. Tommy Novak, Philip Tomasino, and Cody Glass highlighted the scoring putting up a combined 66 points.

“It almost made it harder because you want to go out there and play with those guys”, Forsberg said. “They were keeping it alive in a situation that shouldn’t be possible really.”

It was the first time Forsberg had been hit and had that type of repercussion & the worst concussion he’s ever had.

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“No, not at all,” Forsberg said when asked if it’ll affect him long term. “We have the greatest people here around the team and they’ve surrounded me with people who are experts with concussions. I’m not worried at all when it comes to that.”

The Nashville Predators are scheduled to have a press conference with Head Coach John Hynes, General Manager David Poile, and the incoming GM Barry Trotz on Monday starting at 10 a.m.