The offseason is officially underway for the Nashville Predators as the NHL Playoffs are set to start Monday evening.
Some clarity on the everyday players on the roster has been given, but now with the keys handed over to Barry Trotz, all of the chips are on the table.
Clamor among the Predators fans has been about will Head Coach John Hynes be back this fall with a new general manager coming in. Trotz wasn’t bashful about sharing his thoughts sitting next to Hynes.
"“Well, John has a contract, and as I said this will be a process,” Trotz said. “I’m going to evaluate from the players to the staff and to John. We’re going to talk about his plan for next year and go from there. That’s the process and you have to respect the process. It’s the same process David has gone through with me for a long time.”"
Nashville will meet with their players over the next few days and Trotz asked for patience as he evaluates where his team is heading into the summer. An additional piece to the itinerary is meeting with the coaching staff to be evaluated as well.
In terms of how this roster will look come October, it’s up in the air. As far as framework goes the veteran NHL coach who’s now becoming the franchise’s second GM has an inkling for his approach.
“I think it’s going to be a blend,” Trotz said. “There’s growth. Some of the older players had career years and they were important for us to win. Then you have the emergence of young players, take a Tommy Novak, we moved Mikael Granlund for instance so that Novak might have an opportunity to come in and do what he’s done.”
Some young men are becoming men after this season. Cody Glass earned his spot on the roster out of camp coming into the season while Philip Tomasino started in Milwaukee with the Admirals and then was given an opportunity.
Albeit, the defense department was tested as well. Late in the season, Spencer Stastney was recalled from the AHL, and depth pieces like Kevin Gravel and Jordan Gross had some chances to play. Not to mention Jake Livingstone was signed out of college to jump in and play five games with Nashville to end the regular season.
In Trotz’s eyes, he will lean on what he saw this year but won’t think twice if he sees someone else who fits this team.
“I’m going to be really open to that,” Trotz said of adding from free agency. “To me, the whole key to where our team is is to be adding the right pieces and the right people. Not just adding a piece because it’s free-agent frenzy and it seems like the right thing. It has to be the right person and if it’s not I’m going to back away and I’m going to let a good young player grow and something will come our way.”
The new GM doesn’t want to go buying and he realizes there are over half of the NHL teams are close to the cap in terms of spending. He’ll look to take advantage of that. He sees some good assets that could be open, but it has to be the right fit with younger players coming up.
One update that has yet to be seen is knowing the intentions of defenseman Mark Borowiecki.
He dressed in four games before suffering a concussion and has not been back since. The 33-year-old is slated to meet with management and the coaching staff in the coming days.
“Unfortunately his concussion didn’t allow him to play this year, and I think we have to allow him to make his final decision because I don’t think he’s made one yet,” Poile said. “If he doesn’t want to play anymore I certainly want to talk to him. I’ve talked to Barry and John about that, he’s been around the whole time.”
Poile added that Borowiecki stayed behind with any injured skaters over the season and did rehab with them whether it was on or off the ice.
One other skater whose achilles was spared from being impacted by a more serious injury was Ryan Johansen. He took a skate to the back of his right leg as Quinn Hughes clipped him as he was falling down back on Feb. 21.
“It hit me on the side so it wasn’t near the back,” Johansen said. “I didn’t think it was achilles at first. I knew nothing at the time. I was thinking I got a little slice and I could get stitched up and get back out there. Found out that it got a couple of tendons.”
He hopes to be out of his boot in a few weeks as he wrapped up sharing his injury update.
On the other end of the spectrum, Trotz has an expectation of the centerman who has reached 60 points twice in the last five seasons.
"“Joey is going to have to have his best summer,” Trotz said. “The league is getting quicker and Joey is a skillful player he’s got size, is good on faceoffs, and has lots of things to offer, but the game is getting quicker and that’s not one of his strengths. How do you get that half-second back?”"
Right now Johansen is chasing the moving train and he can catch it according to Trotz. His performance at training camp will dictate his role with where he plays and the evolution of the team all has an influence on Johansen’s position as a Predator.