As only the second General Manager in Nashville Predators history, Barry Trotz enters an offseason with an interesting question of whether to be aggressive or to play the more patient approach.
For a combination of unlucky injuries in the second half of the season and a major selloff at the trade deadline, the Predators failed to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2014. Even so, they fell just short and showed a lot of promise for the future with their younger core of players.
This leaves Trotz, who has 13 draft picks in his back pocket for the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, with having to figure out how he wants to change this roster in the offseason, if at all.
Nashville Predators Already have a Full Roster for 2023-24
Unlike several other teams, the Nashville Predators aren’t really in the boat of not knowing how their roster is going to shape up. They have just one unrestricted free agent who played a game in 2022-23 and that’s Zach Sanford.
Assuming Glass and Carrier are retained, Trotz can come to the decision to take the patient approach and ride forward into 2023-24 with what he already has. Essentially sit out of the free agency market and let the young players develop even more without adding anymore veterans into the mix to take away minutes.
On the flip side, Trotz might decide that he wants this team to be highly-competitive in his first season as general manager and pull off a trade or two and add a free agent. That would almost certainly mean shaking up the youth, and maybe even trading one away.
Ryan Johansen could really shake things up if Trotz were to be able to pull off a trade and free up roster space. If he could somehow pull that off, he should absolutely not hesitate.
If Trotz decides to not mess with the current roster, with the exception of probably losing Sanford, then we’ll likely see a very similar starting lineup to what we saw down the stretch of last season. But you will also have some injured veterans re-joining the mix, most notably Filip Forsberg and Roman Josi.
Trotz should be Cautious this Offseason, Trust his Current Roster
Perhaps Trotz takes a low-risk flyer on a free agent, but aside from that, he’s probably best suited to move into 2023-24 with what he already has after he gets Carrier and Glass re-signed.
The forward core, with Forsberg back in the mix, look mostly set in place.
Projected Starting Forward Lines for 2023-24
Forsberg- Glass- Duchene
Parssinen- Novak- Evangelista
Trenin- Johansen- Tomasino
Smith- Sissons- Sherwood
Johansen returning to the mix makes it hard to find room for Mark Jankowski, who naturally plays center and played some commendable minutes. Another reason why Johansen is very much expendable at this point.
Obviously a rough sketch and things will obviously change, but that’s my early outlook on a starting lineup sitting here in late May of the Predators offseason. Is that good enough for Trotz to avoid not taking too many risks? I’m not sold.
This is why Trotz has an interesting dilemma to decide on. Outgoing General Manager David Poile is still in a consulting role, so I can only imagine behind closed doors what they’re discussing about their offseason plans.
Unless a juicy trade presents itself, most notably with Johansen, then Trotz needs to tread lightly. You don’t want to tie up money into a recycled and aging free agent that’s not going to move the needle much and subsequently takes away minutes from your growing roster.
Next season is likely going to be a trial run type of year for Trotz and the much younger Nashville Predators. There will be growing pains, and it’s very likely they miss the postseason again. But these things take time, and while I don’t believe the Predators are heading into a long rebuild, they are certainly still a ways away from competing for deep playoff runs.
Let it grow. Think long-term plans. This team can still be very exciting in 2023-24 and win a lot of games with Juuse Saros in net, a formidable defensive core, and a blend of veterans and youth.
A new head coach seems to be inevitable as well. John Hynes doesn’t appear to be in the plans past this offseason, so Trotz will likely have a head coaching search to deal with. My thought is he’s waiting for the AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals to finish their postseason run in the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Should make for another busy offseason for the Nashville Predators as they prep to host the 2023 NHL Entry Draft at the end of June.