Examining the Nashville Predators Offseason: Too Much or Not Enough?

Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators attends the 2023 NHL Draft at the Bridgestone Arena on June 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Barry Trotz of the Nashville Predators attends the 2023 NHL Draft at the Bridgestone Arena on June 28, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

It’s going to be a question in hindsight all season for the Nashville Predators as the major waves of the offseason are past us, and we begin to look towards expectations for 2023-24.

Did the Nashville Predators do too much this offseason, not enough or did they do a cunning job of avoiding a rebuild altogether and remaining playoff competitive?

Truth is, the Nashville Predators are an extremely difficult team to figure out both for outsiders who don’t follow the team regularly, but also even for the closest observers of the team.

Going back to the March trade deadline, approaching a five-month timespan, the Predators have gone through seismic changes from the minor league roster, the NHL roster, coaching staff and all the way up to the front office with new General Manager Barry Trotz.

Instead of the word “rebuild”, the more apt term to use for the Nashville Predators is “reset”. Just like you turn off the laptop when it’s running slow and give it a fresh reboot, that seems to be the same hopeful approach from Trotz for the Nashville Predators.

Let’s try to answer this question without the benefit of hindsight.

The Nashville Predators Took a Bold, but Risky Approach to the Offseason

I’ll never fault a front office for being aggressive in retooling their team to stay competitive, but at the same time you don’t want to see reckless decisions that can further bury the franchise into oblivion down the road.

For the sake of what Trotz has done this offseason, I don’t think that’s the case. Mainly being that Trotz didn’t take anything super long-term. Nothing longer than the four years given to Ryan O’Reilly at a rather modest AAV of $4.5M for the former Conn Smythe winner of 2019.

Trotz did take in free agency three 30-plus year old players with O’Reilly, Luke Schenn and Gustav Nyquist. Admittedly not crazy about that trend, and it could most definitely come back to putting the Predators back in the same situation of aging players and no playoff success.

While it does hinder the preceding youth movement, it doesn’t completely end it. The youth core of the team is still very much going to be a major part of how successful or not this team is in 2023-24.

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As of the tail end of 2022-23, the Nashville Predators had the 12th-youngest roster in the NHL. With the additions of O’Reilly, Schenn and Nyquist currently has the Predators as the 14th-youngest team in the NHL, per Elite Prospects.

This all to say that Trotz has kept this team as a blend of both young, raw talent while also having experienced veterans to lead the way. That can turn out to be not only a playoff caliber team, but hopefully a little success once they get in.

The major risk lies with hampered development for your most vital young talent because the veterans take away playing time. If this team further regresses in 2023-24 and the free agency signings play average at best without really moving needle, it’s going to look really bad on Trotz’s first offseason as GM.

Front Office Quickly Pushed Reset, Did Just Enough to Flip the Roster

Sure, this team probably could’ve taken the safer approach of retaining a lot of cap space and dealing with the repercussions of having a very inexperienced team. Forged ahead knowing that 2023-24 wasn’t going to be their year and just let the young kids grow.

That’s just not how Trotz saw it. He saw an opportunity to make some key additions and keep this team in the thick of things in a crowded and murky Central Division, while knowing he still has a Vezina Trophy caliber goalie in Juuse Saros, the former Norris Trophy winner in Roman Josi, and the franchise’s all-time leading goal scorer in Filip Forsberg.

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It wasn’t a full teardown job despite how the 2023 trade deadline felt. And your future is still going to be featured in this starting lineup, mainly in the forward corps with Cody Glass, Tommy Novak and Luke Evangelista. Just to name a few.

The Stanley Cup window has been slammed shut probably since the 2019 first round loss to the Dallas Stars, but it can also be creaked back open if everything aligns. The pieces are there to sneak into the playoffs again and see what happens.

Furthermore, I think it would’ve been unrealistic to expect Trotz as a new GM with a new head coach in Andrew Brunette coming in to just sit idly and not make moves with so much cap space.

I know fans hate hearing that and are exhausted from having a mid-level team that lives on the playoff bubble, but just ask the Florida Panthers how fast that can change.

Heck, just ask members of the 2016-2017 Nashville Predators. Start with Pekka Rinne.