How Should the Nashville Predators Build their New Power Play Units?

Cody Glass #8 of the Nashville Predators skates with the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at United Center on December 21, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Cody Glass #8 of the Nashville Predators skates with the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at United Center on December 21, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

All we hear about for the Nashville Predators is they’re a retooled team with some rejuvenated energy to make a swift return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2024.

The Predators missed the postseason for the first time since 2014, which coincidentally enough was now General Manager Barry Trotz’s last season as head coach of Nashville.

A glaring reason why the Predators fell just short of the postseason was due to a lackluster power play that finished 27th in the NHL, but there are a few contributing factors as to why it plummeted to that position after being sixth in the NHL just the year before.

Four of the last five years the Predators have been one of the NHL’s bottom feeder teams at taking advantage on the power play. This has to be remedied with Head Coach Andrew Brunette taking over.

What Caused Such a Dramatic Decline for Nashville Predators Power Play?

To be completely blunt, the John Hynes system became stale and predictable. Many times the Predators while on the power play looked like the team that was down a player. Opposing penalty kill units just waited for the boring Predators to skate right into their trap.

As the season wore on, it became painfully clear that the offensive explosions from Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Roman Josi weren’t going to be of the same magnitude for two years in a row.

That should’ve been expected considering the team shooting percentage was sixth in the NHL at 10.74 percent, and then tanked to 26th with a 9.22 percentage, which doesn’t seem like all that much but is when you look at the league average.

Predators Power Play Ranks Last 5 Years

2022-23: 27th (17.6%)

2021-22: 6th (24.4%)

2020-21: 23rd (17.6%)

2019-20: 25th (17.3%)

2018-19: 31st (12.9%)

Bloating shooting percentages from star players like Forsberg with 18.6, Duchene with 18.9 and Ryan Johansen with 22 to lead the team told us this was going to come crashing back down to the law of averages, And all at once, unfortunately.

Finally, all of the trades and injuries shook up the core of the team and forced new chemistry to be build on the fly late in the season. Youth and inexperience had to grow up fast.

Even with that, look at the promise the newcomers showed on the power play. Cody Glass registered six power play goals, Thomas Novak has five power play goals, and Philip Tomasino tacked on four goals with the man advantage.

In the end, it was hard to find cohesion so late down the stretch. There was definitely some mild progress being made, and it could’ve finished off much better if Forsberg and Josi don’t go down with season ending injuries.

How Will a Revamped Predators Power Play Look in 2023-24?

Let’s start with the top unit and the obvious choices first; Forsberg and Josi will undoubtedly be on the top unit once again. They’re your two biggest power play weapons, and now you have to match them up with the proper linemates.

This is where you have to inject the youth, and this needs to be a major point of emphasis in training camp. Getting Luke Evangelista acclimated on the power play with Josi and Forsberg. This trio can do serious damage together if all on the same page.

Trending. Predators 2023 Training Camp Spotlight: Luke Evangelista. light

Going into his third NHL season, Tomasino should get a hard look at getting initial top power play unit minutes. His smooth skating and puck skills should serve him well on the power play, and he’s got a little experience under his belt now as well.

One other choice to make for the top power play unit is Novak. Another fast riser that really seized the moment in 2022-23 and now will look to build off that.

Novak already has chemistry with Tomasino and Evangelista, and has seen time with Forsberg as well. So you’re not really having to get new players acclimated to each other too much.

The second power play unit leaves you with Tyson Barrie as your quarterback, and Glass as your puck distributor.

Ryan O’Reilly figures to get power play duty as well as the fresh face of the locker room and the primary free agency acquisition. You’re not leaving him off the power play.

The final two slots for the Nashville Predators power play is really up for grabs in training camp. Juuso Parssinen should get serious consideration on the second power play unit.

Parssinen’s net front presence and big frame could really benefit on the man advantage in the way of finding loosing pucks for easy goals and screening the goalie for shots from the point from Barrie.

Just for veteran experience and a little stability early on, I’d go with Gustav Nyquist for my final choice to round out the Predators two power play units.

Predicting Nashville Predators Power Play Units for 2023-24

Top Unit: Josi/Forsberg/Novak/Evangelista/Tomasino

Second Unit: Barrie/O’Reilly/Glass/Parssinen/Nyquist

With this lineup, Evangelista, Tomasino and Novak can all end up breaking out offensively. Tomasino could go for 20-plus goals, as could Novak and Evangelista.

Oh yeah, and let’s not completely overlook the fact that Phil Kessel remains an unsigned free agent this late in the offseason. If the Predators aren’t feeling super confident in their options for the power play, then Kessel will be hard to resist at least giving a professional tryout to.

Predictions for the Nashville Predators are all over the board for 2023-24. Some have their ceiling as high as third place in the division, with the wide gap between them and the Dallas Stars and Colorado Avalanche.

Others aren’t so keen on the Predators and have them as bad as sixth in the division and missing the playoffs again.

One thing is certain; if there isn’t decent improvement shown on the power play, the critics will be proven right. The Nashville Predators will miss the playoffs again due to not giving Juuse Saros adequate goal support and leaving too many goals on the table.