After a preseason and training camp full of growth and learning of a new system led by Head Coach Andrew Brunette, the Nashville Predators now have their initial roster in place.
The Predators have cut the roster down to the maximum 23 players, after re-assigning Marc Del Gaizo to the Milwaukee Admirals and on a surprising note, waiving Denis Gurianov.
Nashville Predators Have their Final Roster Set for Opener vs. Bolts
Gurianov was just picked up as a free agent this past offseason, but wasn’t able to make a positive impression enough to make the Predators roster. A major setback for Gurianov, and if he’s unclaimed by another NHL team, could end up heading overseas to continue his hockey career.
Waiving Gurianov paves the way for Cole Smith and Michael McCarron to make the Predators roster, which was up for debate. They will stick around, at least for now. The risk would’ve been that either one of them would be claimed on waivers, whereas now they could each end up being part of a trade package down the road.
Del Gaizo was a great story to watch throughout training camp making it to the end, while other defensemen prospects who have NHL experience were re-assigned sooner, like Spencer Stastney, Jake Livingstone and Jordan Gross.
As expected, this means that Jeremy Lauzon, Alexandre Carrier and Dante Fabbro will all be in the mix to round out the Predators defensive corps. Who starts on the third pairing against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday is still unknown.
The Predators exit the preseason with just one win, a resounding 5-1 victory over the Hurricanes with almost all of their starters in, while Carolina played mostly prospects and players on tryouts.
The following matchup with the Hurricanes in the preseason finale didn’t go quite as planned. In what the Hurricanes brass called their “dress rehearsal”, the Predators were a bit exposed against the more experienced Hurricanes who are pegged by many as one of the top Stanley Cup favorites, including Money Puck’s first playoff odds:
The Predators did show gradual improvement in running their offense throughout the preseason. Six preseason games is simply not enough time to work everything out, and the trial and error phase will move into the regular season.
The Lightning, although not the same Lightning team that went to three straight Stanley Cup finals, are still a team loaded with elite superstars at the top of their lineup. The Predators will need to win the special teams battle and lean on their penalty kill that was top-10 in 2022-23.
The injury news to Andre Vasilevskiy does balance the scales in this matchup, and Juuse Saros is more than capable of stealing this game on his own for the Predators. I suspect that the Predators will give up 30 to 40 shots on net, and Saros will have to be sharp.
Additionally, the Predators will need to push the pace and put pressure on the Lightning defenders. Where the Predators can tilt it in their favor is with their depth. Can they get some sustained offense from their bottom six?
Regular season openers are always toss ups. It’ll be a great test right out of the gate for the new look Nashville Predators.