What’s subsequent for Predators after offseason modifications?


The Nashville Predators stated goodbye to 2 outstanding gamers this offseason after they traded defenseman Ryan Ellis to the Philadelphia Flyers in a three-team deal, and likewise despatched ahead Viktor Arvidsson to the Los Angeles Kings.

Their return in all of these trades is Cody Glass, Philippe Myers, some draft picks, and loads of wage cap house that, so far, has gone unused aside from to re-sign a few returning gamers (beginning goalie Juuse Saros and ahead Mikael Granlund).

So what does this imply for what the Predators entrance workplace thinks of this present group and its present long-and short-term potential?

Earlier this offseason the phrases “aggressive rebuild” have been talked about by basic supervisor David Poile, and that’s one thing that ought to often give followers a wholesome dose of worry. Aggressive rebuilds don’t are likely to work out as you envision them to work. The concept, in principle, is sensible. You restock the cabinet for the long run, you accumulate long-term belongings you may construct round, however you don’t completely sacrifice the current and a minimum of attempt to make the playoffs.

[Related: Every free agent signing by all 32 NHL teams]

The fact is that “aggressive rebuilds” are likely to lead to a good longer rebuild and much more down years since you are by no means truly adequate to make the playoffs and by no means unhealthy sufficient to complete with one of the best lottery odds to get that franchise-changing celebrity on the prime of the draft. Sooner or later a crew has to choose a route: Are you competing or are you rebuilding?

The very fact the Predators did decide to get youthful and commerce two important gamers — and Ellis is the stunning commerce right here — is a fairly good signal that the Predators have an concept of what their crew is. This group hit its peak in 2017 and 2018 with a Stanley Cup Last look that was adopted by the franchise’s first Presidents’ Trophy. However it has been a gradual, gradual decline within the couple of years since then. Issues appeared so bleak on the midway level of the 2020-21 season that it appeared like a crew that was on the verge of an entire teardown and full rebuild.

It was not till Saros turned himself into an unbeatable brick wall and carried the crew to a playoff spot that issues began to show round for the Predators. Whereas he’s definitely able to taking part in at that stage persistently, it’s by no means good when a crew’s plan has to revolve round a goalie stealing video games on a regular basis. Each particular groups items have been awful for a few years now, they lack purpose scorers, and their most costly gamers haven’t performed to their contracts. The character of their offseason strategy appears to point the Predators are a minimum of conscious of that.

So what do the Predators want for this “aggressive rebuild” to work?

For starters, Saros must play like a top-tier goalie. Particularly with Ellis not being a big a part of their protection. With out that, there actually isn’t a lot of an opportunity for the “aggressive” a part of the equation.

[Related: Will Hurricanes’ goalie changes pay off?]

A wholesome Filip Forsberg (solely 39 video games this previous season) can be a necessity as a result of he’s the one large cash ahead on the crew that has not been a serious disappointment the previous couple of years. You could possibly additionally add bounce again years from Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene to this equation, however I’m not positive anyone has a lot confidence in both growth at this level. A minimum of not for each of them.

The true X-factor although would be the growth of Eeli Tolvanen and Glass. The Predators do not need an particularly deep farm system, however these are the 2 younger gamers that a minimum of have the potential to be distinction makers. Nashville has been ready for Tolvanen for what looks like an eternity at this level (it has solely been a number of years) and he confirmed some flashes of that potential throughout his first full season. He scored at a 20-goal tempo over 82 video games and was an element on the facility play.

Glass, in the meantime, was one of many key components of the return to the Ellis commerce and has proven flashes of being NHL participant. They’re each 22 years outdated and are most likely at some extent of their careers the place they should take a big step ahead if they’ll be affect gamers.

Lastly, what are they going to do with all of that unused wage cap house? Not each crew goes to spend to the cap — and never each crew can proper now — however being $12 million beneath the cap is loads of out there cash. Tolvanen nonetheless wants re-signed this offseason, whereas Forsberg and Ekholm are each unrestricted free brokers after this season. Even with that, there may be nonetheless a window there so as to add someone in case your purpose is to stay aggressive.

The issue with that is the extra “ifs” you’ve got for a crew to achieve success the extra possible it’s that a few of these should not going to go the best way you need. Not all the things goes completely. So it appears possible that the Predators are destined for an additional season the place they continue to be on the fringes of the NHL’s playoff race, particularly given the subtractions from the 2020-21 roster that already had its share of flaws. That appears to be the outlook for a minimum of the foreseeable future till they actually must resolve if they’re rebuilding or are going to be aggressive.

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Adam Gretz is a author for Professional Hockey Speak on NBC Sports activities. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or observe him on Twitter @AGretz.

What’s subsequent for Predators after offseason modifications? initially appeared on NBCSports.com

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