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The OTF Staff Predicts The Preds’ Season

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We’re back with more fresh-out-of-the-oven takes that definitely won’t cool off at all this year!

Philadelphia Flyers v Nashville Predators

Yesterday’s NHL season predictions went so well, we came back for more, this time focused on the Predators. Let’s get started, and quickly, since there’s hockey tonight.

First off, we considered some potential points leaders.

The Players

Our predictions for assists leader ran the gamut from Ryan Johansen, with 50, to Ryan Johansen, with 65 (goin’ for Paul Kariya’s franchise record of 54 with a vengeance).

We saw a little more variety in predictions for goals leaders, with Rachel, Sarah, and Bryan predicting it would be Viktor Arvidsson again while almost everyone else expected Filip Forsberg to return to his old ways. Seven of the eleven writers expect the Preds to finally get their 40-goal scorer this year.

Meanwhile, Bobby would like to remind us that Matt Duchene is a person who exists and is all set to play hockey for the Nashville Predators.

The Questions

Then we pondered some existential and not-so-existential questions.

Does any Preds player win a major award this year?

Kate, Eric, Nick, Sarah, and Hayley said no.

Laura, Rachel, Tucker, Bryan, and Bobby said yes. (Tucker and Bryan specified that they think Roman Josi will win the Norris, and Bobby continued his acknowledgement of Matt Duchene’s existence by specifying that he thinks Duchene will win the Lady Byng.)

Where do you see the team finishing in the Central?

Laura: First.

Kate: Fourth, behind Colorado, Dallas, and St. Louis (probably in that order).

Rachel: Either first or second in the Central, but divisional banners are a thing of the past. Home ice is no longer relevant in the playoffs.

Ann: Hopefully second behind the Stars, but a decent chance they end up third behind Colorado.

Eric: Second.

Nick: Second behind Colorado.

Tucker: First, yet again, because they’re built to do well in the regular season.

Sarah: Third behind Colorado and Dallas, but it’s a close race with Dallas.

Bryan: Second behind Colorado, but I’m very tempted to put them third behind STL or DAL.

Bobby: First. The regular season is based on talent, and the Predators have more of it than any other team in the division.

Hayley: First.

How far do you see the Preds advancing in the playoffs (if they make it)?

Laura: All the way!

Kate: First-round ex-it (clap-clap, clap-clap-clap) unless they get their act a lot more together than it has been.

Rachel: Stanley Cup Final and Cup winner. Nashville has had too much heartbreak in the playoffs. We have playoff scars and trauma. Nashville has more than enough talent on the roster to make a deep run. This year is the year.

Ann: With a little tune up they have the crew to go far...perhaps even all the way. The depth is there in every position. They just need solid line chemistry, some lucky puck bounces, no major injuries, and they could do it this year. Oh please, let this be our year!

Eric: Conference Finals.

Nick: Second round...with both series going seven games. You look at all the frustrating things from last year (the injuries, the AWFUL power play, etc.), and somehow...this team still finished first in the Central. That tells me there’s a lot of guys who knows what it takes to win. That being said, the division’s a beast, and I think there’s one team who winds up being one goal better in the final game.

Tucker: They’re going to win the Cup in six games over Toronto. Remember this prediction... Unless I’m horribly off-base. Then promptly forget it. I won’t be held accountable for this.

Sarah: Second round. I think the Preds’ offense improves top to bottom from 2018-2019, but the defense takes a major step back. Josi can’t do it all alone. Preds lose in the second round in 7 games. First round also goes to 7 games. The addition of Duchene improves the power play, but the PK stays roughly the same.

Bryan: Second round—third if they can hold off facing Vegas until then. Then they get exposed badly.

Bobby: The Predators will fall to the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. Akin to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Predators are loaded with talent, but void of mental fortitude. Unless there’s been some major growth in some players’ leadership abilities, they are primed to falter when the going gets tough.

Hayley: All the way. If I keep speaking it into existence eventually it has to happen, right?

[Maybe someone needs to pop a newborn into the Stanley Cup? It has to be less than an hour old, though, otherwise the magic wears off.]

Which player is going to be the biggest surprise for the Preds? Good or bad?

Laura: Mikael Granlund will hit 60 points.

Ann: Kyle Turris. Is he going to be the points leader? No. Is he going to show the naysayers that he is an important part of the team’s success? Man, I hope so. I think he will silence his critics with a solid year and bring life to a third line. I am also saving up my pennies to buy a Pitlick jersey. I suspect Rem Pitlick will delight Preds fans.

Eric: I would say Turris, but it shouldn’t be a surprise ’cause he’s good and we knew that. I’ll go with Daniel Carr or Rem Pitlick.

Nick: Colton Sissons. There’s going to be some line-shuffling one way or another, and I think Ol’ Snossis is the beneficiary of the third line getting some more offensive punch. He’s not going to lead the team in scoring, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s a 20-goal scorer this season.

Tucker: Mikael Granlund is going to look like a bonafide stud this year.

Sarah: Kyle Turris is going to have a bounceback year after a disappointing 2018-19 showing with the Preds and he will finish top 5 on the team in points. Ryan Johansen will also have his best season of his career this season with his highest points total to date and reach 20 goals for the first time since the 2014-15 season when he was still in Columbus. He’s always been a steady player but he’s due for a superstar season. Duchene will help push Joey to be the player we all know he can be.

Bryan: Neither are real surprises, but Granland is going to put up Johansen-like assist numbers. On the other side, Grimaldi is going to find himself on the healthy scratch list more and more as the season goes on.

Bobby: Granlund is going to nearly lead the Predators in scoring, but that shouldn’t be a surprise. Two seasons ago he would have led the Predators. Last season he had a rough adjustment, getting traded mid-season while his fiancée was literally in the middle of labor. After a summer and getting a chance to settle down, he’ll return to being a force.

Hayley: It’s a toss-up between Kyle Turris and Mikael Granlund. Both are coming off a not-so-stellar season, so the pressure is on, and they’ll have to deliver.

What’s the trade you’d most like to see?

Laura: Package up a couple of the bottom six for picks and call up some younguns.

Kate: Realistically, Bonino for picks and/or prospects. If we’re talking the trade I’d actually most like to see and which doesn’t involve an undo button, it probably ends up with Victor Hedman or Gabriel Landeskog in gold.

Rachel: Nick Bonino to literally anyone for a 2020 1st and 3rd.

Eric: Jettison like all of the bottom-six.

Nick: Matt Irwin to Edmonton for Connor McDavid and the rights to build a Tim Horton’s in Bellevue.

Tucker: Austin Watson, Freddie Gaudreau, and Miikka Salomäki for an assortment of middle-round picks and a few gift cards to Outback Steakhouse.

Sarah: Austin Watson for whatever draft picks you can get for him. Bonino for draft picks (no, really guys, Preds need to rebuild the farm system).

Bryan: I think a team looking to push themselves over the top trades for Craig Smith and extends him, and Nashville gets prospects/picks. I cry, but it’s necessary.

Bobby: The farm system outside of Pitlick, Tomasino, and Tolvanen is pretty terrible. If I’m David Poile and any of the members on the Predators’ fourth line start the season hot, I’m shipping them out as soon as possible to get the maximum return.

Hayley: No one? I think the current roster needs to find a groove before they start moving guys around again.

What do you think the ratio of starts for the goalies (if they’re healthy) will be? Should be?

Laura: Pekka 52, Juuse 30. I also think Juuse should get some planned (maybe game 3) starts in the playoffs. I don’t think we can ride Pekka potentially 28 games every other night.

Kate: I’d like to see Saros take at least half the starts this year if he can.

Rachel: At least a 50-50 split for Rinne and Saros. Let Little Bear have the first game of a back-to-back more than once, as well.

Ann: I’m all about Pekks in net, but when you have Saros, there is no good reason not to share starts and keep both in top form for the long haul. I wouldn’t cry if it were 50/50.

Eric: 47 - Rinne; 35 - Saros.

Nick: Pekka gets the 60%/40% split with Saros.

Tucker: The split will start 65-35 Pekka, but slowly creep its way to 50-50 through the season, leaving Laviolette with quite the decision to make come playoff time.

Sarah: Pekka is still Pekka even though Saros is clearly a capable goalie and ready for a 50-50 share, so Laviolette begins the season with a 70-30 split, but by the end of the season its 60-40.

Bryan: 50 Rinne, 32 Saros.

Bobby: I think we see a similar ratio to last season, but you can’t answer this question until we see the playoff picture at the beginning of March. If the Predators are in a comfortable spot, then Saros could have 35 starts. If not, maybe he’ll only have 27 again.

Hayley: Pekka will still carry the brunt of the season, because that’s who he is, but Juuse should see a larger number of starts this season.

What do you think the regular lineup (if everyone is healthy) should look like?

Laura:

Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson
Granlund - Duchene - Smith
Järnkrok - Turris - Carr|Grimaldi
Sissons - Bonino - Watson|Salomäki

Josi - Ellis
Ekholm - Fabbro
Hamhuis - Weber or Irwin.

Kate:

Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson
Granlund - Duchene - Smith
Tolvanen - Turris - Pitlick, or at least give it a shot
Carr - Sissons - Järnkrok

Ekholm - Ellis
Josi - Fabbro
Davies - Allard

Rachel:

Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson
Granlund - Duchene - Smith
Pitlick - Turris - Sissons
Carr - Bonino - Järnkrok

Ekholm - Ellis
Josi - Fabbro
Hamhuis - Davies

Eric:

Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson
Granlund - Duchene - Smith
Sissons - Turris - Pitlick
Järnkrok|Watson - Bonino - Carr

Josi - Fabbro
Ekholm - Ellis
Hamhuis - Weber

Nick:

Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson
Granlund - Duchene - Turris (boom)
Carr - Sissons - Smith
Järnkrok|Grimaldi - Bonino - Watson

Josi - Fabbro
Ekholm - Ellis
Hamhuis - Weber (to start)

Tucker:

Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson
Granlund - Duchene - Contract Year Smith
Grimaldi - Turris - Sissons
Watson|Carr - Bonino - Järnkrok

Ekholm - Ellis
Josi - Fabbro
Hamhuis - Weber

Sarah:

Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson (don’t mess with a good thing, y’all!)
Granlund - Duchene - Turris
Pitlick|Järnkrok - Sissons - Smith
Grimaldi|Järnkrok - Bonino - Watson

Josi - Ellis
Ekholm - Fabbro
Hamhuis - Weber

Bryan:

Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson
Granlund - Duchene - Smith
Carr - Turris - Sissons
Pitlick - Bonino - Järnkrok

Josi - Fabbro
Ekholm - Ellis
Hamhuis - Davies

Bobby:

Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson
Granlund - Duchene - Smith
Pitlick - Turris - Tolvanen
Järnkrok - Bonino - Sissons

Ekholm - Ellis
Josi - Fabbro
Hamhuis - Weber

Hayley:

Forsberg - Johansen - Arvidsson
Granlund - Duchene - Smith
Carr - Turris - Sissons
Grimaldi - Bonino - Järnkrok

Josi - Fabbro
Ekholm - Ellis
Hamhuis - Weber


As you can see, the staff is almost unanimous in a wish to see Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis reunited on the blueline, and it looks like yet again we’re not going to get that.

Weigh in, yell at Kate for being a pessimist again, whatever. What do you think this season will look like for the Preds?

[Due to a data collection error, an earlier version of this story inadvertently credited Tucker’s input to Shaun.]