While it’s probably difficult to see the positives from this season after being swept in four games by a likely Stanley Cup Finalist, there’s plenty of good out of this season. However, there’s no resting on your laurels when you haven’t won a playoff series since 2019. I’m not suggesting here that a “do nothing” approach is correct, and I’m also not suggesting a “scorched Earth” process involving a fire sale of our talented team and all supporting staff.
What happens this offseason should be measured, carefully assessed, and beneficial for a rebuilding team. That’s where Nashville is - a rebuild.
Rebuilds focus on key pieces, such as trophy-winning captains and stellar goaltenders. Rebuilds stack up young, exciting talent to play with savvy, skilled veterans. Rebuilds might also involve moving on from the only general manager Nashville has known. Rebuilds should certainly assess coaching staff, too.
What could this offseason look like? I’ve identified a few key checklist items that absolutely must be handled this summer. While some might only have a few sentences, that’s because there’s a lot of unknowns and question marks with the Predators. This list isn’t exhaustive.
Be sure to sound off below about these topics and let us know what you’d like to see Nashville do in the offseason.
Poile is confusing to many of us. It’s 100% true that this team would not be what it is without Poile’s leadership. However, it’s 2022...and his actions (or lack thereof) are starting to make many fans question the way forward.
Does he stay? Likely. However, as our friend Adam Vingan wrote in The Athletic earlier this week, ownership can no longer stay silent on Nashville’s direction as a NHL franchise. The mushy middle does not win Cups.
Like Poile, it’s clear that without Hynes, the Predators would not be in the position they’re in. That’s a good thing or a bad thing...it depends who you ask. Hynes might not be the long-term solution for this team. Perhaps he is best suited to bridge the Laviolette era to a new era. Personally, I don’t believe Hynes is the way forward for Nashville.
As mentioned above, the franchise’s vision and direction will dictate the pace of next year’s Predators - will they rebuild? Or will they continue to compete? Is John Hynes the coach to lead Nashville through whatever is next?
Forsberg needs a contract. I think nearly all of us would prefer that to be with Nashville.
It’s easy - get the guy locked up. Poile can no longer trade him, so it’s largely up to the Preds’ front office to get pen to paper. Forsberg has earned the right to test the market, and he certainly will do so. However, if the player wants to stay in Nashville and the Predators are willing to sign a big deal, let’s lock him up. You don’t rebuild teams without savvy veterans, and Forsberg is one of those veterans who will retain his scoring touch for years.
Ingram had a taste of the NHL this season. He was, unfortunately, destroyed by the powerhouse Avalanche, but he put up a fight and made a bit of a name for himself.
Next season, Ingram is Juuse Saros’s backup. That “backup” role needs to actually function as a backup...give Saros a little more rest. Ingram has the potential to be a very serviceable NHL netminder, and a season as a quality backup will only increase his stock.
I’ll have more on Connor Ingram later this summer. Right now, he’s back to starting for the Milwaukee Admirals in the First Round of the AHL’s Calder Cup Playoffs.
The balanced scoring that Nashville boasted several seasons ago was replaced this season by career years from Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, and Tanner Jeannot. While Yakov Trenin was a nice surprise, I was disappointed in Luke Kunin and Eeli Tolvanen this season.
Kunin doesn’t seem to really fit with the Predators, but they’ll have to qualify him this summer or see him test free agency. Could they re-sign Kunin and use him as part of a trade package?
Aside from Roman Josi, we didn’t see too many goals from the blue line this season. In 2021-2022, scoring in the NHL jumped ridiculously - I don’t have the appropriate statistics to explain that fully, but it’s clear that scoring is up across the league. Scoring on the rush needs to be an area of focus for the Predators this season. Whether that’s addressed through players, personnel changes, or coaching tactics, it’s an absolute necessity.