There’s too much on my mind right now to go into specifics about what I feel is becoming clearer and clearer each day: Nashville’s poor roster management has and will continue to cost them a legitimate shot at the Stanley Cup.
Think about 2017. The fluke run, the glorious run, whatever it was....really was never supposed to happen. How was a team with an aging captain and goalie and a bunch of rookies going to take on powerhouse teams like the Penguins or the Ducks? Well, they did, up until Game 6 in early June.
2017-2018 was truly the best team Nashville has ever iced. You’re talking about prime Roman Josi, Pekka Rinne, Ryan Ellis’s recovery, PK Subban’s strength pre-injury, Filip Forsberg and Viktor Arvidsson having some Swedish magic going on....it was truly a glorious time. Nashville’s management has been chasing that ever since. Did Nashville truly have the right combination of salty veterans on their Cup run? Um...Vernon Fiddler and Cody McLeod? Those guys? Evidently so, because McLeod returned to the Predators and Fisher was re-signed after retiring. Shrug. I’m sorry, I’m still not over sending a draft pick to the Rangers for McLeod.
Since then, again, Nashville’s been chasing the ghost of a team that got manhandled by Dustin Byfuglien and Mark Scheifele and Blake Wheeler. It’s time to stop chasing. It’s time to execute something that looks like a rebuild, rather than this “competitive rebuild” nonsense that keeps coming from the front office. A competitive rebuild keeps people in their seats. It keeps the lights on. It keeps people employed. I understand this, yet I’m tired of it. I’m tired of seeing a “good enough” team on the ice, wasting excellent seasons from players they literally chased for years (looking at you, Matt Duchene).
Nashville’s got some great talent in the wings. Milwaukee had a fantastic squad this year, and there’s some legitimate talent coming in from overseas and from the junior leagues. However, the learning curve for some of these guys will be steep, and despite the hype surrounding prospects like Yaroslav Askarov or Luke Evangelista, the ugly truth is that this fanbase does not have the patience to watch these talents grow and evolve. Today, I’m thinking about how great Samuel Girard would look on Nashville’s blue line. However, he’s going to be celebrating a Stanley Cup victory for quite some time. Nashville’s mismanagement of the Kyle Turris saga sticks out in my mind, but I’m also thinking about players like Kevin Fiala being traded for aging pieces.
Here’s the deal, Preds fans. Even if you agree that trades like Viktor Arvidsson’s (or any listed above) made the team better, it’s fairly clear that trading for players who are currently “good” (not excellent) has put the team in a weird, mushy middle. It’s not fun being in the middle.
This, unfortunately, brings us to Filip Forsberg. He’s the closest thing we have to a star behind Roman Josi, and he was retained at the trade deadline even without a deal in place. If Forsberg is able to find a deal in free agency that suits him, the Predators don’t have anything concrete in place...just some “backup options,” as mentioned by David Poile in a few interviews over the last few weeks. These backups aren’t even signed by the club, they’re just tossed around as theoretical plans that might not even manifest into a signing.
It’s getting to be late here, y’all. The Predators should consider looking for different voices in management who might be able to put some actionable steps in place to build up a competitive team, and the ugly truth is that the Predators are likely going to have to hang around the bottom of the League for a bit to get there.