Four burning questions for the 2022 offseason
So how much change can we expect in the Nashville Predators roster once we get through the offseason and get into the 2022-23 season?
We’re talking about a Nashville Predators team that has consistently fallen short of playoff expectations for the past five years. Despite overperforming in the regular season, the frustration of not succeeding in the playoffs plagues this organization.
Watching the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs and the plethora of offensive skills and talents made it clear that the Predators still have a long way to go before competing with the creme de la creme, like the Colorado Avalanche and the Lightning. from Tampa Bay.
That being said, the Nashville Predators have an opportunity over the next two months to significantly improve this roster and build on the success they’ve had in the regular season, as there’s no denying they’ve topped what many thought they would do in October 2021.
Question #1: How will the Nashville Predators approach the Free Agency?
Will Predators general manager David Poile decide to be aggressive in free agency and seek out a high-end offensive player to complement what he already has?
As great as it was to see offensive career years from Matt Duchene, Philippe Forsberg, Romain Josi and even Ryan Johansenit’s clearly not enough to go further in the playoffs and beat teams like Tampa, Colorado, Edmonton and a few others.
If the end goal is still to compete for a Stanley Cup, then Poile has his work cut out for him this summer. But alas, the free agency market gives the front office a chance to make a major upgrade with just one pen signing on a shiny new contract.
Predlines contributor Clayton Garnier covered his list of the top five free agents the Predators can possibly pursue, and it piqued my interest.
off his list, Ondrej Palat would probably be the biggest splash. A proven veteran who has become a consistent 40+ point scorer, but the downside is he’s heading towards the end of his career at 30. It will also be very expensive and prevent the front office from making any more additions, assuming they also re-sign Forsberg.
The Predators will have the funds to make a major upgrade to their top six from the outside, but it doesn’t come without risk and takes away a spot from a young player you might want up there. Tough call for Poile.
Question #2: Which prospects will have a new opportunity in the NHL in 22-23′?
Last season we could see Philippe Tomasino made his much-anticipated NHL debut, and he stayed all season playing 76 games and three playoff games.
Tomasino, in a minor role for much of the year with around 11:30 of average ice time, delivered promising results with 32 points, and a very impressive Corsi-for of 54.5% in all situations. .
So who’s the next young player to step into the Predators’ daily roster and stick around? Cody glass is the most likely next man after working a full season in the AHL and playing extremely well for a strong Milwaukee Admirals team.
Glass should be expected to be in the starting lineup on next season’s opening night and hopefully can have a moderate impact on the scoring depth that this team lacks.
Other than those two obvious things, the Predators don’t have much room for newcomers to join the prospect ranks. Unless we see some trades or the Predators do surprisingly nothing in free agency, it might be hard to see any prospects entering the NHL roster unless a wave of injuries occurs.
Question #3: What’s plan B if Forsberg doesn’t re-sign?
You need to plan for the worst case now if you’re Poile and Forsberg doesn’t re-sign. First, it will result in a major misstep by Poile if he loses Forsberg without getting anything in return, who is on the table as an unrestricted free agent.
I have to think Poile has gauged Forsberg’s desire to stay long-term in Nashville and that he’ll get a deal done eventually. But boy oh boy are we playing with fire here.
So what is ‘Plan B’ if Forsberg takes his talents elsewhere? Well, a reconstruction is suddenly a reality.
Even if the Predators have extra money to spend aggressively on free agents and sign a big player or two to replace Forsberg, it would still be a blow to hopes for improvement next season.
According to CapFriendly, the Nashville Predators have the ninth most projected cap space entering in June with approximately $24.4 million of space. So if Poile wants to be aggressive, he can definitely do that.
However, my backup plan for the Predators if Forsberg does not return is to sign promising young players in free agency, avoid expensive and aging veterans who could make matters worse, and live with the fact that it is time. to push the reset and think about building a strong, youthful foundation.
Some would say they should have taken that approach in the 2019 first-round loss to the Dallas Stars. Either way, losing Forsberg will leave Poile with very little room to do anything other than accept a rebuild.
Question #4: Do we trust that Johansen and Duchene are now long-term answers?
Let’s start with Duchene and his extremely impressive season. His most productive season of his 13-year NHL career, which is pretty incredible at 31.
So are we ready to trust Duchene and forgive the $8M contract Poile offered him in the summer of 2019? I mean yes, but I still have my reservations that last season will create unrealistic optimism that he will do it again.
That’s not to say Duchene won’t have another solid year and won’t be an important part of this team for years to come, but let’s also temper expectations that he’ll rack up another 80 points in 2022-23.
As for Johansen, he flew under the radar a bit while still managing to set a new personal goalscoring record while with the Predators. He scored 26 goals, which is his second-highest in his NHL career since 2014-15.
Johansen is a major x-factor for what the Predators accomplish going forward and whether they continue to avoid rebuilding to keep their playoff streak alive. But the organization must also find him more effective teammates.
I really support the idea of having Johansen and Tomasino on a line together on a cohesive basis. Their games complement each other well, and it would be very beneficial for Tomasino’s offensive growth to play with an effective puck distributor like Johansen.
Duchene and Johansen aren’t going anywhere unless Poile finally decides to throw in the towel on the rebuild, which he says won’t happen. In fact, he more or less said that all teams constantly rebuild to some degree.
First perspectives on next season
Until we answer the question of what’s going on with Forsberg and what the Predators are doing in free agency, it’s hard to know what this team will look like in October.
The Nashville Predators are at a distinct crossroads and Poile has the daunting task of choosing the right path.
I can see a scenario where the Predators pull out all the stops to improve on this roster and have another respectable regular season to continue their postseason streak, but until they show they can actually compete with a high-level competition in the playoffs, I will remain impressed with the success of the regular season.
Just an early prospect here on the first day of June during the offseason, the Nashville Predators will enter the regular season as a mid-pack team in many people’s eyes, but far from a legitimate threat to the best dogs in the Western Conference.