With the season just around the corner, the Predators have their roster mostly set. While the Predators have been contending for the division title the past few years, this year will likely prove to be much more difficult.
The team is not as strong or as deep as it used to: “This year is a bit of a transition year. We have a strong pipeline of prospects coming up but in the meantime it may mean tougher years.”
Indeed, the team has traded some assets for a slew of picks in the upcoming year, leaving the team low on forwards. To patch things up a bit, the Predators have added Mathieu Perreault, David Perron, Justin Abdelkader and Radim Vrbata up front. Of those players, only one is older than 30 years old: “We were looking for players who still had a couple of good years ahead. Vrbata’s the only one at the tail end of his career but he’s only signed through the year.”
The team also picked up veterans to complete its defense. Franson and Ericsson both return to Nashville after signing with the team as free agents: “They played well for us last year and we didn’t want to rush Santini. We offered them new deals but they wanted to test the free market before re-signing. Once again, we extended Franson for a couple of years since he’s only 30 but went one year with Ericsson who’s 34.” The signings completed a behemoth backline where the average player stands 6’4”.
Between the pipes, the Predators were unable to settle with Cam Talbot: “He wanted around $6M for 4 years and that was just too much for us. Instead, we signed Mike Smith to a 2 years deal.” Mike Smith will likely fill the gap until another good young goaltender can step up.
The Predators are set to start with the following lineup:
Perron – Schwartz – Vrbata
Abdelkader – Perreault – Iginla
Paquette – Lehtera – Girgensons
Jaskin – Janmark – Bennett
Klefbom – Ericsson
Klein – Dumoulin
Franson – Edmundson
With such a lineup, Nashville expects to be a bubble team that should get between 75 and 85 points in the standings. At the trade deadline, big decisions will have to be made: “Depending on the outlook for this year and next, the Predators may be sellers. Players like Perron, Vrbata, Perreault and Iginla could bolster some cup contending team’s lineups.”