With the season starting tomorrow, the Predators will try to make the playoffs like in 2008-2009. This time however, they want to give a better opposition and keep off the golf courses for a bit longer.
The Nashville Predators still have in mind the last minute playoff push from last year, which ended in a quick playoff elimination.
"This year, we not only want to make the playoffs, but we want to get there without being totally exhausted like last year." said a calm Jarome Iginla after today's practice.
The team GM, Sylvain Tremblay, spoke of the upcoming season with confidence: "I like all the changes we've made to the team during the course of the summer. We added new skilled figures and this year we won't have to rely solely on Jarome to win games."
It has been a busy summer in Nashville with a few key players becoming UFAs, like Iginla and Ohlund. The GM had as a mission to keep Iginla in town, to replace Ohlund and then to add scoring help up front.
At the draft, the team made a splash by trading Pascal Leclaire, a good young goaltender, for a first round pick. GM Sylvain Tremblay explains why the team had to trade Leclaire: "His contract handcuffed the team's actions for the upcoming UFAs. Since the Predators were in need of a few key acquisitions, trading Leclaire to add future depth to the team made a lot of sense."
Another move that was made before the draft was to trade Paul Karyia for Derek Morris, picks and a prospect named Louie Caporusso. Asked about the trade, GM Tremblay explained: "We needed a defenseman that could log big minutes in all kind of situations with the departure of Ohlund. We figured it would be easier to replace Karyia through free agents than Ohlund, so we pulled the trigger on the trade."
These two trades paved the way to the free agency period. The team signed Sergei Fedorov, Daymond Langkow, Steve Sullivan, Tom Poti, Mathieu Dandenault and Cristobal Huet to NEFHL contracts and they resigned RFA Patrick Sharp. As well, the team acquired a few defensemen to bolster the blue line in Mark Giordano, Milan Jurcina and Jeff Woywitka.
Asked to compare this year's edition of the Predators to the club they iced last year, GM Tremblay quickly answered: "We replaced the three key guys that left in Leclaire, Ohlund and Karyia. The new faces aboard in Huet, Morris, Sullivan, Fedorov and Langkow will make up for our losses and more."
After winning the preseason, the Predators are looking to be inside the playoffs at a better position than last year's 8th place in their conference. This season should prove exciting for Nashville fans.