It's been an offseason of change for the Nashville Predators. With a new regime in town, are they worth a look on the NHL odds in terms of futures?
What Went Wrong Last Season?
Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne only played 24 games last season. As a result, the Predators were horrible in terms of goals allowed, tumbling all the way down to 23rd in the NHL.
This is a team that was predicated on defense. They were built to get a lead and play conservative hockey; they weren’t built to get into high-scoring affairs. Without Rinne, their strategy and team completely collapsed.
When making your NHL picks keep in mind long-time head coach Barry Trotz is gone and so is his conservative strategy. In his stead is Peter Laviolette, who is going to implement an up-tempo, offensive style. They’ve already started retooling the roster, which includes trading for former 40-goal scorer James Neal. They also added Olli Jokinen, Derek Roy and Mike Ribeiro and while none of them are signature moves, a lot of them should help in the short-term. The key here is for Laviolette to maintain the team’s solid defense and goaltending, while boosting the offense. We’ll see.
The blue line is stocked as Shea Weber is one of the best in the business and Seth Jones is a rising star. Roman Josi is a very good top-four defenseman too. With a healthy Rinne, this team should contend for one of the final playoff spots in the Western Conference. However, the offense is uninspiring. Even if Laviolette gets the most out of Roy, Ribeiro and Neal – all of whom underachieved in the last spots – the Preds will only have an outside shot at the playoffs.
The Preds had 88 points last season, which isn’t bad, but when you consider that they’re in the Western Conference with Colorado, St. Louis, Chicago, Minnesota and Dallas, climbing the standings will be hard for them. All of those teams should be better than them.
NHL Pick: 9th in Western Conference