NHL Season Recap – Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators

2016-17 season: 41-29-12, 94 points

  • Beat Nashville 4-0 in the First Round
  • Beat St. Louis 4-2  in the Conference Semifinals
  • Beat Anaheim 4-2 in the Conference Finals
  • Lost to Pittsburgh 4-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals
Head Coach: Peter Laviolette (2014)
4th Place Central Division General Manager: David Poile (1997)
8th Place Eastern Conference AHL Affiliate: Milwaukee Admirals

ECHL Affiliate: Norfolk Admirals

Draft Position: 30th

Top Forwards

POS Age Name GP Points Goals Assists +/- CF%
LW 23 Viktor Arvidsson 80 61 31 30 16 55.0
C 24 Ryan Johansen 82 61 14 47 1 55.9
LW 22 Filip Forsberg 82 58 31 27 -4 54.1
C 36 Mike Fisher 72 42 18 24 1 50.4
RW 29 James Neal 70 41 23 18 -10 52.9
LW 27 Colin Wilson 70 35 12 23 7 53.1
C 25 Calle Jarnkrok 81 31 15 16 -1 50.8
RW 27 Craig Smith 78 29 12 17 7 54.4
C 36 Mike Ribeiro 46 25 4 21 -5 53.4
LW 25 Austin Watson 77 17 5 12 14 44.3

Top Defensemen

POS Age Name GP Points Goals Assists +/- CF%
D 26 Roman Josi 72 49 12 37 7 53.0
D 27 P.K. Subban 66 40 10 30 -8 54.4
D 26 Ryan Ellis 71 38 16 22 17 49.3
D 26 Mattias Ekholm 82 23 3 20 4 52.8
D 29 Matt Irwin 74 14 3 11 15 50.9

Top Goaltenders

POS Age Name Games Started W/L Record Shutouts GAA Save %
G 34 Pekka Rinne 61 31-19-9 3 2.42 .918
G 21 Juuse Saros 19 10-8-3 1 2.35 .923
G 25 Marek Mazanec 2 0-2-0 0 4.72 .839

Trades Made During the Season

What They Acquired Team They Traded With In Exchange For
F P.A. Parenteau New Jersey Devils 2017 6th RD Pick
F Vernon Fiddler New Jersey Devils 2017 4th RD Pick
D Andrew O’Brien Anaheim Ducks F Max Gortz
F Cody McLeod Colorado Avalanche F Felix Girard

Impending Free Agents

POS Age Name 2016-17 Cap Hit
C 37 Mike Fisher $4,400,000
C 37 Mike Ribeiro $3,500,000
RW 34 P.A. Parenteau $1,250,000
D 28 Brad Hunt $600,000
D 33 Adam Pardy $575,000
C   Adam Payerl $575,000
D 28 Yannick Weber $575,000
LW 29 Harry Zolnierczyk $575,000
LW 28 Michael Liambas $575,000

Draft Needs

  • The Predators have six picks in the upcoming draft, missing just their fourth rounder.  They need to focus on drafting a center with their first or second round pick as that was the position where they suffered the most in the playoffs after Ryan Johansen’s injury.  His absence left Mike Fisher, Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, and Austin Watson to fill in and it wasn’t quite enough. Additionally, Fisher is now 37 years old and is approaching the end of his career so the Predators will need to draft a replacement.  There are often a lot of quality centers in the draft since a majority of the forwards in the NHL initially played center in the minors, so they should be able to find a quality one even late in the first round.

What I Said About Them Before the Season

  • Before the season began, I wrote about how much I loved the Subban/Weber trade for the Predators, believing that they got the better player in the present and he is three years younger than Weber is.  I wrote that the addition of Subban was making an already-elite defense group even better and that if Pekka Rinne could return to being an above average goaltender, then Nashville could make a run at a Stanley Cup.  I predicted that they had a strong chance at competing for the division title and making a deep run in the playoffs and in my NHL season preview, I actually picked them to make the Stanley Cup finals.

Success/Failure

  • Success – Nashville made the Stanley Cup Finals as a 16th seed, the first team to ever do so. That playoff seed is not indicative of how good of a team they actually were as they dealt with a series of injuries throughout the season.  This season proved how badly they needed a first line center as Ryan Johansen made a great impact on their top line with Viktor Arvidsson and Filip Forsberg.  That line was one of the best in the league this season as both Arvidsson and Forsberg were 30 goalscorers, with Arvidsson being one of the most surprising top level goalscorers in the league.  The addition of P.K. Subban also made a big difference to their blueline as the Predators further confirmed that they have the best defense unit in all of hockey.  Their pairing of Subban and Mattias Ekholm was one of the most effective pairings in the league this season and especially in the playoffs, as they were often matched up against the opposing team’s top line.  Goaltender Pekka Rinne also rebounded this season and carried the Predators through the first three rounds of the playoffs.  They also got solid goaltending from backup Juuse Saros and it appears that they have found their goaltender of the future in him.  The best part about the Predators is that they are still a young team whose future is bright and they have done an excellent job at drafting, developing lower round picks and college free agents into regular NHLers, and making trades.  GM David Poile is not afraid to build this team through trading instead of exclusively through drafting and is willing to trade away core franchise pieces in order to better the future of the team.  Because of his willingness to do so, the Predators should be considered contenders for the foreseeable future.

Offseason Needs

  • The biggest offseason need for the Predators will be re-signing Ryan Johansen, their first line center, and who is an RFA this offseason.  They gave up a lot in Seth Jones to acquire him and by doing so were committing to him as their top center for the future.  Now is the time to further prove that by signing him to a long-term deal.  This will not be cheap, however, and they can probably expect to pay him something similar to Filip Forsberg, who got 6 and $36 million last offseason.  Luckily, the Predators have $17 million in cap space to work with and that will be plenty of money re-sign Johansen and their other free agents.  They also need to re-sign Austin Watson, Frederick Gaudreau, Pontus Aberg, and Viktor Arvidsson, all RFAs and who all played big roles in their playoff run.  In addition, captain Mike Fisher needs a new contract and I think that he and the team will work something out for a short-term deal with a low cap hit.  He’ll give them a discount to stay in Nashville, I’m pretty certain of it.  The only other player who they will need to truly negotiate with is Arivdsson, as he scored 31 goals this season.  I don’t think this will cost the Predators too much as he may just be happy to have the long-term security of a multi-year deal.   I have heard that perhaps they should look at trading Roman Josi or Ryan Ellis this summer, jumping on the opportunity to bring back a scoring forward before both become more expensive.  Josi has three more seasons left on his deal with a $4 million cap hit while Ellis has two more years left with a hit of $2.5 million.  Both are underpaid for the quality of players they are and the Predators still have Dante Fabbro, who just completed his first season at Boston University, in their system.  He probably projects to be a top four defenseman for them long term and clearing a spot for him will be pivotal to ensuring that he signs with them.  Perhaps it is a season too early to look at moving Josi and Ellis as they would have a hole left in their absence but I do think there is something to opening up discussions. Josi didn’t play that well in his own zone in the playoffs, often making questionable decisions with the puck and if they could get a top six winger in return for him, it would be a trade worth considering.

*All stats and information came from hockey-reference.com, rosterresource.com, spotrac.com, NHL.com, hockeydb.com, capfriendly.com, tsn.ca, and eliteprospects.com*

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