The Nashville Predators improved to 7-10-0 on the season after defeating the Columbus Blue Jackets Saturday, but that hasn’t quite changed fortunes for the franchise overall.
The Predators are second from the basement in the Central Division, just a point above the hapless Detroit Red Wings. They are three games behind the last place team in the division, mind you, but that hasn’t helped.
“Whether you’re an owner of the team, if you’re (general manager) David Poile, if you’re me, if you’re a player, it feels the same way. Everyone’s angry and confused,” said team president and CEO Sean Henry via The Athletic. “We all believed that this roster would produce more.”
Last season, the Predators finished with a 35-26-8 record and were dropped from the Qualifying Round by the Arizona Coyotes.
The issue here is that Nashville thinks they should win with this roster, but they aren’t.
There’s no question their defence is among the best in the NHL, but the forward group is another story. Poile and the Preds have parted with plenty of green for the group, but Matt Duchene has eight points in 17 games this season and sits at a minus-10.
Signed to a seven-year deal worth $56 million in 2019, it’s safe to say more is expected from the 30-year-old.
According to Elliote Friedman on Hockey Night in Canada’s Headlines segment Saturday, the Predators are willing to entertain offers on almost everyone – with few exceptions. Friedman named just three “untouchables” on the roster: Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Pekka Rinne.
It’s not known if the Predators are on their way to full-time sell mode just yet, but the messaging is clear and ownership isn’t impressed. That could put some impressive names in the water, like Filip Forsberg, Duchene, or Ryan Johansen.
Forsberg has a year remaining on his deal and could be a worthy target, while swallowing Duchene’s money would obviously take a bigger commitment. Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula are lined up to hit unrestricted free agency after this season, so they’re in the mix.
As for Rinne, the netminder is in the final year of his contract. He still has plenty to prove at 38-years-old and this season is proving a bounce-back year after a disappointing 2019-2020 campaign.
With the trade deadline looming on April 12, teams have plenty of options for making improvements. The Predators could drop some tantalizing targets on the market by then, which could make for an interesting period ahead of this season’s conclusion.
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