There is a different kind of preseason buzz surrounding the Nashville Predators from where this team was at this same time in 2021. It is very clear that the stakes have risen after a busy offseason with two significant roster additions.
The Predators went out and got two important veterans in Ryan McDonagh and Nino Niederreiter to bolster their postseason hopes, and hopefully get past the first round hump. Something that has been a roadblock for them since the 2018 playoffs.
To add onto the upgrades of McDonagh and Niederreiter, the Predators took care of one of their franchise cornerstones by re-signing Filip Forsberg to an eight-year contract valued at $68 million in total ($8.5M AAV). A very team-friendly deal for the front office that avoided catastrophe if he was lost as a free agent over the summer.
To round everything out, the younger core on this team keeps improving and showed that last season as the Predators surprisingly even made the playoffs, keeping their current postseason streak now at eight seasons in a row. Only the Pittsburgh Penguins have a longer active streak.
Philip Tomasino is expected to get a bigger role as he enters his second NHL season after putting up a 32-point rookie campaign and appearing in 76 games.
Alexandre Carrier elevated his game as a key defensive piece and will round out a formidable defensive core led, of course, by Roman Josi.
Throw in your Vezina Trophy caliber goaltender in Juuse Saros, and the result you get on paper is a team that has no excuses. Not only do they have to make the playoffs again, but they have to actually make some noise. You can’t bow out in the first round again when you look at this roster on paper. It will be an abject failure, to put it mildly.
I couldn’t say that with any confidence during training camp in 2021. In fact, the overall consensus last season was pump the brakes, show patience and expect somewhat of a rebuild year full of growing pains.
What is heightening the training camp buzz even more is the reuniting with franchise great Pekka Rinne. He has joined the organization in a special advisory role, officially entitled “Special Alumni Advisor”. I don’t care what the title is; it’s just outstanding to have Rinne back with the team in some capacity.
The ante has been upped. The Nashville Predators have to win, and win big again. Leave the excuses at the door. Just win.