As Patric Hornqvist put the puck off Pekka Rinne’s back with about 1:30 left in game six of the Stanley Cup Final, all 17,000 fans shed a tear as they knew the magical run for the Preds was coming to an end. After sweeping the first seed, Chicago Blackhawks, in the first round. Singing the Blues to the Blues in the second round, and roasting the Ducks in the third round. The Preds created something the city of Nashville had never seen before, but after that loss in game 6 all of that was behind them and preparations began for the 20th season.
It did not take long for GM, David Poile, to switch up the team in order to ensure another run to the Finals. On July 1st, as free agency opened, Poile made to major moves. First he traded household name Colin Wilson to the Colorado Avalanche for a fourth round pick. Wilson was not producing enough and according to many sources the Preds and Wilson were “getting frustrated with his inconsistent playing.” Trading Wilson will allow better and younger talent to have a chance at making the team this season. Also on July 1st, the Preds made their first major signing, Nick Bonito from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bonito missed a majority of the Stanley Cup Final with a broken foot but he will play a major role for the Preds as his veteran presence will provide a good replacement for Mike Fisher as he retired. The Preds also lost James Neal to the expansion trade. Personally I think this was the right move by the Preds as Neal’s skating ability was not the greatest and his goal scoring ability can and will be matched by Kevin Fiala, who should be playing in his first full season with the Preds.
Another big box that needed to be checked off for Poile and the Preds were the big resigning that needed to be addressed in order to keep the core of the team together. And what Poile was able to accomplish was amazing. There were four player that needed a new contract; Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, Frederick Gaudreau, and Pontus Åberg. Åberg and Gaudreau were pretty low cap hit at $650,000 and $666,000 per year respectively. The main concern was getting Arvidsson, who was a 30 goal scorer, and Johansen, top line center, contracts and not go above the salary cap. Poile was able to sign both of them below the cap and still have about $6 million left over. Arvidsson signed a 7 year $29.75 million contract worth $4.25 million a year, and Ryan Johansen to an 8 year $64 million contract worth $8 million a year. Poile was able to lock down to core of Nashville’s team for less than any other team.
Coming into training camp, the main question was who is going to replace Mike Fisher, he retired, as the captain of the team, and Roman Josi was chosen to take the leadership role. With Josi as captain, Ryan Ellis was named associate captain and Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, and Mattis Ekholm were named assistant captains.
Looking ahead to what the team will look like for the new season, as of writing this article the Preds finished the preseason 2-2-2 and the roster had not been finalized but I’m guessing it will look about the same as last year but with some changes. With Ryan Ellis out the first half of the season with a knee injury, look for Alexei Emelin to take over his spot in the top four, and look for potentially seeing Vladislav Kamenev, the young Russian talent, on the opening day roster.
The 20th season of the Nashville Predators is looking like it could be another Cup run. Will all the pieces come together again? Let’s hope so