After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2021-22 regular season, which starts Oct. 12. Today, the Nashville Predators:
2020-21 season: 31-23-2, fourth in Discover Central Division; lost in first round of Stanley Cup Playoffs
Philippe Myers, D: The 24-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers along with forward Nolan Patrick on July 17 for defenseman Ryan Ellis. Myers scored 11 points (one goal, 10 assists) and averaged 18:52 ice time in 44 games last season. … Cody Glass, F: The 22-year-old was acquired in a trade with the Vegas Golden Knights for Patrick on July 17. Glass, the No. 6 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, scored 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 27 regular-season games and played in one Stanley Cup Playoff game last season. … David Rittich, G: The 29-year-old signed a one-year contract July 28. He was 5-8-2 with a 2.86 goals-against average and .901 save percentage in 19 games (15 starts) with the Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs last season.
[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]
Pekka Rinne, G: He retired July 13 after 15 NHL seasons, all with Nashville. Rinne is tied for 19th in League history with 369 wins, was voted the Vezina Trophy as the best goalie in the NHL in 2018 and helped the Predators reach the Stanley Cup Final for the first time in 2017. He was 10-12-1 with a 2.84 GAA, .907 save percentage and two shutouts in 24 games (21 starts) last season. … Ryan Ellis, D: He was traded to the Flyers for Myers and Patrick on July 17. Ellis scored 18 points (five goals, 13 assists) in 35 regular-season games and five points (one goal, four assists) in six playoff games last season. … Viktor Arvidsson, F: He was traded to the Los Angeles Kings for a second-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft and a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft on July 1. Arvidsson scored 15 points (10 goals, 15 assists) in 50 regular-season games and did not have a point in two playoff games last season. … Calle Jarnkrok, F: He was selected by the Seattle Kraken in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft on July 21. Jarnkrok scored 28 points (13 goals, 15 assists) in 49 regular-season games and had one assist in five playoff games last season. … Erik Haula, F: He signed a two-year contract with the Boston Bruins on July 28 after scoring 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 51 regular-season games and four points (one goal, three assists) in six playoff games last season. … Erik Gudbranson, D: The unrestricted free agent scored four points (one goal, three assists) in 45 regular-season games with the Ottawa Senators and Predators last season and did not have a point in two playoff games. … Brad Richardson, F: The unrestricted free agent scored four points (one goal, three assists) in 17 regular-season games and did not have a point in two playoff games last season.
On the cusp
Philip Tomasino, F: The 20-year-old tied for the scoring lead with Chicago of the American Hockey League with 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 29 games and was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team. … Egor Afanasyev, F: The 20-year-old scored six points (two goals, four assists) in 16 games with CSKA of the Kontinental Hockey League last season.
What they still need
Better play through the middle of the ice. Ryan Johansen (22 points in 48 games) and Matt Duchene (13 points in 34 games) each struggled with consistency last season. General manager David Poile said he hopes having new linemates will help Nashville’s top two centers and get them back to playing at a high level. Mikael Granlund, Glass and Tomasino, the No. 24 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, also could play in the middle, with Johansen or Duchene shifting to the wing.
They said it
“It’s the proverbial cliche, it’s a step backwards in some regard to take a giant step or several steps forward and that’s the plan with inserting a lot of these younger players into our lineup and changing our team around. I was very happy with our team in the second half of last season and I think it’s fair of me to say that a lot of that came from our younger players.” — General manager David Poile
Goalie Juuse Saros could lose some fantasy appeal with the Predators trading Ellis and Arvidsson, but he has been one of the most efficient goalies in the NHL and following Rinne’s retirement should be able to handle a heavy workload going into his seventh season. Saros has a .921 save percentage since 2016-17, tied with Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ben Bishop of the Dallas Stars for the best in the NHL in that span (minimum 150 games), and his 2.49 GAA is tied with Vasilevskiy for fifth in that stretch. — Pete Jensen
Filip Forsberg — Ryan Johansen — Matt Duchene
Luke Kunin — Mikael Granlund — Eeli Tolvanen
Nick Cousins — Cody Glass — Philip Tomasino
Yakov Trenin — Colton Sissons — Tanner Jeannot
Roman Josi — Alexandre Carrier
Mattias Ekholm — Dante Fabbro
Matt Benning — Philippe Myers