Nashville Predators: Rebuilt on the fly

Nashville Predators: Rebuilt on the fly
August 16, 2013, 4:30 pm
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NASHVILLE PREDATORS

2012-13: 16-23-9, 41 points

Where they finished: 5th in the Central; 14th in the West; 27th in the NHL

Coach: Barry Trotz (15th season)

Key additions: C Matt Cullen, RW Eric Nystrom, LW Matt Hendricks, RW Viktor Stalberg, G Carter Hutton

Key subtractions: D Hal Gill, LW Sergei Kostitsyn, D Jonathan Blum

Projected lineup

Forwards

Colin Wilson – Mike Fisher – Patric Hornqvist 
Viktor Stalberg – David Legwand – Filip Forsberg
Nick Spaling – Matt Cullen – Craig Smith
Matt Hendricks – Paul Gaustad – Eric Nystrom

Defensemen

Roman Josi – Shea Weber
Seth Jones – Kevin Klein
Mattias Ekholm – Ryan Ellis
Victor Bartley

Goalies

Pekka Rinne 
Carter Hutton

Our take: Is it possible to rebuild on the fly? Nashville is trying to find out. After making the playoffs seven times in eight years, including the second round twice, the bottom fell out. The Predators missed the playoffs completely after D Ryan Suter left for Minnesota.

It all could have all fallen apart if ownership hadn’t matched a massive offer sheet to star D Shea Weber from Philadelphia. But it did and that lets GM David Poile attempt to retool around one of the league’s best players. 

The forwards still aren’t ready for prime time. But swapping a veteran like Martin Erat to the Caps for top prospect Filip Forsberg at last year’s trade deadline looks like a good bet. Forsberg, 19, should be ready to crack the lineup this season.

Meanwhile, the Predators were elated when D Seth Jones, 18, fell to them with the fourth pick in the draft in June. He, too, should be ready right away. 

Nashville added some toughness with former Washington fan favorite Matt Hendricks, who signed a four-year contract as a free agent, and Eric Nystrom. Poile also added veteran center Matt Cullen (Minnesota) and winger Viktor Stalberg (Chicago).    

Offseason Grade: B

Will they make the playoffs in 2013-14: No.

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