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The Predators' 2024 Offseason May be an Exciting One

The Predators 2023-24 season ended with a dud.

A shocking collapse in Game 4 set the team back in their series against the Canucks and they never truly recovered. After failing to score in Game 6, their season came to a close.

Ultimately, however, the season should be seen largely as a success.

In their first season with new Head Coach-General Manager duo, Andrew Brunette and Barry Trotz, the team was highly competitive and held their own in what, on paper, was a challenging first round matchup.

Despite moving on from a number of veterans, namely Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen, who were defining of the Predators past few seasons, the 2023 offseason was a successful retool.

Barry Trotz showed his willingness to make a splash, signing Luke Schenn, Gustav Nyqust, and Ryan O'Reilly all to multi-year deals upon the opening of last season's free agency.

Meanwhile, Trotz maintained a strong cap position and acquired a number of draft picks through trades of Mattias Ekholm and Tanner Jeannot. At this moment, Nashville sits with the 7th most cap space in the league at $23m.

After a strong 2023-24 regular season which saw a number of new faces, a strong mix of youth and veteran involvement, an impressive streak, and the founding of a Head Coach-General Manager relationship that does not accept mediocrity, things are picking up.

The Predators outperformed nearly all expectations in 2023 and 2024 is shaping up to be much the same but with many more resources to solve the team's key issues:

Nashville would certainly benefit from a revamped 3rd defensive pairing. While the Ryan McDonagh trade was a positive one from every angle, Nashville's 3rd pairing of Alexandre Carrier and Tyson Barrie leaves a lot to be desired. While Spencer Stastney did step up impressively, his absence led to some considerable defensive incongruencies, particularly in the playoffs.

Defense has often been a strength for Nashville and while not perfect, it should not be the key focus of the offseason. Really, the team's biggest issue is, as it has been for years, on the offensive side.

Filip Forsberg recorded an astounding 48 goals this season, good for both a career and franchise high. While new additions in O'Reilly and Nyquist were necessary compliments with 26 & 23 goals respectively, more is needed.

That is where some big spending could come in for Nashville.

There has been great speculation regarding a number of forwards Nashville could consider. Free agency has some interesting names in Florida's Sam Reinhart, Carolina's Jake Guentzel, and Tampa's Steven Stamkos, but the most intrigue comes through trade.

Most commonly, Toronto's Mitch Marner has been linked to Nashville.

Marner, 27, has been an all-star in 6 of his 8 seasons and contributes in each facet of the game--his 99 points in 2023 would have set a Predators' franchise record. While he is not as much of an interior scorer, he is otherwise versatile, underratedly quick, and has vision to create for teammates.

While an obvious boost for the first line, the compensation for Marner is, obviously, a key aspect.

Whether Nashville makes the splash to acquire Marner or another high profile scorer, it will require a number of resources, likely a mix of defensemen, draft picks, and potentially, a goaltender.

While no Predators are undeniably 'on the trade block,' it will likely be a mix of players and picks if Nashville were to complete such a high-profile deal.

Names like Juuse Saros and Dante Fabbro come to mind as players that could be moved. While trading Saros would create even greater issues, it puts the necessary compensation into perspective.

Marner is, of course, no sure thing but there are a number of forwards that could be moved. Toronto seems to be a prime team to deal with as they are in a sticky cap situation but Trotz could go a number of directions.

Impending free agents are also another piece of the Predators' offseason puzzle. Notably, Jason Zucker, Alex Carrier, Anthony Beauvillier, Tyson Barrie, Kieffer Sherwood, and Kevin Lankinen are all due new contracts.

Zucker was acquired midseason and provided an offensives spark. Despite his age of 32, he is a no-brainer to resign, likely demanding a contract in the realm of $5m/year. Otherwise, Carrier would be attractive at the right price, and I was pleasantly surprised by some of the contributions by Beauvillier and Sherwood, especially down the stretch.

While there is money to spend, Trotz must be selective as free agency opens in 2 weeks. While a big move may be in the cards, requiring $10m+ in cap space, a degree of depth is also missing.

Positive for fans, Trotz will undoubtedly be making calls and considering options, no matter how extreme they may seem. Known in his first season in charge to call out specific players, he will leave no stone unturned in assembling the vision he and his head coach desire.

Much like Brian Callahan and Ran Carthon, this duo is in the process of building something very exciting yet remaining competitive in the process.

Ultimately, the Predators' current roster is playoff-caliber, but may gain even more offensive firepower in the coming weeks and months.


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