Over the past eight seasons, Predators coach Barry Trotz has spent this time of year battling to get into the postseason or working toward a higher playoff seed.

So it’s quite a different feeling for Trotz to be conducting what is — in some respects — a virtual mini-camp for next year over the last four games.

With so many veterans hurt and so many young players in the lineup, Trotz finds himself doing much more teaching and talent evaluating than he’s used to in April.

“This really gives us a jumpstart to next year, seeing what we have and where we need to go,” said Trotz, whose team was eliminated from the playoff chase with Monday’s loss to Vancouver. “We still want to win. We’re athletes, and anytime you lose, you don’t feel good. But it’s more of a teaching and pride environment than it is critical.”

Trotz said the ability to see so much of prospects Taylor Beck, Austin Watson, Filip Forsberg, Daniel Bang, Mattias Ekholm and even of waiver addition Bobby Butler — who will be a free agent at the end of the season — should help give an idea of what the organizational ladder will look like next year.

The Predators begin their final stretch of games on Friday at Chicago.

“You’ve got players in the last year of their contract like Butler who’s trying to make a good impression, so maybe he’s getting a little more time,” Trotz said. “Then you’ve got the young guys who spent time in Milwaukee this year that are trying to make an impression so that we’ll know they’re either on our team, competing for a spot on our team or looking more like first call-ups. So you’re trying to slot yourself right now.”