Predators coach Barry Trotz is often quick to point out that the NHL is not a developmental league.

But when it comes to Trotz and most of his defensemen, his ability to coax and push their talent to a tangible level in the NHL is of the utmost importance. A lot of them are young and inexperienced and need to be brought up to speed.

“If it’s defense, you keep a guy away that maybe isn’t ready for certain situations,” Trotz said. “You keep him away from the top players and that type of thing.”

With the exception of Shea Weber and Kevin Klein, Predators defensemen have played a total of 318 career games. Over the summer, Nashville opted to jettison veteran Hal Gill to go with a younger core. The Predators felt their current group could grow together and become one of the league’s best in a few years.

There have been a lot of learning, meetings and ice-time variations as the season has gone on.

For example, earlier in the year, 22-year-old defenseman Ryan Ellis found himself protected at home from the tougher matchups as he got up to speed.

For the first month of the season, rookie Seth Jones found himself on the first pairing and playing big minutes. Part of it had to do with Roman Josi’s concussion, but the first-round pick’s lowest total was 18:35 in his NHL debut. The last game of the month he played 30:19.