As we endure the slog of September and await the re-ignition of NHL hockey, it’s a good chance to reflect on the direction of the Nashville Predators, particularly given the team’s activity during the offseason. After three years of declining, underwhelming results, David Poile finally relinquished (willingly and unwillingly) key pieces of the 2016-17 roster in Ryan Ellis, Viktor Arvidsson, and Pekka Rinne. The team’s abstention from bringing back UFAs Erik Haula and Brad Richardson also indicates a recognition that the Preds are no longer in a place where paying warm bodies is going to be helpful, not that it was before.
Yet Poile still insists that the team is engaged in a “competitive rebuild,” wishing to reload the roster with the upcoming wave of young talent. The core he’s hoping to build the next great Nashville team around probably won’t include names like Mikael Granlund or even Filip Forsberg, yet the organization extended the former and wishes to extend the latter. Does this half-in, half-out approach project to work?
In the opinion of yours truly, the Predators should always be planning the fastest, most plausible path to winning a championship. Remaining competitive, while good in the short term, will likely get in the way of accomplishing the ultimate goal of every GM and player. After essentially putting things off for half a decade and refusing to commit to a direction, the team’s status heading into the 2021-22 season appears to be that of a boulder resting on a mountain’s peak. One way or another, a decision will be made.
If the Predators are competitive, there’s a decent chance that Filip Forsberg signs an extension, the team remains on the Western Conference playoff bubble, and Nashville eventually regains status as one of the better mid-tier contenders in the Central Division behind new faces like Phil Tomasino, Eeli Tolvanen, and Yaroslav Askarov.