Better luck next year: The Nashville Predators are starting a new chapter
They reached a plateau in terms of what they are capable of, saw an inevitable regression this season, and now they have a new voice and vision leading them.
Welcome to Better Luck Next Season. As each NHL team gets eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention, and then the Stanley Cup Playoffs, we will take a look at what went wrong, what went right, and what sits ahead for them. The Nashville Predators are the 14th team on our list and for the first time in franchise history they are going to have a new voice leading them.
Over the past few years the Nashville Predators reached a plateau that left them as a fringe playoff team that needed every variable to break their way just to make the postseason.
It did not happen this year and their run of eight consecutive playoff appearances came to an end.
Some significant change is coming along with that.
Long-time general manager David Poile, the only general manager the franchise has known in its 24-year existence, is stepping down and being replaced by a very familiar face in former head coach Barry Trotz.
Poile did his best to give Trotz a clean slate to work with by shedding salary ahead of the NHL trade deadline. He dumped veterans Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Tanner Jeannot, and Mattias Ekholm, clearing a significant amount of salary cap space in future years while also collecting a basket of draft picks.
After all of those deals the Predators own 13 picks in the 2023 draft (including multiple picks in each of the first four rounds), nine picks in the 2024 draft (including four in the first two rounds), and multiple first-round picks in the 2025 class.
That is a lot, and it gives Trotz some flexibility and options for his first offseason running the team.
So with all of that said, let’s get into the 2022-23 Nashville Predators and how they ended up here.
What went wrong for the Predators
The question is not necessarily what went wrong, but what did not go right.
During the 2021-22 season everything went their way.
— A power play unit that ranked 23rd in the NHL the year before, and had a dreadful postseason performance, skyrocketed all the way up to sixth in the league.
— Roman Josi was a runner-up for the Norris Trophy and had one of the best offensive seasons in the modern era for a defenseman, scoring 23 goals with 96 points. Both numbers shattered his previous career highs.
— They had a handful of players, including some of their big money forwards, all shoot the lights out with career years in shooting percentage that were not likely to be duplicated.
The quartet of Ryan Johansen, Matt Duchene, Filip Forsberg, Tanner Jeannot scored on 19.3 percent(!) of their shots during the 2021-22 season, with each of them topping the 18 percent mark on their own. None of those numbers were sustainable over multiple seasons.
That same quartet scored on just 10 percent of their shots the previous season.
This year? They only scored on 11.6 percent of their shots.
Injuries to Forsberg, Duchene, Johansen, and the eventual trade of Jeannot also limited their production, but the drop in shooting percentage was a significant factor here. Even if they had played the same number of games and generated the same number of shots, the difference between a 19.3 percent shooting percentage and an 11.6 shooting percentage is MASSIVE. On 696 shots (the number of shots that quartet generated during the 2021-22 season) it is a difference of 56 goals! Just through simple regression.
That does not even get into Josi’s drop in production from his 2021-22 performance.
Add in the injuries on top of that and that was simply a massive amount of offense to try and replace.
They could not replace it.
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