2018 Nashville Predators Predictions with Futures Odds and Expert Picks
The Nashville Predators played in the Stanley Cup final two seasons ago and then shrugged off the Stanley Cup hangover to post their best-ever regular season last year - a league-best 117 points - and a Vezina win for goaltender Pekka Rinne. It seemed like they were unstoppable. But then the playoffs happened, and they were frankly a bit ugly. Rinne was uncharacteristically awful, and the team couldn't help him out. Now we await to see if they can shake off the postseason disappointment and keep on rolling or if they take a step back.
Nashville Predators Offseason Moves
The Predators obviously had a roster that works, so they have, not surprisingly, largely stuck with it. Mike Fisher retired for the second time, and that's really the end of the core moves. They added some depth free agents, but with the highest-profile guy being depth defenseman Dan Hamhuis they looked more for bodies than for difference-makers. They also saw a few guys move on, but none they will shed a real tear over. The biggest departure was defenseman Alexei Emelin, who went back home to play in the KHL, but he will hardly be missed.
The biggest things the team accomplished this offseason was on the contract front. They locked up Ryan Ellis long term, and the 27-year-old defenseman will be a wall for years to come. And backup goalie Juuse Saros was locked up for three years at very reasonable money. He is the future for this team and was likely happy to sign up and wait for Rinne, who will turn 36 this season, to step aside or be moved.
This year's draft isn't going to offer any help in the short term - or
perhaps ever. Because of past transactions, the team had only four picks
this year, and the first came only in the fourth round. You don't get
anything close to instant help in the fourth round.
Nashville Predators NHL Outlook
This is essentially the same team we have seen the last couple of years. They have built a core and largely stuck with it. And it's a heck of a core - a top goaltender, a stacked defensive group, offensive balance. And the coaching is strong as well. There are obviously things that could go wrong. The coach's message could suddenly get old, the chemistry could take a hit - just look at what happened is Ottawa at the end of last season if you aren't sure what I mean - or they could suffer serious injuries. Good teams can take steps back. But on paper this is a team that will be a contender for sure - and still not a team that is any fun to play against.
What's scariest about this team? For other teams it has to be their age. This is a young man's league these days. Aside from two 35-year-olds - Dan Hamhuis, who will not be a key player, and Pekka Rinne - there is no player on this roster right now who is older than 30. This is largely a roster in their primes. Other teams will hate that.
Nashville Predators Schedule
What stands out in September is that the team gets two looks at three teams in short time - which should give the Preds a further advantage as the better team in both games. They play the Islanders twice in a week, the Flames twice in 10 days, and then the Oilers twice in a week.
Nashville Predators NHL Futures Odds
The season points total is set at 105.5, which is behind only Tampa Bay, Toronto and Winnipeg. They also trail only those three teams in Stanley Cup Futures odds - the Predators are tied with Vegas at +1100, behind Tampa and Toronto favored at +750. Filip Forsberg is the team's top choice in the Hart Trophy futures, but at +5000 he is far from a top contender.
2017-18 Nashville Predators Predictions
The Western Conference is very deep this year, and good teams are not going to make the playoffs. But if I were to split the teams into tiers in terms of their likelihood of making the playoffs, the Predators would be on a line with only Winnipeg - the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year - and there would be no one above them. This is a top-tier team. I would take the under on the season points total just because that's a lot of points, but I don't expect any kind of collapse from them.
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