5 bold predictions for Nashville Predators offseason: Which big contracts get exposed?
If there’s one thing to be gleaned from the Nashville Predators’ 2021 season, it’s that they weren’t as bad as they showed in the beginning and they weren’t as good as they showed during the last two months of the regular season.
They went from postseason longshots – less than a 2% chance of making it, according to some who forecast such scenarios – to postseason qualifiers, thanks mostly to goalie Juuse Saros.
Now it’s the offseason, after falling in six games to the Carolina Hurricanes, the time when general manager David Poile does a bulk of his work.
With that in mind here are five predictions, just for fun, for this offseason. Some may come true, none may come true.
Not finished with Finnish
It only makes sense that Pekka Rinne, the “face of the franchise,” returns for an encore and a proper sendoff. The 38-year-old is an unrestricted free agent who is endeared to the city and the team. He also likely wouldn’t carry too big a cap hit as he further settles into the backup role. Both sides have said they will talk soon. Both have expressed interest in working out a deal. With no NHL-ready goalies in the system, Rinne’s return makes too much sense.
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Matt Duchene and/or Ryan Johansen will be left unprotected in expansion draft
That doesn’t mean the Seattle Kraken will take a crack at either of them, who both carry $8 million cap hits and have struggled to live up to their contracts. Poile could try to sweeten the deal by giving up assets to convince the Kraken to take one of them. Either way, don’t be surprised if one or both of them are exposed. Don't be surprised if neither is chosen.
Juuse Saros will be re-signed
After so many years as an understudy, Saros emerged as a legit No. 1 goalie. The Predators don’t make a run to the postseason without him. Period. Expect to see plenty of Juuse at Bridgestone in the coming years after he signs on for a well-earned raise from his $1.5 million salary.
Poile said he and Saros’ people haven’t talked yet, but you can bet it’s high on the list of Poile’s many summer priorities and that it will happen.
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Mikael Granlund will be back
Poile said after the 2019-20 season that Granlund wouldn’t return to the Predators. Then he did. And he became the team’s “most consistent” player, according to Poile. The unrestricted free agent’s 13 goals tied him with Calle Jarnkrok for most on the team. His game has thrived under John Hynes. Question is, how much of a raise will he get from the $4.25 million he made this season?
Viktor Arvidsson will be gone
When he’s on and healthy, Arvidsson is a legit scoring threat. Problem is, he can’t seem to stay consistent or healthy or consistently healthy. He missed the last four games of the playoffs and the last five games of the regular season, when he had just 25 points in 50 games. Injuries have plagued him the last few seasons. If Poile can trade him to make room for a younger player, that might be the way to go. He could thrive somewhere else.
Reach Paul Skrbina at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PaulSkrbina.