June 17, 2024

Predators send veterans O’Reilly, Schenn to try to return to playoffs

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is examining where each team stands in preparation for the 2023-24 regular season, which begins in October. 10. Today, the Nashville Predators:

Season 2022-23: 42-32-8, fifth in the Central Division; did not qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs

Key arrival

Ryan O’ReillyA: The 32-year-old signed a four-year contract on July 1 and is likely to be the No. 1 center. 1 will be there. He had 30 points (16 goals, 14 assists) in 53 regular season games for the Toronto Maple Leafs and St. Louis Blues last season and nine points (three goals, six assists) in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games for Toronto. A Conn Smythe Trophy winner as MVP of the playoffs in 2019 when he helped lead the Blues to the Stanley Cup, O’Reilly is expected to provide leadership to a young team. … Luke Schenn,d: The 33-year-old signed a three-year deal July 1 and could play on a defensive pairing with Nashville’s captain Josie Roman. Schenn had 22 points (four goals, 18 assists) in 70 regular season games for the Maple Leafs and Vancouver Canucks last season and led the NHL with 318 blocked shots last season. … Gustav NyquistA: The 33-year-old signed a two-year contract on July 1. He had 27 points (11 goals, 16 assists) in 48 games for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild last season and five assists in six playoff games. As a four-time 20-goal scorer, Nyquist is likely to play a role in the top six, potentially playing alongside the center. Glass Cody. … Denis GurianovA: The 26-year-old signed a one-year contract on July 11. He had 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 66 games for the Dallas Stars and Montreal Canadiens last season. … Andrew Brunette, coach: The 49-year-old was hired on May 31, replacing John Hynes. Brunette, who was an associate coach with the New Jersey Devils last season, had a 51-18-6 record as the coach of the Florida Panthers in 2021-22. … Barry Trotz, general manager: The 61-year-old became GM on July 1, replacing David Poile, the winningest GM in NHL history (1,533). Trotz has 914 coaching wins, the third most in NHL history, during 23 seasons (1998-2022). He coached the Predators for the team’s first 15 seasons.

Video: NHL Tonight discusses the future of the Predators

Key events

Ryan JohansenA: Traded to the Colorado Avalanche on June 24 for forward Alex Galchenyuk. Johansen had 28 points (12 goals, 16 goals) in 55 games with the Predators last season and 362 points (110 goals, 252 assists) in 533 games over eight seasons with the Predators. … Matt DucheneA: He signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Stars on July 1 one day after the Predators bought out the remaining three years of his contract. He had 56 points (22 goals, 34 assists) in 71 games last season. … Mark Borowiecki, D: He announced his retirement after 12 seasons on May 3. He was limited to four games due to injury last season.

On the cusp

Luke EvangelistaA: The 21-year-old had 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 24 games after being recalled by Milwaukee of the American Hockey League in February. Evangelista (6-foot, 183 pounds), who was the No. 1 pick, hopes 42 in the 2020 NHL Draft, adding strength and weight this season as he competes for a role in the top six. … Joakim KemellA: In his first pro season in North America, the 19-year-old had 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 14 regular season games for Milwaukee and 10 points (eight goals, two assists) in 14 playoff games. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Kemell, Nashville’s first-round pick (No. 17) in the 2022 NHL Draft, in the NHL this season. … Egor AfanasyevA: The 22-year-old, who was the No. 1 pick, had one goal. 45 in the 2019 NHL Draft, in 17 games for the Predators last season. A skilled pocket handler, Afanasyev had 59 points (25 goals, 34 assists) in 131 games over the past two seasons in Milwaukee.

What they still need

More consistent point producers. Even though Johansen and Duchene were not part of the future for the Predators, the team will still need to replace their offense. Nashville also traded forwards Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Tanner Jeannot and a defendant Mathias Ekholm before the NHL Trade Deadline last season. The Predators will have to look to young players like Evangelista, Glass, Juuso Parssinen and Tommy Novak they will continue to build on the promise they showed last season.

They said it

“I wanted to change a little bit of the culture. It’s not that the culture was bad, it just needed a little tweak. I was looking for serial winners. I wanted to allow a path for our young guys to develop and be surrounded by those types of people and have those position holders so that we can have that skill, that speed, all the things that we have drafted, mature and find a good place for a good while.” — general manager Barry Trotz

Fantasy focus

O’Reilly brings Stanley Cup experience and pedigree to Nashville. He had 20 points in 24 games (including playoffs) in a key top-six role for Toronto and has fantasy upside if he plays on a line with a high-scoring wing. Filip Forsberg and on the power play with Josi. — Anna Dua

Projected line

Filip Forsberg — Ryan O’Reilly — Luke Evangelista

Juuso Parssinen — Cody Glass — Gustav Nyquist

Denis Gurianov — Tommy Novak — Philip Tomasino

Yakov your trainColton SissonsSmith’s rear

Roman Josi — Luke Schenn

Ryan McDonaghTyson Barry

Jeremy LauzonAlexandre Carrier

Hair in Saros

Kevin Lankinen

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