Only six players played more than 70 games for the Nashville Predators last season en route to the team missing the playoffs by three points.
This offseason, Nashville trimmed its roster which was bloated partially out of necessity because of all the injuries their players sustained in 2022/23.
The Preds need to find durability and focus if they want to make the playoffs in 2023/24.
|What||2023/24 NHL Season|
|Where||US & Canada|
|When||October 10, 2023 - June 2024|
|How to watch||ABC, ESPN, TNT & NHL Center Ice|
|Odds||TOR Maple Leafs +800, COL Avalanche +850, EDM Oilers +900, NJ Devils +1000, CAR Hurricanes +1000|
The Predators finished fifth in the Central Division, three points off the last playoff spot.
A series of unfortunate injuries severely hurt their playoff chances.
Three of the Predators' top four points scorers - defenseman Roman Josi, center Matt Duchene, and center Filip Forsberg - missed extended periods of time. As a result, no player on the team surpassed 60 points last season.
Forsberg and Josi both went down with concussions in February and March respectively, while Duchene missed the last 10 games of the season after suffering a freak hand injury when teammate Dante Fabbro's shot hit him in the glove.
Ryan Johansen also suffered a freak calf injury in late February of the 2022/23 season that caused him to miss the remainder of the campaign.
Health is the main thing Preds fans can expect - or at least hope for - in the coming season.
They also have a new head coach in Andrew Brunette, who played for the Preds in the 1998/99 season.
Brunette last coached the Florida Panthers for the majority of the 2021/22 season, where he went 51-18-6 in 75 games before the top-seeded Panthers were swept by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the playoffs.
That year's playoff result was a disappointment, but the ability Brunette showed as a regular season coach is something the Preds need this season.
Forsberg reached his peak points total of 84 in 69 games in 2021/22, so he has the ability to push the Predators into the playoffs if he can get another mostly full season under his belt.
Seeing 24-year-old center Cody Glass and 25-year-old defenseman Dante Fabbro each step up from being solid role players to borderline stars would be a huge help for their playoff hopes this season and for the foreseeable future.
The Predators are +5000 to lift the Stanley Cup, putting them near the middle of the pack in the odds.
Goaltender Juuse Saros has the shortest odds on the team for any individual award. He is +600 to win the Vezina Trophy for the league's top goaltender, the joint-shortest odds in the league and putting him level with Ilya Sorokin of the New York Islanders.
Saros has finished in the top four of Vezina Trophy voting in each of the past two seasons.
Forsberg and Josi are both +25000 to win the Hart Trophy for the league's most valuable player. Duchene is +30000 for the award.
Brunette has the eighth-longest odds at +3300 for the Jack Adams Award which honors the league's top coach.
Josi is +1100 for the Norris Trophy honoring the league's top defenseman, the sixth-shortest odds.
For the Rocket Richard Trophy which honors the season's top goalscorer, Forsberg is +10000 and Duchene is +25000.
The Preds get thrown into the fire in the first week of the season with back-to-back games against the Boston Bruins, who had the most points in a season in NHL history last campaign, and the Edmonton Oilers, who topped the Western Conference in 2022/23 and have arguably the league's two best players in Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
The Predators don't play a fellow Central Division team until Nov. 9, when they visit the Winnipeg Jets who narrowly beat them to fourth place - and the final playoff spot - in the division last season.
That's the start of a run with four intra-division matchups in five games: Nashville hosts the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 11, they host Connor Bedard and the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 18, and they host last year's division-winning Colorado Avalanche led by Cale Makar and Nathan MacKinnon on Nov. 20.
Their first game against the Minnesota Wild, who finished third in the division in 2022/23, is on Nov. 30 in Nashville.
Their first game against the Dallas Stars is on Dec. 23, and they play twice in January on the 6th and the 12th.
Nashville visits last year's Stanley Cup winners, the Vegas Golden Knights, on Jan. 15.
Andrew Brunette begins his first full season as an NHL head coach this year, as the Preds hired him to replace John Hynes.
Brunette proved himself to be a good regular season coach when he held the interim position for 75 games with the Florida Panthers in 2021/22 before his top-seeded side was swept in the second round of the playoffs by the Tampa Bay Lightning.
At this point in time, the Predators just want to make the playoffs to the hiring of Brunette could prove to be a smart decision.
Denis Gurianov (RW) Montreal
Tanner Molendyk (D) Draft
Gustav Nyquist (LW) Minnesota
Luke Schenn (D) Toronto
Fedor Svechkov (C) Spartak Moscow
Mark Borowiecki (D) Retired
Tanner Jeannot (F) Tampa Bay Lightning
John Leonard (LW) Arizona Coyotes
Michael McCarron (RW) Free agent
Zach Sanford (LW) Arizona Coyotes