As he transitions from general manager-in-waiting to full-time GM, Barry Trotz has had months to devise what his version of the Nashville Predators will look like in 2023.
David Poile did his best to set Trotz up for success on his way out the door, stockpiling a bevy of draft picks to go along with the No. 10-ranked farm system in the NHL, a Vezina-caliber goaltender and a Norris Trophy-winning defenseman.
But as the Predators get into the heart of the offseason, Trotz has plenty of questions that need answering. Does the team retain head coach John Hynes or does Trotz hire his own guy? Is a buyout for Ryan Johansen a possibility? How does the roster shake out with plenty of veteran players returning and several of the team’s top prospects performing well at the end of the season?
“We need our top players to be our top players,” Trotz said at the Predators end-of-season news conference. “Combined with the quality people that we have in the veteran roles, and also the young players coming up to feed off that energy, and the elite goaltending, I’m excited for the future. I’m excited for the opportunity to use the assets that David has given me to work with going forward, be it draft choices or be it cap space; all that sets us up for the future.”
Speaking of cap space, Trotz has money to spend in free agency if he so chooses. About $13.045 million, give or take.
While the 2023 unrestricted free agent class isn’t particularly strong, the restricted free agent class is top-heavy with plenty of young scorers. While unlikely, an offer sheet isn’t completely out of the question with a first-time GM.
“I’m looking to get faster,” Trotz said. “I want to add some size at key positions, and I want to add a little more scoring. …In a short span of 20 games, you saw the young players max out; can they do it for 82? I don’t have that answer.”
Perhaps the biggest question Trotz needs to answer is whether the Predators are a team hitting reset and building from the ground up, or are they simply reloading and looking to build a roster that could potentially compete for a playoff spot next season? Both options appear to be on the table.
“I want to temper the expectations a little bit,” Trotz said. “I think our turnaround in terms of getting to where we want to be can be very quick with opportunities. But when we had to win games down the stretch, those high-pressure, meaningful games… we had a lot of trouble. So we’ve got some work to do. Let’s just be honest there. But we’ve got the assets to do that. We need a full roster as well. But we have some of those things in place.”
Who’s under contract in 2023?
Forwards (11): Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene, Mark Jankowski, Ryan Johansen, Michael McCarron, Kiefer Sherwood, Colton Sissons, Yakov Trenin, Juuso Parssinen, Tommy Novak, Cole Smith
Defensemen (5): Tyson Barrie, Dante Fabbro, Jeremy Lauzon, Ryan McDonagh, Roman Josi
Goaltenders (2): Juuse Saros, Kevin Lankinen
Forwards: Anthony Angello, Zach Sanford
Defensemen: Mark Borowiecki
Goaltenders: Devin Cooley
Forwards: Rasmus Asplund, Cody Glass, Jimmy Huntington, John Leonard, Markus Nurmi, Isaac Ratcliffe
Defensemen: Alex Carrier, Cal Foote, Jake Livingstone
Goaltenders: Tomas Vomacka
In the system
Forwards: Egor Afanasyev, Nolan Burke, Alexander Campbell, Luke Evangelista, Adam Ingram, Joakim Kemell, Simon Knak, Jachym Kondelik, Zachary L’Heureux, Reid Schaefer, Fedor Svechkov, Phil Tomasino, Isak Walther
Defensemen: Semyon Chistyakov, Mark Del Gaizo, Kasper Kulonummi, Anton Olsson, Jack Matier, Spencer Stastney, Ryan Ufko
Goaltenders: Yaroslav Askarov
2023 Draft picks
Round 1 (2)
Round 2 (2)
Round 3 (3)
Round 4 (3)
Round 5 (2)
Round 6 (1)
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