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Nashville Predators

Staff picks: 2023 Predictions for Predators, Central Division, More



Predators defensemen Roman Josi and Dante Fabbro
Photo of Roman Josi, left, and Dante Fabbro by John Russell/Nashville Predators

With the 2023 regular season kicking off, the Nashville Hockey Now staff is going on record with our Nashville Predators predictions as well as our best guess at how the Central Division and the rest of the NHL will shake out.

Predators leading scorer

Michael Gallagher: Roman Josi (81 points). He’s led the Predators in points each of the last four seasons, so why bet against him now? With the exception of the COVID-shortened 56-game 2020-21 season, Josi has tallied 54 or more points in eight of the last nine seasons.

Nick Kieser: Roman Josi (72 points). Captain Josi is a tough out regarding who collects the most points this season. He’ll likely be the quarterback on the first power-play unit, meaning he’s likely to see more points in new head coach Andrew Brunette’s system. Josi does have 75 points on the power play over the last three seasons.

Clay Brewer: Ryan O’Reilly. Many think his best hockey is behind him, but I don’t believe it. O’Reilly’s been cited as one of the most intelligent players in the NHL, not to mention his skill level is still top-notch. Put him on a line with talented players like Filip Forsberg and Juuso Parssinen, and the sky is the limit for the center this season. He’ll also get plenty of powerplay time.

Predators leading scorer 23 or under

Gallagher: Philip Tomasino (52 points). It appears Tomasino will be playing on a line with Tommy Novak and Luke Evangelista, which was arguably the team’s top trio during the preseason. If that line stays intact for much of the season, I like Tomasino’s chance to not only top 50 points but edge out Evangelista for the team lead in points among rookies.

Kieser: Luke Evangelista (45 points). After making his NHL debut last season, Evangelista has looked comfortable since jumping up to Nashville. He’s quick to make the right decisions and if he plays primarily on a line with Tommy Novak this season, the duo is bound to be within the top five of points among Predators skaters.

Brewer: Juuso Parssinen. Parssinen entered the Predators lineup by fire last season when he scored an incredible goal down the right side against the New York Rangers where he exhibited a combination of speed, size, and skill. He did it once more with a between-the-legs goal for the OT winner against the Minnesota Wild in a must-win situation for Nashville. If the young Finn can stay healthy, he will rack up the points on a line with Forsberg and O’Reilly.

Predators leading goal scorer

Gallagher: Filip Forsberg (37). Given his injury history, its likely Forsberg only plays roughly 65 to 70 games. However, even in less than a full season, Forsberg should easily top 30 goals playing next to O’Reilly. And with a competent winger like Parssinen on the opposite side, Nashville’s top line could be one to be reckoned with.  

Kieser: Filip Forsberg (44). Since returning from injury, the Swedish winger has looked like his old self. There’s no question he and O’Reilly will be looking for each other all season and if the tandem develops chemistry, then watch out. Brunette has called O’Reilly “the smartest player in the league” a handful of times, henceforth this could work out in Forsberg’s favor.

Brewer: Juuso Parssinen. The 22-year-old forward has all of the intangibles. He just has to put it together now and stay healthy for a full NHL season.

Predator with the most fights

Gallagher: Luke Schenn (6). Barry Trotz admitted that he signed the 33-year-old blue-liner as a personal protection plan for Josi, who’s taken his share of unnecessary shots over the years. With Tanner Jeannot gone, Yakov Trenin and Jeremy Lauzon are the only other skaters aside from Schenn who might be willing to drop the gloves.

Kieser: Luke Schenn (8). Schenn has dropped the gloves seven times since last October, so why not one more this season? General manager Barry Trotz brought Schenn in to protect Josi; however, he’ll step in for his teammates when the time is right. Nashville needs an enforcer or two and since Tanner Jeannot was dealt to Tampa Bay; the Predators added Schenn to alleviate that concern.

Brewer: Jeremy Lauzon. Lauzon had an impressive preseason, and it was noticeable that he knew he was fighting for a spot. No pun intended. His physicality and willingness to stick up for his teammates is a strong part of Lauzon’s game. He learned a lot from playing alongside Mark Borowiecki. I look for Lauzon to seek to fill that void now that Borowiecki has retired.

First Predators forward called up

Gallagher: Joakim Kemell. My head initially said Egor Afanasyev, but with him starting the year of season-opening injured reserve (SOIR), my money is on Kemell should the Predators need some injury help. He displayed an NHL-ready shot during the preseason and has all the makings of an elite scorer.

Kieser: Egor Afanasyev. After a solid camp, Afanasyev looked like a fit with the nightly NHLers being quick on pucks and fitting into the new offense. He may have been a late call up last season, but seeing what he’s done as a leader too speaks volumes about what he can add to the lineup.

Brewer: Denis Gurianov. It was quite the shock to me that Gurianov was waived this week, so I fully anticipate him being the first recall in the event he uses this time to focus on himself and get back. Trotz is taking a leap of faith with the younger players in the roster, but Gurianov’s scoring potential could be tempting around November.

First Predators defenseman called up

Gallagher: Jake Livingstone. While Spencer Stastney, Marc Del Gaizo and Adam Wilsby each could have a case here, Livingstone plays better in transition, he offers more upside as a scorer, and he’s more sound defensively in his ability to take away space and close off shooting lanes.

Kieser: Spencer Stastney. Players need to be quick in Brunette’s system, and this is a no-brainer to me. Stastney saw some NHL time last season and didn’t have many issues getting used to the style of play. His skating can get him out of trouble, but as a backup, Livingstone would fit well being a stout two-way puck-moving defenseman.

Brewer: Marc Del Gaizo. He fits exactly into what Brunette is seeking to implement. Obviously, recalls are based on need, so it will depend on who is injured, but Del Gaizo has the ability to become that offensive threat that the Brunette style of play craves.

Predators player most likely traded at or before the trade deadline?

Gallagher: Tyson Barrie. While Barrie fits Brunette’s new philosophy perfectly, he’s always seemed like a trade chip for a future date. With Nashville stockpiling draft capital since the beginning of 2023, Barrie could easily be flipped to a contender for a first- or second-round pick and more before this year’s deadline and open up another spot for Livingstone, Stastney or Del Gaizo.

Kieser: Gustav Nyquist. While he may have just gotten settled in Nashville, and with Gurianov going through waivers to start the season, Nyquist is the more attractive asset to move to a contender. The 34-year-old winger still has some pop to his shot and knows where to be for prime scoring opportunities.

Brewer: Tyson Barrie. He is in the last year of his deal and is an offensive-minded defenseman that can add that extra firepower on the backend for a contender.

Number of starts for Juuse Saros

Gallagher: 65. Saros has started 67 and 63 games, respectively, over the last two seasons. So, why not split the difference this year? Kevin Lankinen is a solid backup more than capable of starting 20-plus games if needed. But Saros has admitted he wants to play as much as the coaches will let him, and if he’s playing like he’s capable of, why sit him unless he’s injured?

Kieser: 65. He’ll still be relied on like no other this season unless Lankinen steps in due to an injury. Saros said he doesn’t think about his workload and leaves it to the coaches, but by all means, give this net-minder the second-most starts he’s seen in his career, and perhaps the Predators make the playoffs.

Brewer: 60. Saros has played over 60 games in the last two seasons, so I do not anticipate that trend ending this season. But he does need more rest. Sixty games is likely the sweet spot, letting Lankinen take the other 22 as a very capable backup.

Number of wins for Saros

Gallagher: 36. Saros’ career high win total is 38, and he did that in 67 starts. The Predators roster is a real wild card, meaning they could be equally as good as they could be bad, and Saros may have to drag them to some wins. But there’s no reason to expect his skill to drop off whether or not the offense is good or bad.

Kieser: 37. Quite the called shot having Saros go 37-20-8 between the pipes, but if the Finnish goalie is to give his team a chance, there’s more of a likelihood he gets close to the 40-win threshold. Going to overtimes or shootouts seems more like what the Predators will do this season with a younger roster.

Brewer: 36.

Will Saros be a Vezina finalist?

Gallagher: Yes. After finishing fourth for the award this year and being a finalist the year before, Saros should be right there in contention again this season. He’s consistently among the league’s best in save percentage, goals-against average and saves above expected, and with Brunette’s new puck-attacking system, he might actually have more help if the Predators play with the puck more than they have in year’s past.

Kieser: Yes. The third-best in the league, at that. Ilya Sorokin and Igor Shesterkin are more likely than not to pick up 40 wins or more as their squads are prepared to have more success this season. Saros could even have the most goals saved above excepted again, but ultimately a more successful regular season goalie will win it.

Brewer: Yes. He’s long overdue for this award. If Nashville is to have success this year, Saros will need to be on his game.

Predators win total

Gallagher: 44. The Predators are likely a fringe playoff team. They nearly made the playoffs last season (42 wins, 92 points) while playing with a mostly AHL roster for the last month plus, so it’s not inconceivable they could nearly do it again this year with a similar lineup, a healthy Forsberg and Josi, plus the additions of O’Reilly, Nyquist and Schenn.

Kieser: 45. Nashville may make a surprising run at the postseason with Trotz and Brunette in their first year. The St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild are more playoff-ready teams with Nashville right on the cusp. It could spark something greater for the next year or two as the Predators develop back into a playoff team.

Brewer: 47. Vegas set Nashville’s point total at around 87.5. The main question is whether or not the players can lean in and successfully execute Brunette’s system. This team can turn a lot of heads this season and compete for a playoff spot if they figure these things out. The goaltending is top level, so can the defense fill the gaps as they implement a new system and can the offense take advantage of a more, open style?

Predicted order of finish for Central


  1. Colorado Avalanche
  2. Dallas Stars
  3. Minnesota Wild
  4. Winnipeg Jets
  5. Nashville Predators
  6. Arizona Coyotes
  7. St. Louis Blues
  8. Chicago Blackhawks


  1. Dallas Stars
  2. Colorado Avalanche
  3. Minnesota Wild
  4. St. Louis Blues
  5. Nashville Predators
  6. Winnipeg Jets
  7. Chicago Blackhawks
  8. Arizona Coyotes


  1. Dallas Stars
  2. Colorado Avalanche
  3. Minnesota Wild
  4. Nashville Predators
  5. Arizona Coyotes
  6. Winnipeg Jets
  7. St. Louis Blues
  8. Chicago Blackhawks

Atlantic Division winner

Gallagher: Toronto Maple Leafs

Kieser: Toronto Maple Leafs

Brewer: Toronto Maple Leafs

Metro Division winner

Gallagher: Carolina Hurricanes

Kieser: New Jersey Devils

Brewer: Carolina Hurricanes

Pacific Division winner

Gallagher: Los Angeles Kings

Kieser: Los Angeles Kings

Brewer: Edmonton Oilers

Central Division winner

Gallagher: Colorado Avalanche

Kieser: Dallas Stars

Brewer: Dallas Stars

Eastern Conference champion

Gallagher: Carolina Hurricanes

Kieser: Carolina Hurricanes

Brewer: New Jersey Devils

Western Conference champion

Gallagher: Colorado Avalanche

Kieser: Edmonton Oilers

Brewer: Edmonton Oilers

Stanley Cup champion

Gallagher: Colorado Avalanche

Kieser: Edmonton Oilers

Brewer: New Jersey Devils

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