Last Season – The most successful season in Preds history saw them win a playoff round for the first time. They finished 48-26-8 for 104 points. They beat the rival Red Wings in the first round before bowing out to the Coyotes in 5 games in Round 2.
Saying Goodbye – Ryan Suter, Jordin Tootoo, Andrei Kostitsyn, Francis Boullion, Anders Lindback, Alexander Radulov
Saying Hello – Scott Hannan, Chris Mason
Ready to Step In – Is this the year Ryan Ellis makes the jump from prospect to full time NHLer? His size is an issue but his playmaking and hockey sense should have him in Nashville for the year. Although a completely different player, he could fill the open spot vacated by Suter.
Look For A Bounce-back Season From – Sergei Kostitsyn has the skill to be a top-flight offensive player. He needs to be more consistent if he wants to continue to be a go-to player in Nashville. His brother being gone from the Preds could help him focus more on hockey than off-ice shenanigans.
Hardware Hopefuls – Shea Weber, Norris; Pekka Rinne, Vezina
Upside – The Predators are pretty well balanced and they have plenty of character players. Rinne is one of the league’s best goalies and most nights will be better than the player manning the pipes at the other end of the ice.
Downside – Nashville lost a lot of pure skill (although questionable heart) in Andrei Kostitsyn and Radulov. Perhaps it is addition by subtraction to the type of team the Preds want to ice, but that kind of talent cannot just be replaced.
2013 Prognosis – The Predators are definitely a playoff team. If either Ellis or Jonathan Blum can establish themselves as front-line defensemen, the loss of Suter can be somewhat mitigated but he still left a gaping hole. If Rinne gets hurt, the Preds would be in trouble. The safety net of Lindback is gone and Mason is a step back.