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Team Reset

Predators improve center depth with Duchene signing

Add free agent, trade Subban to Devils in offseason shakeup

by Robby Stanley / NHL.com Correspondent

After the NHL Draft, free agency and other offseason moves, NHL.com is taking a look at where each team stands. Today, the Nashville Predators:

The Nashville Predators shook things up this offseason by signing free agent forward Matt Duchene and trading defenseman P.K. Subban to the New Jersey Devils.

They did so after winning the Central Division the past two seasons followed by two quick exits from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, including a six-game loss to the Dallas Stars in the 2019 Western Conference First Round.

"I'm optimistic," Predators general manager David Poile said July 1. "With [Ryan Johansen] and Duchene and Kyle Turris at center ice, this should give us the best chance to be much better offensively than we were last year and hopefully will make a difference in getting us into the playoffs and hopefully will make a difference for us having success in the playoffs."

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

Nashville also signed forward Daniel Carr, who was named most valuable player of the American Hockey League after he had 71 points (30 goals, 41 assists) for Chicago, and acquired defenseman Steven Santini in the Subban trade. Forward Wayne Simmonds did not return, and center Brian Boyle is an unrestricted free agent.

Here is what the Predators look like today:

 

Key arrivals

Matt Duchene, F: The Predators plan to use the 28-year-old at center in their top six. Duchene had 70 points (31 goals, 39 assists) in 73 games with the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets last season, which would have made him Nashville's leading scorer ahead of Johansen (64 points; 14 goals, 50 assists). ... Dan Lambert, assistant coach: He joins Dan Muse and Kevin McCarthy on coach Peter Laviolette's staff and will try to improve a power play that was last in the NHL (12.9 percent). Lambert will also have input in the offensive systems at even strength. He coached Spokane in the Western Hockey League the past two seasons and was an assistant for the Buffalo Sabres in 2015-16.

Video: Duchene talks Nashville, past coaches, "offside" goal

 

Key departures

P.K. Subban, D: The 30-year-old was traded June 22, which allowed the Predators to have enough roster flexibility to sign Duchene. Subban had 130 points (35 goals, 95 assists) in three seasons with Nashville. ... Brian Boyle, F: The 34-year-old was acquired from the Devils before the 2019 NHL Trade Deadline and scored five goals in 26 games. ... Wayne Simmonds, F: The 30-year-old, acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Flyers on Feb. 25, signed with New Jersey on July 1 after he had three points (one goal, two assists) in 17 games for the Predators.

Video: Predators' offseason outlook following Subban trade

 

On the cusp

Dante Fabbro, D: The 21-year-old is projected to be a top-four defenseman to begin the season in a pair with Roman Josi or Mattias Ekholm. Chosen in the first round (No. 16) of the 2016 NHL Draft, Fabbro scored one goal in four regular-season games and had one assist in six playoff games for Nashville last season. ... Eeli Tolvanen, F: The Predators believe the 20-year-old has the potential to develop into a top-six forward. Tolvanen, selected with the No. 30 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, had 35 points (15 goals, 20 assists) in 58 games for Milwaukee of the AHL last season and two points (one goal, one assist) in four games with Nashville.

Video: CHI@NSH: Fabbro picks the corner for first NHL goal

 

What they still need

The Predators feel good about their forward group after signing Duchene but could use more firepower at wing.

 

Fantasy focus

The signing of Duchene could finally lead to a full-fledged fantasy breakout for left wing Filip Forsberg. Although Forsberg has had top-line placement with Johansen and right wing Viktor Arvidsson in recent seasons, he has never put it all together over a full regular season because of injuries and/or performance trends. Forsberg has scored at least 26 goals in each of his five full NHL seasons (including 28 in 64 games last season) and should put forth his best numbers if he sticks with Duchene at even strength and the duo helps Nashville's power play bounce back. -- Pete Jensen

Video: CBJ@NSH: Forsberg roofs rebound to trim deficit

 

Projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Mikael Granlund -- Matt Duchene -- Craig Smith

Colton Sissons -- Kyle Turris -- Rocco Grimaldi

Calle Jarnkrok -- Nick Bonino -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- Dante Fabbro

Dan Hamhuis -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

Photo credit: John Russell/Nashville Predators

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