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30 in 30

Inside look at Nashville Predators

P.K. Subban adds to speed in attempt to reach conference final for first time

by Robby Stanley / Correspondent is providing in-depth roster, prospect and fantasy analysis for each of its 30 teams throughout August. Today, the Nashville Predators.

The Nashville Predators made no secret this offseason about their plans to compete for a Stanley Cup, grabbing headlines with the acquisition of defenseman P.K. Subban from the Montreal Canadiens in a trade for defenseman Shea Weber on June 29.

It highlighted an offseason when the Predators focused on getting younger and faster, with Subban's skating ability adding to an already mobile defense.

"There's no question that I'm head-over-heels excited about this opportunity to play here in Nashville," Subban said. "I'm excited about our team, I'm excited about this city, and I'm most importantly excited about the opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. That's what this is all about. Coming here is not a popularity contest. Coming here is about helping this team to win, and win a championship. That's what I'm here to do."

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The Predators believe the NHL has been trending to more of a speed game the past few seasons, a formula that was used by the Pittsburgh Penguins last season to win the Stanley Cup.

"You know, the one thing that coming out of the [Stanley Cup Playoffs], our own experience and watching the playoffs move forward, is the teams that can generate the most speed and can generate the most skill and most speed have the best chance of being successful," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said.

The Predators secured a core piece of their future when they signed restricted free agent forward Filip Forsberg to a six-year, $36 million contract on June 27. The 22-year-old has led them in scoring in each of the past two seasons and tied the Nashville record with 33 goals last season (Jason Arnott, 2008-09).

Nashville did not re-sign veteran center Paul Gaustad and bought out forward Eric Nystrom. Veteran defenseman Barret Jackman also was bought out and was replaced with free agent defensemen Yannick Weber (one year, $575,000) and Matt Carle (one year, $700,000).

Video: 30 in 30: Nashville Predators 2016-17 season preview

General manager David Poile did his part to build what, on paper, could arguably be the best team in Predators history. His focus on a quicker team, and the offensive system in place under Laviolette, could make this season very successful.

"I hope it says we're trying to win," Poile said. "I think what we've done in the last year and the last two years under [Laviolette] is we've made great progress, both in the fact that we went the furthest that we ever have in the playoffs, but also I keep referring to the change in style and trying to be more offensive."

The Predators qualified for the playoffs the past two seasons and advanced to Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round last year, losing to the San Jose Sharks. Nashville will try again to reach the conference final for the first time.

"Our team is going to benefit from going to the second round and getting that feeling and knowing what it's like," defenseman Mattias Ekholm said at the end of last season. "I think we're just going to get better [in 2016-17], and I'm looking forward to it."

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