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Team Reset

Predators keep roster intact; Tolvanen could help depth at forward

Have not added player after losing veterans Fisher, Hartnell

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 are bringing back largely the same roster in an attempt to return to the Stanley Cup Final for the second time in three seasons.

The Predators lost to the Winnipeg Jets in seven games in the Western Conference Second Round last season after losing the Stanley Cup Final to the Pittsburgh Penguins the season before.

 

[RELATED: Complete Team Reset coverage]

 

Nashville didn't make any moves in free agency and did not have a pick until the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft.

Here is what the Predators look like today:

 

Key arrivals

None

 

Key departures

Mike Fisher, F: The 38-year-old came out of retirement last season and spent the majority of his time at center on the fourth line in 16 regular-season games and 12 Stanley Cup Playoff games, then retired again after the Predators were eliminated. … Scott Hartnell, F: The 36-year-old is an unrestricted free agent after he had 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in 62 games last season. … Alexei Emelin, D: The Predators elected not to re-sign Emelin, 32, after one season because they felt comfortable with the depth they have at defenseman. Emelin had nine points in 76 games last season and did not score in 10 playoff games. He is a UFA.

Video: TOR@NSH: Hartnell buries Fisher's beautiful feed

 

On the cusp

Eeli Tolvanen, F: The 19-year-old signed an entry-level contract with the Predators last season and played three NHL games but struggled to create room to shoot and did not have a point. If he can adjust to the North American-sized rink and perform well in training camp, he could have a top-six role, which would create depth at forward and perhaps move Kevin Fiala or Craig Smith to the third line. Tolvanen was selected by Nashville in the first round (No. 30) of the 2017 NHL Draft and set Kontinental Hockey League under-19 records with 19 goals and 36 points in 49 games with Jokerit last season. ... Frederick Gaudreau, F: The 25-year-old played 20 NHL games last season and had three assists. He scored three goals in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins but couldn't break through on a full-time basis last season, when he had 43 points (22 goals, 21 assists) in 54 games for Milwaukee of the American Hockey League. … Emil Pettersson, F: The 24-year-old completed his first season with Milwaukee, had 46 points (13 goals, 33 assists) in 72 games, and showed playmaking ability. Pettersson likely will begin the season in Milwaukee but could get a long look at training camp. He was selected by the Predators in the sixth round (No. 155) of the 2013 NHL Draft. … Alexandre Carrier, D: He had a down season with Milwaukee, with 28 points (four goals, 24 assists) and a minus-14 rating in 73 games after an impressive 2016-17 season when he played two games for the Predators and had 39 points (six goals, 33 assists) in 72 games with Milwaukee. With the depth the Predators have at defenseman, Carrier, who turns 22 on Oct. 8, likely will begin the season with Milwaukee but could be the first call-up if a defenseman is injured.

 

What they still need

The Predators could use a forward who can drive to the net and create traffic. They haven't had a player who could do that consistently since they traded Patric Hornqvist to the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 27, 2014. Their skilled forwards, with the exception of Filip Forsberg (6-foot-1, 205 pounds), don't have the size to muscle their way to the net on a consistent basis. If the Predators could add a bigger forward who could play on the power play, they would have a good mixture of skill, speed and size.

 

Fantasy focus 

If there's a third defenseman on a particular roster worth reaching for in fantasy drafts, it's Ryan Ellis, who's ranked behind P.K. Subban and Roman Josi in the overall landscape but extremely valuable when healthy. Ellis, who's entering a contract year (potential 2019 unrestricted free agent), didn't make his season debut until Jan. 2 after having knee surgery last offseason, but only elite defensemen Brent Burns (27) and Erik Karlsson (26) had more even-strength points at the position than Ellis (24) from that date to the end of the regular season. Ellis had 32 points (nine goals, 23 assists) in the 44-game span and was plus-26. Ellis plays on the first pair with Josi and sees significant power-play time, making him a fringe top 100 overall player (No. 112 in NHL.com). -- Pete Jensen

Video: WPG@NSH, Gm7: Subban blasts one-timer for PPG

 

Projected lineup

Filip Forsberg -- Ryan Johansen -- Viktor Arvidsson

Kevin Fiala -- Kyle Turris -- Eeli Tolvanen

Colton Sissons -- Nick Bonino -- Craig Smith

Ryan Hartman -- Calle Jarnkrok -- Austin Watson

Roman Josi -- Ryan Ellis

Mattias Ekholm -- P.K. Subban

Matt Irwin -- Yannick Weber

Pekka Rinne

Juuse Saros

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