This year's end-of-season press conference, with Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile and Head Coach Peter Laviolette, had a different feel than previous editions.
Even considering the 2017 version, which took place exactly 11 months ago following the Preds' loss in the Stanley Cup Final, both the Predators GM and head coach stressed several times on Monday that they don't want to see big changes, they simply want a second shot at the Stanley Cup. Poile said that's not something he usually finds himself saying.
After falling in seven games to the second-place team from the 2017-18 regular season, the Winnipeg Jets, the Preds management and players are convinced the club's foundation is rock solid. With the vast majority of the team signed to long-term contracts and many of the players just now entering the prime of their careers, the Predators see a Stanley Cup in their not-so-distant future.
Full video of the press conference, in two parts, is available below, but here are the highlights:
Video: Poile, Laviolette want Preds core to get second shot
Mike Fisher injured his meniscus in Round Two. Poile said the 37-year-old forward potentially would have been able to return in the Stanley Cup Final if the Predators had qualified for it. Fisher confirmed his retirement on Saturday.
Ryan Hartman suffered a labral tear in his shoulder and played through the injury in the playoffs. The forward will undergo offseason surgery and is expected to need four to five months to recover. Poile said that recovery timeline could mean Hartman will miss some of training camp, which opens on Sept. 13, but the GM is hopeful Hartman will be ready for the start of the regular season.
Calle Jarnkrok never fully recovered from a shoulder injury suffered on March 13 in a game against the Winnipeg Jets. Poile said Jarnkrok is expected to make a full recovery during the offseason.
Contract Negotiations and Preds' 2018-19 Roster:
The sentiment from Monday's press conference was that the Predators' roster is not due for any major changes from what was used during the 2017-18 season.
That said, Poile mentioned veteran forward Scott Hartnell will not be offered another contract and Mike Fisher has retired again. The general manager also expects "seven of the Preds' eight defensemen to remain the same," with Alexei Emelin unlikely to return to the club next season. Fisher, Hartnell and Emelin are Nashville's three notable unrestricted free agents (on July 1).
Poile said the Preds will talk to Ryan Ellis, who has one year remaining on his contract and is eligible to sign a new, long-term deal after July 1, about a new deal this offseason.
Hartman, Miikka Salomaki and Juuse Saros make up the Predators' notable restricted free agents. The deadline to tender qualifying RFAs is June 25. Poile specially mentioned Hartman and Saros as having roles on the team next season.
Poile said Pekka Rinne and Saros will make up the Predators' goaltending tandem for the 2018-19 season. Rinne is entering the final year of a seven-year, $49 million contract.
Laviolette said Rinne should win the Vezina Trophy later this summer and will continue to be the Predators' No. 1 goaltender. The head coach also said the young and talented Saros will push for more starts during the 2018-19 regular season.
Poile wants to see Eeli Tolvanen earn a roster spot during training camp in September. Laviolette agrees, but added, the 19-year-old winger will need a successful summer of training and development for that goal to become a reality.
Video: Poile recaps NHL-best regular season, playoff loss
Click here to see the full offseason schedule. Note that NashvillePredators.com will have full coverage for each of these major events:
The 2018 NHL Awards come on June 20 in Las Vegas. Defenseman P.K. Subban is a finalist for both the Norris Trophy (top defenseman) and the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (leadership, charity). Goaltender Pekka Rinne has been named a Vezina Finalist (best goaltender) for the fourth time in his career.
The 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas is June 23-24. The Predators are scheduled to make their first pick in the Third Round on Saturday morning. Draft pick numbers will be determined following the conclusion of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Predators Rookie Development Camp in Nashville is June 25-29.
Preds Rookie Camp opens on Sept. 6 in Nashville.
Predators Training Camp starts on Sept. 13 in Nashville.
The Best Quotes and Notes from Monday's Press Conference: