While the hot, sunny Nashville weather may not show it, October is just hours away - and the start of the 2019-20 NHL season is close behind.
As the first official puck drop dawns upon Music City, the spirit of Smashville revitalizes. Meanwhile, David Poile finalizes his NHL and AHL rosters for the 21st time as General Manager of the Nashville Predators.
On Episode 54 of the Predators Official Podcast, Poile couldn't help but poke fun at the fact.
"Is 20 years a long time?"
Poile let his guard down for one joke, but from then on out, he was all-business. He discussed the new-look Predators roster, explaining what they hoped to accomplish in the offseason.
"I'm a lucky guy to have this job," Poile said. "Every day is different. I say that when I get up. But I think I'm an organized guy, I know what I want to do and what I want to accomplish."
Surely enough, Poile knew exactly what he wanted to get done before this season began.
And he executed.
"The biggest change that we had hoped to make in the offseason was to improve our offense," Poile said. "The hope was that we could bring basically two No. 1 lines to our arsenal… If we can come up with a second line that produces more offense than we have in the last couple of years, we're going to be a tough team to beat."
Poile dealt defenseman P.K. Subban in a tactical trade for the Predators front office. The freed up cap space from the trade was a crucial part of his game plan, as it allowed the Predators to sign a key free agent in Matt Duchene.
"First of all, off ice, I think [Duchene has] been terrific in terms of how he's already engaged with our community and with the media," Poile said. "On the ice, he has not disappointed at all. He brings tremendous speed, he's scored, and has been involved offensively in every game he's played… We want to be a little more dangerous in our offense, and I think Duchene holds the key to that."
With the signing of such a high-caliber player, Predators Head Coach Peter Laviolette is tasked with creating lines as he sees fit. Luckily, assembling two strong offensive units shouldn't be too difficult with such a deep, talented roster.
In the preseason, Duchene was frequently accompanied by Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund on the wings. While on the podcast, Poile confirmed Laviolette will continue experimenting with the lines in the beginning of the season, hoping to find the perfect combination - even if it means rearranging previously successful trios.
Duchene had a prosperous preseason playing alongside Forsberg. If the duo continues to shine in the regular season, Laviolette would willingly disassemble the Johansen, Arvidsson and Forsberg line from years past in exchange for another top-notch group.
Poile's goal was not merely limited to two strong offensive units; rather, he wanted to improve the Predators' ability to score goals. That includes the power-play unit as well, which experienced change in the form of a new assistant coach. Dan Lambert, who has had plenty of power-play success in his coaching career, has injected new life into Nashville's man advantage.
"Dan's a new voice, and he's got a new thought process," Poile said. "We had a 100-point season, we won our division, and we had the worst power play in the League… We all know we have the talent to be successful on the power play, and I think Dan comes in with a new voice, a great track record of success at every level that he's coached hockey, so he brings in a winning formula. I think we're asking the players to pay attention, to change a little bit… We've scored goals on the power play, and at this point, we'll be happy if we're able to carry this into the regular season. That's got to be a big plus for us."
Only time will tell if their power-play units and offensive capabilities can continue to thrive in the regular season, but if the preseason serves as any indication, Smashville has a lot to look forward to in the months to come.
"We have a really good team again… I'm really hopeful we'll be a playoff team," Poile said. "And if we get to that point, I have hope this is our year when we get in the playoffs."
Click here to listen to Poile's full interview here on Episode 54 of the Predators Official Podcast.