Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile and Head Coach Peter Laviolette addressed the media on Wednesday morning in their annual end-of-season press conference.
Full video of the press conference, in two parts, is available below, but as for the highlights:
A high-ankle sprain forced forward Craig Smith to miss 10 playoff games.
Colin Wilson dealt with a hamstring injury, which caused him to miss the First Round and part of the Stanley Cup Final.
James Neal broke his hand in Game One of the Western Conference Final, but later returned in the contest to score the game-winning goal at 9:24 of overtime. Poile said Neal had to have his hand "shot up" before every game just to be able to play.
Defenseman Ryan Ellis was dealing with a "serious injury" in Game Six of the Stanley Cup Final, and Poile said the team should have a further update next week after Ellis undergoes further medical evaluation.
Video: GM David Poile gives final recap on 2016-17 season
Ryan Johansen and Kevin Fiala Ahead of Schedule:
In likely the most important news of the press conference, Poile revealed that Ryan Johansen (thigh injury) and Kevin Fiala (broken femur) are both ahead of schedule in the recovery process. Johansen was estimated to be out for two to three months following surgery in late May, but is now expected to resume skating in two to three weeks. Poile said the doctors caring for Fiala have never seen an individual progress at the rate the forward currently is and both Fiala and Johansen are expected to be ready for Preds Training Camp, which opens Sept. 14 in Nashville.
Poile still expects the Predators to be forced to expose some of the best players available to the Vegas Golden Knights for the Expansion Draft on June 21. The GM and Predators staff have still not decided which protection method (either the eight players and one goalie or seven forwards, three defenseman and one goalie) that they will employ. Each NHL team's Protection List is due this Saturday, with the lists expected to be made public by the NHL on Sunday.
Vegas will select one player - and one player only - from each of the other 30 NHL clubs. Poile says he's already had conversations - and will continue to have them - with Golden Knights GM George McPhee on working out a trade that would benefit both parties and allow the Preds to keep players that they can't technically protect.
Video: Poile, Laviolette field questions on 2016-17 season
Note that NashvillePredators.com will have full coverage for each of these events:
New Adidas home jerseys will be unveiled at an event in Las Vegas on June 20.
NHL Awards is June 21. Poile is a finalist for General Manager of the Year.
Expansion Draft is also June 21.
NHL Draft in Chicago is June 23-24. The Predators are scheduled to make their first pick at No. 30 overall in the First Round on Friday night. Rounds 2-7 will take place on Saturday.
Predators Rookie Development Camp in Nashville is June 26 to July 3.
Preds Annual Prospect Game at Ford Ice Center is June 30. Tickets may be purchased with a $5 donation to the Ford Ice Scholarship Fund by clicking here.
Preds Rookie Camp opens on Sept. 7 in Nashville.
Predators Training Camp starts on Sept. 14 in Nashville.
Contract Negotiations and the Future:
Poile expects to hear the official salary cap number for the 2017-18 season by Friday. He anticipates the number will likely be flat ($73 million) with the possibility it goes up by no more than five percent.
The Predators' full contract status may be seen by clicking here. Notable restricted free agents for the Preds include: Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, Austin Watson, Pontus Aberg, Frederick Gaudreau and Marek Mazanec. Poile indicated he anticipates to begin speaking with Johansen's and Arvidsson's agents about new contracts for the forwards in Chicago during the weekend of the NHL Draft.
Notable unrestricted free agents for Nashville: Mike Fisher, Vernon Fiddler, P.A. Parenteau, Harry Zolnierczyk and Brad Hunt. Poile echoed Fisher's comments from yesterday, saying that the Preds captain will be given time to consider his future in the NHL before both parties decide how to move forward.
Laviolette said he expects Aberg and Gaudreau to compete for full-time roster spots on the 2017-18 roster - that his eyes were opened to their abilities during the 2017 postseason - but that neither player is a lock for the Opening Roster, and "they still have to put the work in."
Top Quotes and Notes from the Predators Most Memorable Season to Date: