The band is (almost) back together.
Filip Forsberg and Mattias Ekholm joined their Nashville Predators teammates on the ice during Friday's practice at Centennial Sportsplex after returning from representing Sweden in the World Cup of Hockey.
With the addition of the two Swedes, that makes defenseman Roman Josi of Team Europe - who fell in Game Two of the World Cup Final to Team Canada last night - as the last remaining Preds representative who hasn't returned to training camp yet.
Defensemen P.K. Subban and Ryan Ellis, who missed the start of camp with upper-body injuries, also skated with the full group for the first time. Good news for all involved.
In the case of Ekholm and Forsberg - who will both be in the lineup on Saturday when the Preds host the Tampa Bay Lightning in their first home preseason game of the campaign - the return to Nashville only brings a level of anticipation that has already been felt around the locker room during camp.
"We proved it to everyone last year what we're capable of," Forsberg said. "We didn't have the ending that we wanted, but at the same time, we all got a lot of experience from that. Now coming back with almost exactly the same team, and a few additions that look really good, the potential is unlimited, and it's going to be a lot of fun."
"Everyone's got one more year on their shoulders," Ekholm said. "We were a pretty young group mixed in with some veterans, and just the way we played in the playoffs, we should just be better. I think everyone has grown one more year, has some more experience and I think the expectation is obviously high within the group, so it's exciting."
Perhaps one of the most asked questions of the offseason has been answered - at least for a day or two.
On the ice together for the first time on Friday, P.K. Subban and Mattias Ekholm skated as a defensive pair during drills, and the two could get their first look as a duo in game action when the Preds host the Lightning Saturday night.
"It's just one day of practice; they'll play some exhibition games together and we'll look at it, and take a look at it when Roman [Josi] comes back too," Head Coach Peter Laviolette said of the Subban-Ekholm pair. "I'm sure we'll be able to sort it out… but it's just practice. We'll see what it looks like in games."
If the two indeed find themselves together more often than not in the coming days and weeks, it's a match that both parties have no qualms about whatsoever.
"He's a world-class defenseman," Ekholm said of Subban. "He talks a lot out there, he can skate well, he can carry the puck himself, and I liked it. It's the first practice; I don't know if that's going to be the case, but if that's so, I definitely like it. I think he's one of the better defenseman in the League, so it's obviously pretty easy to play with him."
"He's a great player," Subban said of Ekholm. "He's mobile, he's big, he's got a good stick and he makes plays in all areas and all situations on the ice. It's great having a partner like that. I've had some great partners in the past, but he's definitely right up there with the best that I've played with… I'm not sure exactly what the partners are going to become in the regular season, but I'm happy to be playing with him, and I think that training camp is going to be used for us to get a feel for each other and build on that."
The Preds signed 2016 third-round pick Frederic Allard to a three-year, entry level contract on Friday. The 18-year-old defenseman has played the last three seasons with the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL.