Josi TSI

There’s no getting around it: the Nashville Predators would rather be playing hockey right now.

As the team gathered at 501 Broadway on Tuesday to conduct exit interviews and clean out lockers before going their separate ways for the summer, that much was made glaringly apparent.

Nobody in the Predators camp was hiding the sting of a series-deciding shutout loss in Game 6 last week, nor were they bottling the disappointment knowing their first-round matchup against the Vancouver Canucks could have just as easily gone the other way.

Still, the Predators could not deny that there were just as many - if not more - reasons to keep their chins up and look to next season with optimism.

They knew, for instance, that they’d performed well above outside expectations, that making the playoffs was a victory in itself - one of no easy accomplishment.

They knew that while their season opened with a shaky 5-10-0 start, they reached April in lockstep with Head Coach Andrew Brunette’s blisteringly fast-paced system, their exhilarating 18-game point streak or the seemingly countless career performances throughout the lineup providing sufficient evidence.

So while they’d much rather still be competing for the Cup, the Predators know when they return for action in October, they’ll be even stronger.

Below are some of the top quotes from the Predators’ media availabilities on Tuesday:

Roman Josi on the accomplishments of the team this season:

“Just coming into this year, there were so many unknowns. We had a new coach, a new GM, a lot of new players, and obviously we didn't get a lot of credit from the outside. But our goal was always to make the playoffs as a team, and it wasn't easy. We started 5-10-0, we were pretty inconsistent in the beginning and had our ups and downs, but we found a way to come together as a team. Bruno believed in our team, believed in the system, and we kept playing the same way, we kept playing hard. And it was pretty cool to see the whole process, to see guys come together like that and end up making the playoffs and compete in the first round.”

Josi Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Filip Forsberg on positive changes headed into the 2023-24 season:

“Last year was obviously a season that nobody really wanted, but there were a lot of things that played into that. And I think that whatever happened over the summer was big for this franchise, obviously [Barry Trotz] coming in and making a lot of decisions and bringing guys here that clearly had a really big impact on our team this year. Playing with [Ryan O’Reilly] and [Gustav Nyquist] all year, we had such a good time together both on the ice, but also off the ice. They're great people and really good people for our group, leadership wise. And obviously, other people were added and other people came back and stepped their game up. So I think it was a really good year.”

Forsberg Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Juuse Saros on looking ahead to 2024-25:

“I think we're still hungry to take another step here and not be satisfied with this [outcome] either. So I think that's a good thing too, to have the hunger and the fire. And I think everybody's really excited for next year.”

Saros Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Ryan McDonagh on the series vs. Vancouver:

“It's still pretty hurtful. There were just so many missed opportunities, and unfortunately when you're on the losing side you only think of the opportunities you wish you had again and the regrets and the plays and the looks. We had the lead a lot in the series and gave some games up in dramatic fashion and that came down to be the difference, for sure. But to be right there neck-and-neck with a team that finished second in the West and was considered an elite team, I think we proved a lot for our group and we learned a lot too. So hopefully when we're in those scenarios again, next time we'll be better prepared and handle it better.”

McDonagh Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Luke Evangelista on his first full NHL campaign & his Stanley Cup Playoffs debut:

“I feel like I grew a lot this year. My game at the start of the year compared to the end was night and day, and I honestly felt like I was a bit of a different player. I did a lot of progressing and growing this year, which is what you hope for in your first year. It's not always going to be a straight line, there's going to be ups and downs. You’ve got to learn from the good and you’ve got to learn from the bad, and I think I did a pretty good job of that. I was able to have a good impact in the second half [of the season]. And those playoff games were a great experience for me. Obviously, I wish I could have produced more, I wish we could have won the series, it was right there. But I think in those playoff series, you’ve got to feel everything. You have to feel the highs and the lows, and we certainly did feel it all. So, [I had] my first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and hopefully learned from it and will just be better next time around.”

Evangelista Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Tommy Novak on his growth as a player through the regular season:

“I think I got a lot better. I think playing a whole season in the NHL is definitely a learning experience. And I think with experience a lot of people get better. So I think just having those games helped me feel more comfortable and focus on what I can do to bring to the team and what makes me successful throughout the season. I think finding more consistency will be big for me. And I feel like the coaches were great. We obviously played a different style of play this year, and maybe started a little bit shaky, but just learning this new style of play I think helped me a lot.”

Novak Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Cole Smith on personal development during the 2023-24 season:

“I learned that I'm growing and I'm becoming a better player every year. I think this year was obviously the best year that I've had. And when you keep growing you learn that you belong here, and that breeds confidence. And I think that confidence is key, especially in this League. I learned a lot about myself and was able to play this game at a pretty good level, so I'm excited [for next year].”

Smith Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Jason Zucker on joining the Predators at the Trade Deadline:

“It was great. And it was nice to be able to just switch the mindset into a winning culture, to a playoff culture and, at that time, get ready to chase down the playoffs and hopefully go on a bit of a run. So it was nice to come into that and I was very fortunate that the guys were very welcoming. And I was just trying to learn the system as quickly as possible and trying to contribute in any way I could.”

Zucker Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Kiefer Sherwood on forging an identity with his linemates:

“That was something that when we reflect back on will be really special to me, to have that camaraderie and an identity line that the team can kind of rely on to lead the charge and momentum and energy and all that stuff. It's the little things, right? You preach culture, you preach momentum and energy during games. And to kind of lead the charge with those guys was something that was fun, and I would love to continue to build on that. Those guys are great players and I think over time, we were able to help each other out.”

Sherwood Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Kevin Lankinen on his development with Nashville:

“There's lots of different areas, I think I could be here for an hour talking about that. In a nutshell, I think I learned so much from our goalie coach, Ben Vanderklok. Even Juice, watching him every day and skating with him every day. I think he's one of the best goalies in the world, and he's been there for many years. And [I’m] trying to reach that standard and be there myself one day. So, I think that's been huge having those two guys as your pillars to lean on and learn from. So, it’s been awesome.”

Lankinen Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Cody Glass on improvements over the summer:

“I was going through my meetings and I was sick to my stomach that I couldn’t play, and it’s my own doing. It's tough and it's something I don't want to have to talk about, and I wish I could be standing here proud and saying I did everything I could. I’m going to make sure that this never happens again, and it's going to be a big summer. I have one year left on my deal, and this is very important to me. Hockey has been my life for so long and this is what I want to do, and I want to have fun doing it.”

Glass Speaks to Media at the End of the Season

Alexandre Carrier on his chemistry with Jeremy Lauzon:

“It made a huge difference. Obviously, we got lucky enough to play maybe 60 games together. It's rare as a D-pairing to always have the same guy, and now you come back to the bench and you know what he's going to do and we can talk about plays and stuff like that. But I think the relationship we have outside the rink, it comes out on the ice too. Like I said, come back to the bench and talk, have fun together. Hopefully they don't get too sick of us always being together. But we're trying to make each other better. So, if I can help him somehow I try to tell him and he does the same the other way around. So, it's been great.”

Carrier Speaks to Media at the End of the Season