Preds say good-bye to season and look to the summer

(Photo by: John Russell/Getty Images)

The Nashville Predators closed out their season Saturday night with a 3-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Nashville finished their season 14th in the Western Conference with a record of 16-23-9.

Sunday, the players, coaches and management met with the media to discuss the season and what happened in this disappointing season.

Looking at the stats for this season, the Predators were last in goals for with 111 goals in 48 games. That comes out to an average of 2.31 goals per game. General Manager David Poile pointed out when addressing the media that the Predators succeeded when scoring three goals a game and didn't when they scored only two.

"We scored two or less goals in 27 of the 48 games," said Poile. "In those games we were 3-17-7. When we reached three goals, we were 13-6-2."

"3-2 games are a winning formula for Predators' hockey."

Scoring is still a problem with this team, despite acquiring Filip Forsberg at the trade deadline and suffering injuries to the top six guys. Poile knows they should acquire more dynamic forwards. He mentioned that since the salary cap is lowering, teams who are towards the ceiling will look to dump off a few players and Nashville could be their landing spot because of the wiggle room they have.

After losing Martin Erat, the Predators were missing a veteran scorer in their lineup. In the offseason, they will look to replace Erat with another proven veteran like Pascal Dupuis, Jarome Iginla or Michael Ryder.

Brandon Yip, Chris Mueller and Chris Mason are unrestricted free agents this summer. It is possible that neither will return to the Preds next season. Barry Trotz was talking about Mason's best game nostalgically Saturday after stopping over forty shots in a loss. Mason could be retiring this summer at the age of 37.

Mason has quite the future in broadcasting once he does decide to end his hockey career though.

The Predators' restricted free agents include Patric Hornqvist, Nick Spaling, Matt Halischuk, Bobby Butler, Roman Josi, Jon Blum and Victor Bartley. Poile said Hornqvist and Josi are his top two priorities and would like to sign them sooner rather than later.

It is likely all of them will return with the possible exception to Jon Blum, who could be replaced next season by Ryan Ellis or Mattias Ekholm.

Assistant captain and one of the leaders on this team Mike Fisher realizes there will be some changes in this team by the time training camp starts in September. "I expect there to be a different group next year," said Fisher.

There will be some changes made to add depth at defense and scoring talent, but nothing too radical. Here are the next important dates this offseason.

Apr. 29: NHL Draft Lottery

May 3-19: World Championship -Sweden/Finland

June 30: NHL Draft in Newark, NJ

July 5: Free agency period begins

July 7-14: Conditioning Camp

September 4: Rookie/Development Camp

September 11: Training Camp


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