This is about to be a fun season for the Nashville Predators.
After several years of seemingly teetering between contending for the Stanley Cup and nearly missing out on the playoffs, the Predators have chosen a direction.
The acquisition of defenseman Ryan McDonagh was the move that made Nashville’s ambitions to compete for the Cup clear, and so far this offseason, the team has done well to continue bolstering its chances of returning to the Stanley Cup Final.
If the Preds have any hope to win the Western Conference for the first time since 2017, it will hinge on their ability to defend. Luckily for them, they’re poised to have one of the best defenses in the NHL this season.
The Predators will have one of the league’s top defenses in 2022-2023.
In the 2021-2022 season, Nashville ranked 15th in defense, allowing three goals per game. However, several young players took a step forward, and if they continue on that trajectory, the Preds could be very difficult to score on.
That starts with goaltender Juuse Saros, who started a career-high 67 games last season. In his career, he owns a 2.54 goals against average (GAA) and a .920 save percentage. He showed his ability to backstop this team, and he’ll look to continue that when the season begins in October.
In front of him will be Roman Josi, who was arguably the league’s best defenseman last year. While he probably won’t score 96 points again, the 32-year-old Predators captain has shown no signs of slowing down. McDonagh and Mattias Ekholm join him as veterans on the blue line.
As far as young defensemen go, the Preds should feel comfortable with 25-year-old Alexandre Carrier, who is coming off a 30-point performance in his first full NHL season, and 24-year-old Dante Fabbro, who tallied 24 points. Carrier led Nashville in plus-minus as a plus-26.
Perhaps the only hole in the defense is the right side of the third pair. Jeremy Lauzon, who was acquired from the Seattle Kraken at the trade deadline, could occupy that spot, or the Predators could go out and sign a veteran to fill that role.
No matter what adjustments Nashville chooses to make, teams that play the Predators can expect to have a tough time scoring thanks to the experience, skill, and potential that the Preds boast defensively.