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Looking ahead for the Predators: To stay the course, or not stay the course

Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports

As each NHL team is eliminated from playoff contention -- either mathematically or by losing in the postseason -- we'll take a look at why its quest for the Stanley Cup fell short in 2018-19, along with three keys to its offseason, impact prospects for 2019-20 and a way-too-early prediction for what next season will hold.


What went wrong

The Nashville Predators won the Central Division title for the second consecutive season, but something feels stale in Tennessee. General manager David Poile knows his team should be a contender and -- once again -- made big moves ahead of the trade deadline to bolster an already talented squad.

And yet, most of the transactions over the past two seasons haven't equated to victories. In fact, most of the moves haven't really worked out at all. Ryan Hartman, for whom the Predators traded a first-round pick at the 2018 deadline, is already gone. Kyle Turris hasn't produced as well as the No. 2 center as Nashville had hoped. Wayne Simmonds and Mikael Granlund haven't excited anyone. Maybe the problem isn't with the ancillary pieces after all, but with the core.

Nashville had to withstand significant injuries to begin the season, and perhaps that messed with its juju. But there's no excuses for a power play as putrid as the one Nashville trotted out for the regular season (last in the league, at 12.9 percent), one that was even worse in the postseason (0-for-15). And beyond that, the Predators just couldn't match the Dallas Stars' intensity in the playoffs.

When things go wrong, it's always pertinent to ask a fundamental question: Was it coaching or construction? It's impossible to pinpoint just one and -- especially considering the regular-season success -- it's hard to imagine either coach Peter Laviolette or Poile is on a hot seat right now. Also factoring in to this discussion is the latter's history; Poile has fired just one coach in the past 20 seasons.