The Nashville Predators begin the 2022-23 season with a back-to-back against the San Jose Sharks, starting Friday in Prague, Czech Republic.
The Preds are riding an eight-season playoff streak, though last year's first round sweep at the hands of the eventual Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche left a sour taste heading into the offseason.
Filip Forsberg re-signed in the offseason, and the team added defenseman Ryan McDonagh and forward Nino Niederreiter. Otherwise, the team's fortunes will be based on defenseman Roman Josi and goaltender Juuse Saros continuing their elite play.
Will the Predators make the playoffs again in 2022-23? Our experts weigh in:
POSTCARD FROM PRAGUE: Nashville Predators – and their fans – arrive in full force
Gentry Estes, sports columnist
Bold prediction: The Preds will win — at least — one playoff series this season. Not bold enough? It is considering it’ll have been five years since they last did it.
Why Predators will make postseason: Because they always seem to make it, for one. But more that this was the first offseason in a while in which their roster clearly improved.
Why Predators won’t make postseason: I think they will, but if they don’t, it’d probably be because highly paid forwards Matt Duchene and Filip Forsberg prove their 40-goal seasons to be an outlier by dropping off statistically.
Nick Gray, trending sports writer
Bold Prediction: Nino Niederreiter will lead the team in goals, ahead of the Preds’ $8 million forward trio of Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen.
Why the Predators will make the postseason: As long as Roman Josi continues to be one of the NHL’s best defensemen and Juuse Saros’ excellent play continues, the Preds will continue to make the playoffs.
Why the Predators won’t make the postseason: Can the Preds’ expensive forwards mentioned above be point producers, year in and year out, like last season? If they’re not, and it’s not a given, the Preds might still be a goal-scoring forward away.
Dani Mohr, trending sports writer
Bold prediction: A year after finishing third in the voting, Juuse Saros will win the Vezina Trophy.
Why Predators will make postseason: Weapons such as Filip Forsberg, Matt Duchene and defenseman Roman Josi will easily capitalize with the addition of veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh.
Why Predators won’t make postseason: If the weapons mentioned above don't find a consistent rhythm, it may be too much for Juuse Saros to handle.
Chris Thomas, South Region sports director
Bold prediction: The Predators will reach the Western Conference finals — and get swept.
Why Predators will make postseason: Offseason acquisition Nino Niederreiter is the type of tone-setting, gritty player coach John Hynes craves and might be the key to unlocking a different-looking team in Nashville.
Why Predators won't make postseason: If these Predators don't jell early, it could spell doom for their postseason streak. I wouldn't bank on that happening, unless Filip Forsberg takes a clear step back without benefit (and pressure) of being in a contract year.
This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Bold predictions for Nashville Predators as NHL season begins in Prague