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Predators have made ‘great progress’ and now look to take the next step

Ryan Johansen

Nashville Predators center Ryan Johansen (92) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the first period of an NHL hockey game on Friday, Jan. 8, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/Joe Mahoney)


The Nashville Predators haven’t been afraid of making some bold moves in recent months.

And that line of thinking could put them in line with the Blues, Blackhawks and Stars in competing for the Central Division next season.

Trading captain Shea Weber to Montreal for defenseman P.K. Subban was only the latest example. (Habs GM Marc Bergevin had some interesting comments on the controversial blockbuster deal.)

It really started with trading defenseman Seth Jones -- a right-shooting defenseman still not even 22 years old -- to Columbus in exchange for Ryan Johansen, as the Predators were able to pick up a first-line center that turns 24 years old at the end of July and has one more year left on his current contract before he’s a restricted free agent.

It continued with a run into the second round of the playoffs and one win shy of a trip to the Western Conference Final.

That’s a decent run. But the Predators haven’t been content.

“I hope it says we’re trying to win,” Predators GM David Poile told the Tennessean.

“I think what we’ve done in the last year and the last two years under (coach Peter Laviolette) is we’ve made great progress. … You know the direction we’re trying to do. We’re trying to win. And we’re in the entertainment business. We’re trying to put on a good show for our fans. I like our makeup.”

That reiterates his message from May, when he said the Predators were going “in the right direction.”

Since then, the Predators have given a long-term contract (six years, $36 million) for Filip Forsberg, who had 33 goals and 64 points last season, and moved on from veterans Barret Jackman and Eric Nystrom, opening up additional cap space.

Their moves have also made the Predators a younger team. Their current roster lists only three players over the age of 30, and one of those is goalie Pekka Rinne.

Bold moves. And they should serve notice to the Western Conference.