The Nashville Predators released their preseason schedule for the upcoming 2016-17 season. The team will play the usual suspects in the six-game slate against the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets. The exhibition slate will start on Sept. 27 with a doubleheader at the BB&T Center. The first game will start a 3:30 p.m. ET and the nightcap will be at 7 p.m.
Some will immediately brush these games off with the old “It’s just preseason. It won’t count for anything,” mantra. However, the exhibition schedule does hold some meaning. The games allow for fringe players to make their case for a roster spot and help the club sharpen things like special teams.
There might be a few missing faces due to the World Cup of Hockey going on at the same time, but this will also give younger players a shot at impressing coach Peter Laviolette and GM David Poile.
Sept. 27 at Florida Panthers
Time: 3:30 p.m. ET (game one); 7 p.m. ET (game two)
The skinny: The Panthers were one of the biggest surprises in the league by claiming the Atlantic Division. Nashville might not get to see older players like Roberto Luongo or Jaromir Jagr, but Florida and their young talent were part of the reason for their surprising season. The twin bill will allow for a lot of players to get extended ice time.
Sept. 29 at Columbus Blue Jackets
Time: 7 p.m. ET
The skinny: The two teams are linked to each other for the foreseeable future after the blockbuster Ryan Johansen for Seth Jones swap in January. It could be the first time Johansen steps on the ice as the opposition in Columbus. “RyJo” will get a mixed reaction if he suits up.
There is a bit of mystery surrounding Jones. The Texas native is a restricted free agent and can be signed to an offer sheet, which Columbus will have to think about matching.
Oct. 1. vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Time: 8 p.m. ET
The skinny: It will be the first home game since the epic Game 6 overtime-thriller against the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference semifinals, in which Viktor Arvidsson scored the game-winner before Nashville got blanked by San Jose Game 7. It will be a chance for the hometown fans to get a look at the youngsters before the start of the season.
The Bolts may still be missing some of their superstar players because of the World Cup.
Oct. 4 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Time: 8 p.m. ET
The skinny: The Preds only get two home games this preseason and this will be the last one before the season starts. The roster battles will be intensifying and we’ll have a better idea of who will be making the squad.
Oct. 8 at Tampa Bay Lightning
Time: 7 p.m. ET
The skinny: It’s the last exhibition game before the season kicks off on Oct.12. The team would love nothing more than to go into the season on a positive note, even though last year’s preseason finale wasn’t an indicator of the good season the Nashville Predators would have.
Thoughts on the Nashville Predators’ preseason slate
It’s the fairly standard preseason schedule where they aren’t going to some exotic locale with the games being confined to regional opponents. Now we wait for new faces to make the team.
Covered hockey since attending SUNY Oswego in Upstate New York in the early 2000s. Has written about college, major junior and professional hockey for the last five years.
Resides in Watertown, NY.