The Nashville Predators made some huge decisions at the 2023 Trade Deadline and David Poile set his successor, Barry Trotz, up for success by acquiring a ton of picks and prospects while cleaning the slate. Though the team was a big seller at the deadline, they remain competitive with some elite players. The Predators are looking towards the future as a number of young players have been inserted into the lineup. As with every team, there are going to be some who won’t return next season.
The most impactful of the players on the current Predators’ roster that won’t be back next season is Dante Fabbro. Though the team is getting younger, the young defenceman has taken a big step back this season after the addition of Ryan McDonagh last offseason. It pushed him to the third pairing and out of favour. As a result, his ice time has dropped by three minutes from what he has averaged throughout his first three seasons in the NHL, and his production has dipped with it.
Fabbro has been forced to play a bigger and more defensive game. His physicality has increased, but so has the percentage of draws he’s started in the defensive zone as opposed to the offensive zone. He has now been in the NHL long enough to see the type of player he can become. The step back this season hasn’t been great. Now that Mattias Ekholm has been traded, Fabbro has moved back up the lineup for the time being. But with the additions of Tyson Barrie and Cal Foote at the deadline, he could lose a ton of playing time and opportunity upon the return of Alexandre Carrier. A change in scenery may be best at this point. There was trade interest before the deadline and Fabbro was believed to be the young defenceman the team was shopping. He was extended for one year to likely help with any trade in the offseason.
Rasmus Asplund was a recent acquisition at the deadline from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a seventh-round pick. It was a low price to pay for a young-ish player with some potential. The Sabres didn’t have room in their forward group and Nashville needed bodies this season after trading some off and dealing with injuries. The Predators are at least giving Asplund a shot in their lineup, but that could just last until the end of the season.
Related: Predators 2023 NHL Trade Deadline Grades
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There is more than enough opportunity for players to play key roles and step up down the stretch as the Predators are still fighting for a spot in the playoffs. Asplund is a third-line player at best and has only played 30 games this season averaging just over 11 minutes of ice time. The 25-year-old’s two goals and eight points aren’t that promising, and it is a far cry from his eight goals, 27 points, and some Selke Trophy votes last season. The Predators may very well move on from Asplund and instead continue to roll with the players they’ve developed.
Michael McCarron played a fairly important role on the fourth line for the Predators last season, but like many others, has taken a step back this season. This has caused him to spend time in the American Hockey League (AHL) and only get into 18 games with the Predators this season. He was mainly centering the fourth line last season and providing a ton of physicality. He actually contributed offensively in 2021-22 as well and provided the team with confidence when he was taking draws.
As the Predators are shifting towards a younger group, McCarron has been passed over this season and was recently recalled. Of these players in this group, he is the only unrestricted free agent. It isn’t hard to see that Nashville will likely move on from the big fringe NHLer in the offseason and elect to bring in more impactful players to fill their depth.
No one knows what Poile has in store for the Predators before his retirement and how Trotz intends to kick off his tenure as general manager. The organization at least appears to be in good hands, and don’t expect Trotz to sit on his when the decisions become his to make.