The Nashville Predators were one of the hottest teams in the NHL in the second half of the season. Nashville began the year on a less-than-ideal note. In fact, they were struggling to maintain a playoff spot in mid-February. But then something magical happened. Whether it was the cancelled U2 concert, or things just clicked, the Predators began dominating.

Nashville went on a wild run to end the year. From February 15th until the end of the season, the Predators amassed a record of 20-5-3. This helped them secure a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as the top wild-card team in the Western Conference. However, the magic ran out in the postseason.

The Predators faced off with the Pacific Division champion Vancouver Canucks. Nashville played a competitive series, but they couldn't overcome Vancouver. They fell in six games despite the Canucks losing their two best goaltenders.

Now, Nashville is preparing for the NHL Draft and NHL Free Agency. It's certainly going to be an interesting summer for general manager Barry Trotz and his front office. With this in mind, here are two moves the Predators must make in the 2024 NHL offseason.

Predators must replace Ryan McDonagh

Nashville Predators incoming general manager Barry Trotz announces the twenty fourth pick in round one of the 2023 NHL Draft at Bridgestone Arena.
Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Predators have actually already made a move this offseason. Nashville traded veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange for a 2024 seventh and a 2025 second-round pick. This move comes a few years after the Lightning traded McDonagh to Nashville in the first place.

McDonagh played a major role on Nashville's defense this past season. In fact, only captain Roman Josi averaged more minutes per game than the now-traded rearguard. He also ranked second among Predators defenders in points and blocked shots. Additionally, he was absolutely vital to the team's penalty kill in 2023-24.

Nashville already had decisions to make on the backend with Alexandre Carrie and Tyson Barrie hitting NHL Free Agency. Now, they need to replace a key member of their blueline. Nashville could target free agent options such as Brandon Montour or Brady Skjei. Or they could try swinging a trade for someone like Torey Krug or Colton Parayko. In any event, Trotz needs to find a reliable defenseman this summer.

Predators should target offensive firepower

Nashville actually improved their scoring output under new head coach Andrew Brunette in 2023-24. However, they hit a wall against the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even when facing Vancouver's third-choice goalie, the Predators had trouble consistently scoring goals.

Trotz has gone on record saying he wants to bolster his team's offense this summer. “We relied heavily on one line last year, the Ryan O’Reilly line. They all had career years on that line. But I’m looking for more scoring. I’m looking at the trade market. I’m looking at free agency. And some options internally,” the Predators general manager told The Athletic.

With this in mind, there are two ways Trotz can approach this. He could take a big swing at a star player. In this scenario, Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner makes a lot of sense. Marner has been in trade rumors this offseason after a coaching change in Toronto. He is an unrestricted free agent in 2025.

The other option is to target a couple of middle-six players to provide depth. NHL Free Agency this year has a few options for Trotz to choose from. Veteran winger Vladimir Tarasenko could join the team after finishing the Stanley Cup Final with the Florida Panthers. And Boston Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk is likely headed for a new team this summer. Both players make a lot of sense for the Predators.

Nashville needs to find consistency with its goal-scoring if they want to go far in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Making these moves this summer will certainly help to obtain their goal. It'll certainly be interesting to see what the Predators do in NHL Free Agency this year.