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Predators eager to finish off what they missed last season

September 27, 2017
FILE - In this Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017, file photo, Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban chases the puck during the third period in an NHL hockey preseason game against the Florida Panthers in Nashville, Tenn. For the first time in franchise history, the Predators will find out how hard it is to defend a Western Conference championship. As usual, the West looks stacked, from Anaheim to Chicago and Dallas to Minnesota.(AP Photo/Mark Humphrey, File)

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

LAST SEASON: 41-29-12, 94 points. Fourth in Central Division. Lost to Pittsburgh Penguins in Stanley Cup Final.

COACH: Peter Laviolette (fourth season, 16th NHL season).

ADDED: C Nick Bonino, F Scott Hartnell, D Alexei Emelin.

LOST: F James Neal, F Colin Wilson, C Mike Fisher.

PLAYER TO WATCH: Ryan Johansen. The center received an eight-year, $64 million deal in July, the largest ever handed out by the Predators after Johansen improved on a strong regular season by scoring nearly a point a game in the postseason with 13 points in 14 games. Johansen is fully recovered from the acute compartment syndrome that ended his playoffs in the Western Conference finals and eager to prove he’s more than just Nashville’s No. 1 center.

OUTLOOK: The Predators had to scrap their way into the playoffs last year as the last seed in the Western Conference and played their way into the franchise’s first Stanley Cup Final. General manager David Poile tied up several young players, keeping the core under contract for the next four years with many locked down for at least five. Coming so close to a championship is driving the Predators to bring the Stanley Cup home to Nashville.

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