Anyway you slice it there isn't a whole lot of scoring to be found in this forward group, but even the slightest improvement from last year's anemic offense would be considered a success.
DEFENSE - Although Weber appeared lost without Suter at the start of last season, Nashville's captain was in All-Star form by the end of the campaign.
Weber had no goals and only two assists through the first 14 games of last season, but he still wound up finishing in the top-10 of NHL defensemen in scoring. Although the slow start had to have a little to do with losing his longtime skating partner, it's possible Weber was rusty due to the long layoff caused by the lockout.
Weber also played his best hockey of the season once Trotz settled on Roman Josi as his permanent skating partner. The 23-year-old Swiss blueliner proved to be a suitable match for Weber and ended the season with five goals and 13 assists in 48 games.
Although it'd be tempting to pair Jones with Weber this season, Trotz is unlikely to put that kind of pressure on the club's most recent first-round pick. Jones, the son of former NBA veteran Popeye Jones, is billed as the complete package and the Texas native, who won't turn 19 until early October, already has NHL-ready size at 6-foot-4, 205 pounds.
Jones is expected to begin the season partnered with veteran Kevin Klein, who had 14 points (3G, 11A) in 47 games last season.
Like Jones, Ryan Ellis is another first-round talent on the Nashville blue line. The 11th overall pick of the 2009 draft is coming off his second season as an NHLer and recorded two goals and four assists in 32 games last year.
Trotz may use Victor Bartley as a partner for Ellis this season after he recorded seven assists in 24 games as a rookie last season.
GOALTENDING - Outside of Weber, the Predators' best player is two-time Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne, but even he suffered through a down season in 2013.
Rinne went 43-18-8 with a 2.39 goals against average and .923 save percentage in 2011-12, but his numbers took a hit last season when he went 15-16-8 with a 2.43 GAA and .910 save percentage. The big netminder also underwent hip arthroscopic surgery in the offseason, but he is expected to be ready to go for the start of the regular season.
The 30-year-old is usually a workhorse and that was the case last season when Rinne started 42 of Nashville's 48 games. Unless injuries slow him down, Rinne could get an even higher percentage of starts in 2013-14 considering backup options Carter Hutton and Magnus Hellberg have a combined one game of experience between them.
WHEN ALL IS SAID AND DONE - Poile and Trotz, the only GM and head coach this franchise has ever employed, have made a name for themselves by getting the most out of rosters that are usually short on big-name talent. The club builds through the draft, but that strategy may not be paying off the way it once did. Nashville hopes Jones or Forsberg can replenish the organization with breakout years, but all signs point to the club missing the postseason once again.