After Sunday’s 5-4 overtime win over the Carolina Hurricanes, the Nashville Predators are officially done with the preseason. The regular season is upon us.

Finally!

But before the Predators begin their season on Thursday night against the New York Rangers, there’s one final detail: final cuts.

Going into Sunday’s game, there were essentially four guys vying for two final spots on the roster. Zac Rinaldo, Frederick Gaudreau, Colin Blackwell, and Rocco Grimaldi have battled all September for two spots vacated by Scott Hartnell’s departure in free agency and by Austin Watson’s 27 game suspension.

Right now, based on what we’ve seen this preseason, I think we see Rinaldo and Gaudreau make it, with Blackwell and Grimaldi sent down to Milwaukee.

UPDATE (12 PM): The Preds did in fact send Blackwell to Milwaukee and send Grimaldi to waivers (which means he will be in Milwaukee, unless he is claimed by another team). So Rinaldo and Gaudreau made the cut.

I should mention that this is based on the assumption that Ryan Hartman (shoulder surgery) is good to go for the regular season opener, as has been reported. If he’s out, then probably Grimaldi is in over Blackwell.

If my prediction holds true, then your opening night roster for the Predators could look like this:

Zac Rinaldo Reformed?

At Saturday’s practice, Peter Laviolette had a brief anecdote about Zac Rinaldo that revealed quite a bit about Rinaldo’s hockey mindset.

The question from The Athletic’s Adam Vingan was about if Rinaldo has changed much in his approach to making a hockey roster since Laviolette saw him in Philadelphia. Here was Laviolette’s response:

I remember the first development camp I saw Zac play, I think he knocked five development players, in June, out of the inter-squad scrimmage. And I think he’s past that now, where he doesn’t feel like he has to prove himself in that way. Like I said before, I watch him practice and I see a kid that can skate, has good hands, he’s done a pretty good job on the penalty kill so far in preseason. So that, along with his physical element inside of a game against somebody else’s players, is a good thing, not necessarily your own [players] in June.

But I mean he made an impact, I remember even when he was a rookie, I remember leaving that game talking to [Paul Holmgren] that that kid’s probably gonna make our team.

It seems unlikely that a player who has been suspended for a total of 25 games in the NHL for several egregious hits (elbows to the face, blindside head shots, etc.) has simply changed his ways overnight. But I guess we are about to find out, because Rinaldo is probably going to make this Preds roster.

GIF me that good stuff

Ryan Johansen’s OT winner on Sunday followed by Ryan Johansen promptly leaving the ice is pretty great.

Here’s another for you. This was Craig Smith’s second goal on Sunday. He worked hard for this one.

Let’s Do That Hockey

Thursday 10/4 – 6:30 PM: Predators @ Rangers [away, NBC-SN]

Saturday 10/6 – 7:00 PM: Predators @ Islanders [away, FS-TN]

Final Thought

Ryan Johansen, who has probably been hearing “you should shoot more” from coaches, media, and fans, has been shooting a lot this preseason. Johansen’s four goals leads the team in the preseason and his 12 shots are good for 4th most on the team. While the Nashville Predators are still a good offensive team going into the season, they could certainly benefit from increased production from Ryan Johansen from a goal scoring standpoint.

— Featured image via USA Today —

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