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Trotz eyes Stanley Cup after supercharging Predators' offence in free agency


The Nashville Predators were the headlining act in the NHL's Free Agent Frenzy on July 1, spending more than $100 million to bring in star forwards Steven Stamkos and Jonathan Marchessault, as well as defenceman Brady Skjei

The man behind the moves, general manager Barry Trotz, is hopeful these were the right additions to push Nashville to a Stanley Cup run for the first time in franchise history.

Trotz joined OverDrive on TSN1050 Wednesday to talk about the big splash the Predators made in free agency, expectations for the team and what the lineups may look like next season. 

"I want to bring the Stanley Cup to Nashville - I always wanted to do it as a coach, and I think I failed, so I've got a responsibility to arm my coach with as many tools as possible to bring a cup here," Trotz said.

Trotz, who was named the first head coach in Predators' franchise history in 1997 and led the team to seven playoff berths in 15 seasons at the helm, is the third-winningest coach (914) in NHL history.

The 61-year-old was announced as general manager of the team on June 30, 2023, after David Poile announced his retirement earlier in the year. 

He said he doesn't treat free agency as a GM much differently compared to as a coach, outside of "having less patience."

That manifested in the immediate signing of Stamkos, who spent 16 years with the Tampa Bay Lightning and captained them to two Stanley Cup titles. 

“By no means did I ever envision that a day like today would happen, but it did,” Stamkos said on July 1. "It was definitely a bitter pill to swallow when it really started to materialize that it wasn’t going to work in Tampa.”

There was an expectation that the veteran would take time to consider his next move after a return to Tampa Bay was ruled out, but Trotz had planned his pitch and made his move quickly.

"I think he saw what we were doing in Nashville, how we treated people in this city, all the things we had to offer," Trotz said. "I think it made a lot of sense for Stamkos to make the move to Nashville."

Nashville qualified for the Stanley Cup playoffs as the first wild-card team, and were eliminated  by the Vancouver Canucks in six games.

They finished 10th in scoring with 3.24 goals per game a season ago, but Trotz identified an upgrade to offensive firepower as a priority in the off-season, which he feels he addressed effectively. 

"The priority was to add some more offence to our team, especially our forward group, and I think we were able to do that, obviously, getting two 40 goal scorers," said Trotz.

Not only are Stamkos, who scored 40 goals with 81 points last season, and Marchessault, who scored 42 and tallied 69 points, a pair of elite scorers, they're also Stanley Cup winners and proven playoff performers, which Trotz also wanted to prioritize.

"We always look for serial winners. Obviously getting a captain in Stamkos and getting Marchessault, who was a playoff MVP just like Ryan O'Reilly is, those Conn Smythe type of guys are valuable for their lessons from their journeys," he said.

"I think what you're going to see is we fixed our top six ... It looks like a better hockey team on paper, but you're going to need the buy-in, you're going to need the understanding of the workload, the commitment from all the players to have success."