The Nashville Predators held their end-of-the-year press conference for the 2021-2022 season on Thursday morning. As part of the press conference, which included both general manager David Poile and head coach John Hynes, it was announced that Hynes had been signed to a two-year contract extension.
Hynes’ previous contract included a team option in which Poile could have chosen to retain him for one more season, but he opted to give him an entirely new deal for a longer amount of time.
For as much as Hynes had shown improvement in his coaching this past year, it is a good thing that he was not given any more years on his contract. At the end of the day, he still has not shown that he is ready to lead the Predators to a Stanley Cup.
As has been harped on several times, the number of penalties that they have taken under him is completely unsustainable for playoff success. The lack of defensive structure has also killed them at several points, as they have been guilty of puck-watching and giving up prime chances as a result.
But one thing is obvious when you look back at the Predators’ press conference, Poile and Hynes very much feel that their team was not good enough to go far in the playoffs this year. And they are correct about that.
Many will look at the team on the surface and say that with two 40-goal scorers, the probable Norris Trophy winner, and a Vezina Trophy candidate, there is no way that they should have been bad enough to get swept. But when you look deeper at the team, it is easy to see why, even on paper, they were never going deep.
For one thing, the secondary scoring on the Predators was severely lacking. Ryan Johansen was basically alone as the second-line center, as the developing youth was nowhere near ready to take the top-six role that they are supposed to take in the future.
The lack of an adequate backup goaltender also hurt big time, as Juuse Saros was continually getting burnt out as the season progressed. Even before his injury, it was clear that he was struggling to keep his elite level of play at the end of the season.
The good news, at least on that front, is that Poile and Hynes realize it. Connor Ingram should be the backup next year, but if for some reason it is not him, expect the team to have a sustainable plan in 2022-2023.
At the end of the day, the precedent being set by Poile here is very sensible. He knows that Hynes has not had a true opportunity with the roster he has had to work with and has vowed to give him that chance starting next year.
But at the same time, Poile knows that Hynes himself has not shown enough to get to the next level. He might have complemented Hynes for doing a great job, but extending him for two years instead of anything longer shows that he only believes in him so much at the moment.
We have to remember that this team was not supposed to do much this year and probably miss the playoffs, and they over-performed, so that should at least be worth something for Hynes. At the same time, he has to continue to improve to earn a bigger extension, and it is a good thing that Poile and the Predators realize it.
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