Predators and Sharks open NHL season in Prague

The 2022-23 NHL season is set to kick off halfway around the world when the San Jose Sharks take on the Nashville Predators in the 2022 NHL World Series on Friday in Prague.

The teams will also play Saturday at the same venue, O2 Arena.

The Predators improved their roster this offseason by trading for veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh and signing talented forward Nino Niederreiter.

McDonagh, 33, spent the last 4 1/2 seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning after 7 1/2 seasons with the New York Rangers.

“We were looking for a potential top-four defenseman heading into the offseason, but having a guy like Ryan was really special and something we jumped at the chance to really do,” Nashville coach John Hynes said. .

As a stoppage defender, McDonagh doesn’t have any stats that jump out at you. However, he appeared in 185 playoff games, including the last three Stanley Cup Finals, winning two championships with Tampa Bay.

It’s experience he hopes to bring to Nashville, which is still in the hunt for its first Stanley Cup title after several close calls.

“There is no greater feeling. It’s hard to describe,” McDonagh said of the 2020 and 21 Cup win. feel that reward at the end of all that hard work.”

Like the Predators, the Sharks have never won a Stanley Cup title, but they haven’t worked as hard as Nashville in the offseason to end that drought.

Brent Burns will not be on the San Jose roster for the first time in 12 seasons after the Sharks traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes over the summer.

The Sharks, however, will continue to rely on the remaining veterans. Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl and Logan Couture are still comfortably at their peak and coming off strong seasons.

Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic provide irreplaceable defensive experience, although both have fallen short of recent expectations.

Karlsson, 32, had at least 62 points in five straight seasons with the Ottawa Senators before being traded to the Sharks on a multiplayer deal in September 2018.

In San Jose, he did not record more than 45 points in any of his four seasons.

Vlasic, 35, saw his plus-minus drop to minus-22 last season, and his average ice time fell to a career low of 15:13.

David Quinn was hired as head coach of San Jose on July 26 after Bob Boughner was fired earlier in the month.

Quinn intends to turn things around, but said the first game went quickly.

“There are a lot of things that we haven’t addressed, but at the end of the day, if we play at the pace and pace that we played, with the mentality, it can cover up a lot of mistakes,” Quinn said. . “That’s all we really focused on. We have a structure and systems in place that we will have to be good at.

The first NHL game in Europe since 2019 almost ran into a snag when the Czech Foreign Ministry informed the NHL that Russian players were not welcome in Prague due to the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. But the Czech government reversed its position on September 29.

The Sharks have two Russian-born players, left wingers Alexander Barabanov and Evgeny Svechnikov, and the Predators have Russian center Yakov Trenin on their roster.

–Field level media

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