The rise of the Nashville Predators over the past decade has been very fun to watch, especially when one looks at where they were ten years ago. I haven’t written in a while because I wanted to think about this topic through thoroughly, but here are my top twelve Predators of the decade, based on statistics, cultural impact, and what they brought to the organization.
Is this list abnormally long? Sure, but these players brought something unique to Nashville, and to leave them off this list would be irresponsible. I have certain likings to some players, mainly because I grew up with them. And yes, the comments section will be open for POLITE DISAGREEMENTS.
12. Ryan Ellis (2011-present, 242 points *as of 28 December 2019*)
In terms of offense over the past decade, Ryan Ellis has been slightly above average. His numbers aren’t outstanding, but at the very least, he has been a productive defenseman who has worked his way through the ranks. When he first arrived in Nashville, he was a third pairing defenseman with offensive intrigue. Now he is an associate captain, serving alongside his defensive partner, Roman Josi. An example of patience, Ellis has never been the defenseman to lay devastating hits or score considerable amounts of points. However, he is reliable and consistent and most assuredly would’ve been named captain had Josi not been given the mantle. I’ve personally loved watching Ellis develop into the leader over the player, but he isn’t without great moments: Ellis scored the first Stanley Cup Final goal for the organization against Pittsburgh and anchored the team through the second round of the playoffs in 2017.
My favorite Ryan Ellis moment of the decade was when he tackled James Neal to the ice after Neal scored the GWG against St. Louis in Game Four. I don’t think I need to explain how happy I was in that moment.
11. Martin Erat (2001-2013, 481 points)
In his heyday, Martin Erat was one of the most important pieces in Nashville’s system. Currently, he sits in second place on the all time Predators points list. Between two and a half seasons in this decade, he netted 40 goals and recorded 129 points. He was the standout star and shepherded young talent in Barry Trotz’s system, but ultimately, he asked for a trade. Frankly, there isn’t much to talk of Martin Erat from this decade, and although he was a big piece of the offense right before he left, the trade request left a bad taste in the mouth. However, because of his request, Erat’s last contribution to the Predators was bringing Filip Forsberg from the Washington Capitals. That fact is hard to ignore, and although acquiring most certainly had nothing to do with Erat alone, he was the main piece in that particular trade and the Predators benefitted the most in the end.
I don’t have a favorite moment from this decade, but Erat was a solid playmaker in the previous decade and watching old highlight videos conjure sweet memories.
10. P.K. Subban (2016-2019, 130 points)
Yes, P.K. Subban is and should be noted as one of the best players on Nashville’s squad in the last decade. I don’t much care for people who think he was a liability or that he wasn’t one of the most productive players on the ice when all statistical analysis points otherwise. Production aside, Subban moved the puck quite well and transitioned from zone to zone with ease. He was one of the best defenseman to ever wear a gold sweater, and had salary not been a factor in acquiring another scoring forward, he would still be apart of the team. Subban also contributed to the community with his “Blue Line Buddies” program, still donated to his hospital back in Montreal, and used his social media presence to bring much needed attention to the Predators. If nothing else, Subban brought attention and luster to Nashville, ranging from his talk show to his Listerine shenanigans. A bold personality, Subban brought a new, lively feeling to the team that had yet to be seen before, and for that, he is missed. He was a character both on the ice and off, and the fans who believe his presence wasn’t needed are flat out wrong.
My favorite P.K. Subban was probably his trade-marked celebration when he scored his first goal as a Predator. The raw emotion he played with was unmatched, and if nobody else does, I certainly miss him.
“Yeah we miss having P.K. back there.” -General Manager David Poile.
9. Viktor Arvidsson (2014-present, 203 points *as of 28 December 2019*)
The leading single-season goal scorer in Nashville’s history, Viktor Arvidsson has been the life of the team ever since he was placed on the first line. He isn’t the fastest skater, but he’s a hustler who makes quick and decisive decisions with the puck. He is brave enough to stand in front of the net, and typically faces extreme punishment (see Robert Bortuzzo and his filthy cross-check). That being said, he is the furthest thing from an expendable body. Arvidsson went on a goal-scoring tear after missing nearly all of November and December in 2018. His accomplishments overshadowed the obvious issues that the Predators couldn’t solve, but what a wonderful distraction he was. I could go on for days about him, but we’re only at number nine, and we have a few more names to go. Arvidsson has become a fan favorite for many reasons, but none more than his goal-scoring capabilities, his celebrations and his enthusiasm.
My favorite moment from Arvidsson this decade comes at a tie: deciding between his OT goal against the Sharks in the 2016 playoffs and his jump celebration after he scored his 34th goal last year is too difficult.
8. James Neal (2014-2017, 136 points)
Again, this pick will cause controversy, but I personally loved what James Neal brought to the Nashville Predators. Acquired from Pittsburgh for Patric Hornqvist, this was one trade that didn’t make sense initially. They both played the same way, scored the same way, led the same way, and stuck up for their teammates the same way. However, Neal played better with a perimeter style under Peter Laviolette whereas Hornqvist liked to be a body in front of the net. Not to mention, Neal objectively improved the top six and the power play. At the time, the Predators were in dire need of offense and Neal provided that cushion. In terms of General Manager David Poile’s grand plan, he needed a goal scoring winger and a play making center. The rise of Filip Forsberg and the acquisitions of Neal and center Ryan Johansen was quite a lethal combination. Also, Neal was the goal-scoring contributor in the playoffs as advertised; 14 overall playoff goals with the Predators, trailing only Filip Forsberg between the 2015 and 2017 playoffs. Additionally, Neal was evidently a leader, earning an “A” on his sweater in only three seasons played with the team.
My favorite James Neal moment of the decade was probably his Stanley Cup Final goal in Game Three against Pittsburgh, but a very close second is definitely his two point performance against San Jose in the second round of the 2016 playoffs.
7. Ryan Johansen (2015-present, 238 points *as of 28 December 2019)
The best trade acquisition for Nashville in the last decade was objectively Ryan Johansen. Both teams involved benefited tremendously from each other, and at the time of Johansen’s arrival, the Predators were in dire need of a first line center. Johansen provided much-needed support down the middle and allowed goal scorers like James Neal and Filip Forsberg to do what they do best. Arguably, Johansen has been the most important forward on the Predators in terms of puck control, possession, and movement. Johansen anchored the most effective scoring line when the Predators desperately needed offense, and he did so with little trouble. He’s also been quite the personality in the locker room, often toying with reporters post game after victories. He is a large personality who can light up a locker room and ignite the offense.
My favorite Ryan Johansen moment was probably his interaction with Ryan Kesler. Because this is a family-oriented website, I cannot type verbatim what he said to Kesler, BUT I can censor it.
“You’re a freakin’ loser, and nobody likes you.” -Ryan Johansen
6. Filip Forsberg (2012-present, 331 points *as of 28 December 2019)
Forsberg’s place on this list goes without saying: he is the best player on the Nashville Predators right now, and has been ever since he became a consistent threat. Not only has he risen to elite status, he is clawing his way towards franchise level famous. The Predators would not be the successful team they are now without Forsberg. Hands down, he is the most dynamic puck mover, goal scorer, and reliable forward of the decade. He led the team in their Cup run, led the team in the regular season, and held the single-season goal record until Arvidsson broke through in 2019. His meteoric rise to stardom has been recognized around the league, but unfortunately for everybody, he catches the injury bug quite frequently. However, even a slightly less operational Filip Forsberg is more impactful than 90% of the league on their best night. If the game is on the line and I have to choose one player to have the puck on his stick, I want Forsberg over anyone. From wicked wrist shots to creative puck transitioning, he is the most fun player to watch when healthy.
My favorite Forsberg moment of the decade is the game-tying goal against Anaheim in Game Three of the 2017 WCF. Forsberg put the team on his back the whole night, and took control of the situation at the exact right time. I personally cannot wait till he rises to the occasion again.
5. David Legwand (1998-2014, 617 points)
The first ever draft pick for the Nashville Predators played with the team all the way through 2014, where he was then traded to the Detroit Red Wings. Legwand holds nearly all Nashville offensive records, including goals, assists, points, games played, game winning goals, and overtime goals. He is a legend among former Predators, and because of his legendary status, he earned a place on this list. He was still one of the most productive forwards until he was traded to Detroit, and it’s a shame David Poile’s run-in with Ryan Suter forced a more stern approach toward trades and salary disputes. Legwand’s departure meant Calle Jarnkrok’s arrival, and in the end, Legwand retired a Buffalo Sabre. Had he not ended his career in a different city, he’d probably be number two or three. Regardless, Legwand’s contributions are to be remembered.
My favorite David Legwand moment of this decade was when he won the Selke in 2011. It was the third Selke trophy he had won with the team.
4. Mike Fisher (2010-2018, 241 points)
He was a solid center, old-fashioned player, and renowned leader. The only detriment to his captaincy is how short it was, and I certainly wish he would have stayed on longer. However, age, retirement, and timing all restricted him from reaching a second year as captain. Fisher was a special player not necessarily for his hockey abilities but more for his leadership qualities. He wasn’t a prolific scorer, as he never reached 25 goals as a Predator, but Fisher was a presence on the ice. For a while, I would compare Fisher to Derek Jeter– he wasn’t the best player on the ice, but I doubt the Predators would’ve been as successful without him. He was a net front body who could withstand punishment. Fisher brought Nashville some wonderful memories, and he paved the way for Roman Josi’s eventual promotion. He also won the NHL Foundation Player of the Year award in 2012, adding to his already stellar reputation. This is a long-winded way of saying Fisher absolutely deserves a place in the top twelve Predators of the decade.
Without a doubt, my favorite Fisher moment is the two goal performance against San Jose in Game Four of the second round. For real Mike Fisher fans, this was the game where he netted the triple overtime goal.
3. Shea Weber (2005-2016, 443 points)
Shea Weber served as captain of the Predators for the majority of the decade, leading the team from 2010 through 2016 before being shipped off to Montreal. Weber was an enforcing defenseman, fighting pretty much anyone and everyone. He racked up 277 points, and led the team in points twice in his tenure as captain. A soft-spoken slapshot expert, Weber preferred to let his fists and stick do the talking. He paired with Roman Josi, which overshadowed the young Swiss defenseman’s talents, but Weber acted as big brother when Josi ever found himself in a scrum. Weber’s slapshot caused many injuries and many points for Nashville. Even after four years without Weber, he still leads the Predators in power play goals and total shots (albeit Roman Josi is rapidly approaching 2052 shots). He, like Mike Fisher, is a natural leader, as he quickly became captain of the Canadiens. Weber brought a lot of tenacity, physicality, and old school hockey to Nashville. He is certainly missed.
My favorite memory of Shea Weber is the second round goal against the San Jose Sharks. Receiving a short pass from Ryan Johansen, Weber blasted the goal past Martin Jones, lighting Bridgestone Arena on fire. The crowd stayed on its feet for a long time afterwards.
2. Roman Josi (2011-present, 384 points *as of 28 December 2019)
Overshadowed. Underrated. Overlooked. A few words that describe Roman Josi in the past decade. Finally, after the talents of Shea Weber landed in Montreal and P.K. Subban was shipped off to New Jersey, it was Josi’s time to shine, and shining he is. Josi has been subtly fantastic ever since he arrived in Nashville, working miracles left and right on the ice. It was he who scored the first Predator goal in the Stanley Cup Final on home ice and led the team to their first win in the series. Josi was named captain of the team the following year, then proceeded to lead Nashville to their first President’s Trophy. This year, Josi leads the team in points, tied for goals, and seems to be carrying the team by himself. Josi is the key member of the Predators’s core, and he’s been the glue. Whether fans realize it or not, Josi’s play proved vital to Nashville’s success since the beginning of the decade and only now is he receiving the respect he deserves. Josi grew up with the team, and now wears the honorary captain beard proudly. He is number two on my list because he has been the most consistent, trustworthy skater since day one. Thank the Lord Ryan Suter ended up in Minnesota.
My favorite Roman Josi moment of the decade has to be when he scored the coast to coast goal against Chicago in the 2015 playoffs. Either that, or when he undressed Erik Karlsson. Although, in Josi’s defense, my favorite Josi highlight reel would be way too long for anyone’s enjoyment (maybe not).
Honorable mentions: Patric Hornqvist, Craig Smith, Colin Wilson, Seth Jones, Jordin Tootoo
Allow me to explain why they’re not in my top twelve. Hornqvist scored the GWG for the Penguins against the Predators in the SCF, Smith aired an empty net goal (that’s not completely invalidating, but he’s been put in spots to succeed and can only maintain a streaky reputation), Colin Wilson wasn’t Playoff Colin Wilson when they needed him in the SCF, Seth Jones was vastly underutilized and would’ve been better had he found his way in Columbus), and Jordin Tootoo was well past his prime when the Predators traded him. However, I am open to argument should anyone feel brave enough.
1.Pekka Rinne (2005-present, 354 wins & .918 save percentage *as of December 2019*)
Anyone who says Pekka Rinne isn’t the Nashville Predators of the decade is either insane, ignorant or both. Rinne has not only been the backbone of the team for the past decade, but the prior decade as well. Arguably, he carried the Predators for two years past their famous Cup run when the team lacked true offensive firepower and adequate defense. He’s a Vezina winner, a fan favorite, the cornerstone for Nashville’s recent success, and the best goaltender in the history of the Predators’ existence (sorry, Chris Mason). Cultural impact aside, Rinne leads the organization in all goaltending categories, but when looking at his career shutouts, he is in first place by a slim margin of THIRTY-SEVEN. Even without a Cup under his belt, it is extremely hard to imagine Rinne missing the Hall of Fame in his lifetime. His statistics speak for him, but he has been such a fantastic example in the community and one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.
My favorite Pekka Rinne moment from this decade was when he denied Jake Guentzel and Sydney Crosby at the goalline in Game Four of the Stanley Cup Final, although there are many Rinne saves burned into my brain. A very close second was seeing his smile as held the Vezina trophy.
Because I don’t know how to end this, I will talk about myself. That’s what I do best!
I am a catcher at DePauw University, but I still bring parts of hockey into baseball. Aside from the fantastic chirping, I have this really weird habit. Whenever I lay my body out to prevent a past ball or when I make a ridiculous catch that would also result in a past ball, I whisper to myself, “GLOVE SAVE, PEKKA RINNE!”
And yes, I’ve gotten weird looks when I whisper that a little too loudly.