From 2016 to 2021, the Nashville Predators saw a core of players grow up together. Together they reached heights the franchise had never experienced capped by a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2017. During this time the city of Nashville grew into one of the foremost hockey destinations and the Smashville moniker became synonymous with a raucous and fun environment. Now, following another season where the on-ice results didn’t match the level of talent or expectations, the Nashville Predators Stanley Cup window for this core has officially closed. Heading into the NHL Entry Draft weekend, general manager David Poile has seen the team’s greatest player Pekka Rinne hang up his skates while simultaneously starting the process of pulling the core apart. Since the end of the 2021 season, Poile has traded mainstays Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Ellis to LA and Philadelphia respectively and seen Calle Jarnkrok selected by Seattle in the expansion draft. Resulting from those moves, the Predators have picked up 22-year-old center Cody Glass who was a sixth overall pick in 2017, 24-year-old defenseman Philippe Myers, two second-round picks (2021 & 2022), and over $12M in salary cap space. In just a couple of weeks, the Predators got younger and cheaper but also opened new questions about how the roster looks going forward. Those questions will be answered in the days ahead so let’s look back at the core pieces who have moved on and give them their due.
What an amazing story. Arvidsson was passed over twice for the entry draft and eventually chosen by the Predators as an over-ager. His speed and energy made an immediate impact in Milwaukee and he eventually made his way to Nashville. In his second full season, Arvidsson became one of the most electric players in Nashville’s history. His Predators’ highlight reel is full of turning defensemen inside out with between the legs dekes, breakaways and unrepentant clappers. Arvidsson’s combination of energy, skill and emotion will always be remembered among the Predators faithful.
This one is tough. Ellis has been one of my favorite players for years and seeing him traded was like a gut punch. Ellis came out of juniors as one of the most highly accomplished offensive defensemen in recent memory having scored over 100 points… as a defenseman! An incredibly poised passer who also possesses a howitzer for a shot, he became one of the driving forces for Nashville’s offense and power play. Though undersized, Ellis never backed down and soon became a vocal leader in the Predators locker room earning the title of Associate Captain. Ryan Ellis has been an excellent player and a true leader for the Predators.
Acquired from Detroit in the David Legwand trade, Jarnkrok quickly established himself as a mainstay in the Predators lineup. During his tenure in Nashville Jarnkrok played almost every forward spot and both special teams units. Wherever the Predators needed him to play, Jarnkrok brought a steadying presence and an underrated level of skill to the lineup. My favorite highlight of his was during the 2017 WCF when he fed an impossible saucer pass to Colton Sissons for a shorthanded goal that sealed the series and gave Sissons a playoff hat trick. His versatility and steadiness will be missed in Nashville.
Man… the face of the franchise. Pekka Rinne means so much to Nashville and the Predators organization. He embodied everything you could want from a franchise goaltender. Night in and night out Rinne kept the Predators competitive and you always believed they could win with him between the pipes. Pekka spent his entire career in the Predators organization and holds every career mark a goaltender can have. He is also the winningest Finnish goaltender in NHL history. He won a Vezina trophy and most recently the King Clancy trophy. Pekka Rinne will almost certainly have his number retired and hung in the Bridgestone Arena rafters. His importance cannot be understated and his presence will be near impossible to replace.