Nashville has drafted and acquired a good deal of talent from all over the U.S., Europe, Asia and especially Canada. One such province has the lion’s share of the Predators attention and that is British Columbia.
Here is a list of players hailing from B.C. that the Predators either drafted or acquired in free agency or trade:
Given this great influx of talent from the B.C. area, it’s no wonder why the Predators are privy to giving the Western Canadian players a chance on the roster. Players like Bombadir, Beech, and Flaherty didn’t contribute much as a Nashville Predator and although Stu Grimson only played one year for the Predators, he still continues to be a part of the team he retired with by being a key figure in the pre and post game shows of the Nashville Predators broadcasting team.
Sebastian Bordeleau had a great year for the Predators in their inaugural year scoring 40 points. His production tailed off considerably after the 1998-1999 season, however. The other names on the list are stamped in the Predators lore from the beginning of the team’s existence to the leadership and competitiveness that brought Nashville to the second round of the playoffs last season.
Cliff Ronning (with Nashville) 1998-2002:
GP: G, A, P
252: 81, 145, 226
Quite an impressive resume with the four years he spent in a Predators sweater. It wasn’t until a couple of years later that another Predator acquired by trade would set the bar for being the one of the most productive players Nashville had ever seen…
Paul Kariya (with Nashville) 2005-2007:
GP: G, A, P
164: 55, 106, 161
Paul Kariya was considered by many to be the best acquisition that the Predators organization had ever made. Coming off an injury shortened year with the Colorado Avalanche, Kariya picked up where he left off in Anaheim. Kariya was also the first Predator to eclipse 30 goals in a season with 31 goals in the 2005-2006 campaign.
Many other players have come and gone from the roster such as Greg Zanon, Dan Hamhuis, Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli, and Mark Dekanich. Their contributions to the Predators and to other teams in the NHL have been vital. Dekanich is battling Steve Mason in Columbus for the starting goaltending spot, Greg Zanon continues to lead the NHL in blocked shots for Minnesota, Mike Santorelli is lighting it up in Florida, Cody Franson will assuredly shine in Toronto, and Dan Hamhuis has re-found his home in Vancouver, B.C. where he now plays stingy defense while contributing in offense to the Vancouver Canucks.
The only players left from the wave of British Columbia talent on the Predators are Jerred Smithson and Shea Weber.
Shea Weber needs no introduction. Arguably one of the best defensemen in the NHL who’s slap shot that can only be told of in fables and hockey lore. The “Beast” who sports the “Chuck Norris-like” playoff beard that has its own twitter account is one of the most sought after players in the NHL.
And of course, let us not forget the truest definition of “The Predator Way,” Jerred Smithson. This gritty center/winger is the quintessential Predator who fights night in and night out, who never gives up on a play, can scrap and defend his teammates whenever the moment may arise. He is an NHL leader in the face-off department and his overtime goal in Game 5 against the Anaheim Ducks was the stuff of legends. When coach Trotz was asked about that goal and the man who scored it: “”He comes to work every game, and he gives you those intangible type of minutes,” Trotz said. “I thought it was sort of fitting he scored that goal.”
Huge thanks to the province of British Columbia for their tireless efforts to create some of the hardest working players that Nashville has had the privilege to call their own. In the meantime, I think we’ll hang on to Smithson and Weber…they seem to be pretty important to us getting deeper into the playoffs.