COLUMBUS OH - DECEMBER 01: Cody Franson #4 of the Nashville Predators hits Jakub Voracek #93 of the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Nationwide Arena on December 1 2010 in Columbus Ohio. The Predators defeated the Blue Jackets 4-3 in the shootout. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Our Nashville Predators jersey number series continues with another group of defensemen, since they tend to dominate the single-digit section of the roster. The #4 has been worn by all sorts of defensemen in Nashville over the years, from undersized puck-movers to stay-at-home shot blockers. But who has done it the most honor?
Follow after the jump for More, including some Fruit Cup!
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Jay More (1998)
Another one of the journeymen to make a temporary stop on the Nashville blueline, More joined the Preds at the beginning of that initial 1998-1999 season, after having been signed as a free agent over the summer (in fact, he was the Preds' first-ever FA signing). In a December 10 game against the Florida Panthers, however, he suffered a concussion which ended his playing days.
In 18 games for Nashville, he scored no goals, added two assists, and had 18 penalty minutes.
Mark Eaton (2001-2006)
Eaton was a staple of those early Preds teams which scratched & clawed their way to respectability and those first two playoff berths, coming just before and after the Great Lockout of 2004-2005. In 2000-2001, he led the team with a +7 Plus/Minus rating, a feat he repeated in 2003-2004 with a +16 (rare opportunities for a relatively pedestrian defenseman to lead the team). In 2005-2006, he set a franchise record at the time with 170 Blocked Shots.
In 286 total games for the Preds, Eaton compiled 15 goals, 30 assists, and 130 penalty minutes. He left Nashville as a free agent in the summer of 2006.
Vitaly Vishnevski (2007)
Vishnevski had perhaps one of the strangest careers as a Nashville Predator. Acquired in exchange for Eric Belanger from Atlanta at the 2007 Trade Deadline (Belanger having just been acquired the day before, never having played for the Preds), he was seen as a significant addition to a high-flying Nashville team that lacked a physical presence on defense.
It seemed like he ended up in Barry Trotz's doghouse right away, however, playing 15 games down the stretch but none in the playoffs, as Nashville got manhandled by the San Jose Sharks in what was the Preds' most frustrating playoff loss to that point. Vishnevski joined New Jersey as a free agent that summer and played one more year in the NHL.
Ville Koistinen (2007-2009)
After a surprising rookie campaign in 2007-2008, it was hoped that Koistinen might follow the model of Kimmo Timonen and provide some offensive spark as an undersized puck-moving defenseman. Especially after the Fire Sale of 2007, the Predators needed every bit of help they could get, especially on the power play. After that initial season Koistinen took the team to arbitration, which probably didn't help his standing in an organization that was watching every penny at that point in time.
The next season saw his ice time and production tail off, and as Ryan Suter & Dan Hamhuis grew into leading roles, there was more of a need for grit on the left side rather than more skill. He signed with Florida as a free agent in 2009 and played just one more year in the NHL before heading overseas.
In 86 career games here, Koistinen put up 7 goals and 21 assists, along with 32 penalty minutes and a +13 rating.
Teemu Laakso (2009)
Here's Teemu again already, just two days after showing up in the #2 debate. He broke camp with the big club in 2009, but only lasted 7 games before heading back to Milwaukee. He recorded no points during that run.
Cody Franson (2010-2011)
"Fruit Cup" showed considerable offensive talent during his two seasons in Nashville, and in his sophomore year of 2010-2011 he switched to #4 from 32. Apparently he drew some inspiration from Bobby Orr,as he recorded a beauty of a goal against Tampa Bay in October of that season. With Shea Weber leading the way, Kevin Klein developing into a reliable stopper and Ryan Ellis pushing from below, Franson's spot on the depth chart grew increasingly perilous, however.
Bearing the #4, Franson put up 8 goals and 21 assists in 80 games, along with 30 penalty minutes and a +10 rating.
Who is the greatest #4 in Nashville Predators history?
Mark Eaton (336 votes)
Cody Franson (219 votes)
Ville Koistinen (21 votes)
Teemu Laakso (23 votes)
Jay More (6 votes)
Vitaly Vishnevski (19 votes)
624 total votes