David picks up with the latest installment of our jersey number series, and finally, we get to consider a forward in the mix! Blake Geoffrion may not have had the longest Nashville Predators career, but his was certainly the most eagerly anticipated. - Dirk
Follow after the jump for today's candidates...
Jan Vopat was acquired by the Nashville Predators from the Los Angeles Kings prior to the commencement of the Preds' inaugural season in 1998 and stayed with the team for two years. He was a smart, but not overly physical, defenseman. He stuck to a simple game with few mistakes and left the fancy stickwork to his teammates. He played 55 games during the inaugural season and amassed 5 goals and 11 points total.
Vopat's downfall came toward the end of the season, as he developed a rare rash on his skin and knees known in sports circles as "gunk." This rash grew worse to the point that it disrupted Vopat's play. The Preds' staff tried everything, from applying various ointments to changing cleaning supplies and equipment materials, yet these efforts were to no avail. Vopat ended the following season early after only six games and became a free agent at the end of the 99-00 season. He would retire shortly thereafter following a brief stint in Finland.
Andy Delmore was for the Predators what Mike Green is for the Capitals: a talented offensive defenseman who was instrumental in quarterbacking the Preds' powerplay. He came to Nashville following the 00-01 season after a very successful run with the Philadelphia Flyers. In Nashville, Delmore accumulated 72 points in just two seasons with the Predators. In fact, for the 01-02 and 02-03 season, Delmore had the highest number of powerplay goals (11 and 14, respectively) on the entire team. He also led the team in shots (175) in 2002-2003 before being dealt to Buffalo that summer.
Brad Bombardir was acquired from Minnesota in the latter half of the 03-04 season. The defenseman played only 13 games with the Predators in the regular season and scored no points, although he was a +1. Bombardir also accompanied the Predators to their first ever playoff series, facing their Central Division rival, the Detroit Red Wings. Bombardir was able to tally one assist in the 6-game series.
Another player that spent only a very brief time in Nashville, Tomas Kloucek was known to be a stay-at-home defenseman. He was acquired from the New York Rangers along with Rem Murray and Marek Zidlicky for Mike Dunham on December 12, 2002. In the one-year span before being dealt to the Atlanta Thrashers, Kloucek dressed for a handful of games with the Preds while spending the majority of his time with their AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. In the 8 games Kloucek played for the Predators, he was able to amass only one assist, yet he was a remarkable +4 for the short time he spent playing with the Predators. Kloucek played 34 games with the Admirals and was able to score 6 assists during his time there.
Greg Zanon was a solid defenseman who had the capability of chipping in offensively. Zanon joined the Milwaukee Admirals in the 03-04 season and was instrumental in the club's run to the 2004 Calder Cup Championship. For the next several seasons, he would split time between the AHL and the Nashville Predators or the NHL. He played a total of 230 games with the Predators between 2005 and 2009, accumulating 7 goals and 26 points. Zanon became the team leader in several categories during his stint with the Predators, including blocked shots (06-08) and the highest +/- by a defenseman in the 06-07 season.
"Boomer," a nickname bestowed upon Blake Geoffrion by his teammates in honor of his grandfather, was selected 56th overall by the Nashville Predators at the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He was a conference all-star in his senior year of 09-10 at the University of Wisconsin. He was also named the consensus All-American and Player of the Year and won the Hobey Baker Award as the top college player in the United States.
Geoffrion made his professional debut for the Milwaukee Admirals at the end of the 09-10 season and scored 2 goals in 3 playoff games. He was assigned back to Milwaukee for the upcoming season, where he truly demonstrated to the Predators' brass his capabilities. After scoring 16 points in his first 31 games of the season, Geoffrion improved to 17 points in seven games, and became the first AHL player to be named AHL Player of the Week consecutively since Jim Carey in 1994.
Due to his success, the Predators decided to recall Geoffrion on February 25, 2011. He scored his first NHL goal, in his third game, against Edmonton Oilers goaltender Martin Gerber on March 1 and surprised many when he registered his first hat trick on March 20, 2011, against the Buffalo Sabres. Unfortunately, the following season was not such a hit for Geoffrion, as he was demoted to the Admirals once more after playing 22 games for the Predators. He played another 20 with the Admirals before he was fittingly traded to Montreal, which is where his great-grandfather, grandfather, and father played.