We move right along to #28 in our jersey number series. From brutal enforcers to faceoff specialists, this set of 9 candidates is quite the assortment.
Lambert was claimed by the Predators in the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft as their primary enforcer. He was a fan favorite for his friendliness off the ice and his fists on it. In just one season with the Predators, he racked up 218 PIM (along with 5 goals and 16 points), ranking second in PIM's in a season behind Patrick Cole (242), also from that year. Lambert was traded in the offseason to the Atlanta Thrashers for Randy Robitaille. He later joined the Admirals in the 02-03 season for 39 games, notching 12 goals and 24 points. Lambert would officially announce his retirement at the conclusion of that season.
Another hard-nosed owner of #28, Stevenson was signed by the Preds as a free agent on September 25, 2000. In his first two seasons with the organization, he played in a total of 12 games while spending the bulk of his time with the Milwaukee Adimrals. In Milwaukee, he amassed a mammoth 454 PIM in just 113 games. His offensive production was mediocre, scoring 28 goals and 48 points for the Ads in those two seasons. Stevenson was signed by the Minnesota Wild in the 2002 offseason.
However, he would not part ways permanently with the Predators, as the Predators claimed Stevenson on waivers from Minnesota one year later. With his return, he did appear more regularly on the Predators lineup. In two years, he played 88 games for the Predators, accumulating 177 PIM, 9 goals, and 16 points. The following season, upper management was ready to dispose of Stevenson for good, and he was placed on waivers before eventually being picked up by the Dallas Stars.
Traded by the Dallas Stars prior to the beginning of the 02-03 season, Mann played only 4 games with the Predators in the 02-03 season, spending the majority of his time in Milwaukee. Coming off a hot season with the Utah Grizzlies, then AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars, he recorded 26 goals and 57 points with the Admirals. Mann became a free agent that offseason and decided to take his talents across the Atlantic Ocean, playing primarily in Germany for the rest of his career.
This stay-at-home defenseman has been already featured in our jersey series, as he also donned #5. Click here to refresh your memory on Kloucek.
In hot contention with our friend Pascal Trepanier for the Player who has spent the least amount time on the Predators lineup award, Leahy also played only 1 game with the Predators. Spending the majority of his stint with the Predators organization in Milwaukee, he registered 10 goals and 30 points in 52 games. The following season Leahy abandoned his aspirations to become a regular in the NHL and joined the EHC Linz club in Austria.
Jones was acquired from Minnesota along with a second-round selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft (Charles-Olivier Roussel) for defenseman Marek Zidlicky on July 1, 2008. Expectations were high, as he was one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker award. However, he was not able to solidify a spot on the Predators lineup, juggling his time between the Predators and the Admirals during his two years with the organization. In 40 games with the Admirals, he scored 17 goals and 27 points, while notching 14 goals and 28 points in 87 games with the Predators. He was instrumental in the Admirals' run to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs, scoring 4 goals and 7 points in 11 games. Jones was claimed on waivers by the Edmonton Oilers late in the 09-10 season.
On October 20, 2010, Begin was signed as a free agent to a one-year, two-way contract with the Nashville Predators. He played only 2 games with the Predators, with his debut coinciding with a road game win against the New Jersey Devils. Begin seemed to struggle in the AHL as well, as he was only able to rake in 3 goals and 3 assists in 36 games. The Predators decided against resigning him, and he became a free agent on July 1, 2011. He has not played an NHL game since.
On July 5, 2011, Wilson signed a two-year contract with the Nashville Predators. He played only 5 games with the Predators, spending the majority of the season in Milwaukee, where he tallied an impressive 22 goals and 54 points. Wilson did not stay long with the organization, however, as he was traded along with Anders Lindback and a seventh-round draft pick to the Tampa Bay Lightning for Sébastien Caron, two second-round draft picks and a third-round draft pick.
If you have made it to this point, it was well worth it, as the "Goose" is up next on our list of candidates. Gaustad came over to the Predators from the Buffalo Sabres at the 2012 Trade Deadline along with a fourth round pick in exchange for a first round draft pick. This acquisition, along with picking up Hal Gill and Andrei Kostitsyn, drew much praise from the hockey world and was most likely a serious factor in David Poile's nomination for the General Manager of the Year Award. Gaustad was a huge reason for the Predators' success leading up to the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs and their victory over the Detroit Red Wings in the first round.
He has been known for his uncanny ability at winning faceoff draws, as well as his ability to screen goaltenders and deflect goals. He definitely did not fail in living up to these expectations in Music City. He averaged 57% on faceoffs and gave the Predators the added depth they desperately needed, on top of significantly bolstering their defense. This summer, Gaustad locked up a four-year, $13 million contract extension with the Predators, and with the departure of Ryan Suter, expect Gaustad's presence to increase on both sides of the ice.