Having completed 10 full NHL seasons it seems an appropriate time to look back on how the Nashville Predators have fared so far. This week, we've gathered together a list of nominees and narrowed them down to the best of the best in the franchise's short, but definitely interesting, history.
Following the initial years of slow but steady progress and an initial playoff appearance in 2004, the Preds appeared to be ready for a major breakthrough with a 2006-7 team that challenged for the Central Division title and the Presidents Trophy, before injuries and a first-round upset loss to San Jose ended that run. The unexpected bump in the road was the franchise sale by Craig Leipold, which resulted in a salary dump that saw tremendous talent walk out the door for little in return. Now, a new team has emerged from those ashes as the second generation of home-grown talent emerges (led by Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, and Pekka Rinne among others). Where the road goes from here is uncertain, but this makes a suitable point to celebrate the team's greatest players.
Now, after six polls and over 800 votes, the readers here at OtF have spoken. So, without further ado, here are your All-Time Nashville Predators...
Goaltender - Tomas Vokoun
An easy favorite in this category (with 88% of the vote), Vokoun was the franchise's first true star, and continues to be a dominant performer in Florida. Perhaps a few years down the road Pekka Rinne might have a chance at rivaling Vokoun's body of work in the Nashville net, but Tomas has set the bar awfully high.
#29 / Goalie
Jul 02, 1976
Defense - Kimmo Timonen
Another "slam dunk" pick, Timonen represented Nashville at the 2004 and 2007 All-Star Games, and was the third captain in the team's history.
#44 / Defenseman
Mar 18, 1975
Defense - Shea Weber
Last season Weber recovered from an injury-riddled 2007-8 campaign and developed into the Norris Trophy candidate that Nashville fans had been hoping for. With an expected spot on the Canadian Olympic team coming soon, and the slow decline of aging stars like Scott Niedermayer and Niklas Lidstrom, will Shea Weber claim the title of best defenseman in the Western Conference this season?
Winger - Steve Sullivan
The first NHL Award recipient in team history, Sully's Masterton Trophy-winning comeback from serious back injury is just one chapter in what has been an exciting run with the Predators, which started with a hat trick in his very first game for Nashville. Here's to hoping that the fun is just beginning.
Winger - Scott Walker
In the closest race among all the polls, Scott Walker edged Paul Kariya by a mere 7 votes. While his numbers may not have been scintillating, his attitude endeared him to the fans. Read his scouting report for a sample of what he brings to a team, and match that up with "the Predator Way."
Has tremendous heart and leadership qualities. Is an excellent teammate. Can score, kill penalties and even fight if the need arises.
#24 / Right Wing
Jul 19, 1973
Center - Jason Arnott
Having been the #2 center on a number of very good teams before coming to Nashville, Arnott has assumed the top job with the Predators and thrived, tying his career high for goals last season. The current captain looks forward to perhaps topping that mark now that he has a healthy Steve Sullivan to complement his line with J.P. Dumont. He edged out David Legwand and Cliff Ronning to in a relatively tight 3-way race to make the cut.
#19 / Center / Nashville Predators
Oct 11, 1974
Congratulations to all the winners, and thanks to all of you who participated in the nomination and voting process!
UPDATE: By popular request, we've added an enforcer to the lineup...