It's time for our jersey number series to take a lucky turn, as we consider the top players to ever wear #7 for Nashville...
Ronning, at age 31, was acquired by the Nashville Predators from the Phoenix Coyotes on October 31, 1998. He came to the fledgling Predators at the perfect time, when his veteran presence and scoring punch was needed most. Though the Preds finished second-to-last in their first NHL season, Ronning undoubtedly proved his worth to the team. In four seasons with Nashville, he led the team in scoring, exceeding the 60 point mark twice. He was also instrumental in mentoring young players at the time, such as David Legwand. Ronning was eventually traded to Los Angeles just before the trade deadline in 2002.
Center Jeff Nelson was a high scorer in junior and minor leagues, yet failed to maintain his momentum at the NHL level. After spending the 97-98 season with the Milwaukee Admirals, in which he scored 20 goals and 34 points, Nelson was signed as a free agent on August 19, 1998 by the Nashville Predators. After only 9 games in the Preds' inaugural season, in which he was able to score 2 goals and 3 points in 9 games, he spent the rest of the 98-99 season playing for Milwaukee once again, continuing his minor league success with 20 goals and 51 points in 70 games. Nelson was traded to the Washington Capitals on June 22, 1999.
Greg de Vries
De Vries was another player who kicked off the Preds' inaugural season. The defenseman was acquired from Edmonton on October 1, 1998. However, after just six games with the Predators, he was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche, where he would go on to hoist the Stanley Cup in 2001. De Vries would then return to the Predators after being signed as a free agent on July 2, 2007. He played two seasons with the Predators, registering 5 goals and 20 points and was a -8 for the two seasons. He retired shortly thereafter and currently divides his time between Stratford, Ontario and Brentwood, Tennessee.
The Fort McMurray, Alberta native was the 1st choice, 6th overall selection of the Nashville Predators in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. In the fall of 2002, after a brief 8-game cameo with the NHL club, he was returned to his WHL team, the Kamloops Blazers, where he registered 56 points in 42 games. The speedy winger played mostly for Milwaukee the following season, a key contributor to Admirals' run to the 2004 Calder Cup title. In 2005-06, Upshall finally implanted himself into the Predators lineup, and he exploded. He recorded a career high in games played (48), goals (8), assists (18), and points (24). The following season, Upshall suffered a groin injury and would end up missing 30 games with the Predators before eventually being dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers as part of the Peter Forsberg trade.
The first California-born and raised player to be selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft, "Blummer" was Nashville's first choice, 23rd overall in the 2007 Draft. In 2009, Blum played his first full season with the Milwaukee Admirals and scored his first professional goal on October 14, 2009, against Hannu Toivonen in a 5-2 win against the Peoria Rivermen. Blum finished the campaign with 11 goals and 30 assists for 41 points, third among all rookie defensemen in the league. He was also a strong asset for the Ads during their playoff run against the Chicago Wolves, as he added eight points in seven playoff games to his résumé before being eliminated by the Wolves in the first round. The following year, Blum recorded 7 goals and 34 points in 54 games with the Admirals. He was rewarded by being recalled by the Preds on February 22, 2011.
Remaining with the Predators for the remainder of the campaign, Blum recorded 3 goals and 8 points over 23 NHL games while averaging 17 minutes and 45 seconds of ice time per contest. Blum helped the Predators advance all the way to the second round of the 2011 playoffs against the Vancouver Canucks, tallying two assists over a total of 12 games. Following the elimination, Blum was re-assigned to the Admirals for game 7 of the first round of the playoffs against the Houston Aeroes, which Milwaukee lost. The following year, Blum made the Predators' roster out of training camp for the first time in 2011-12. He scored 3 goals and 7 points 33 games with the Predators before being made a healthy scratch in two consecutive games. He was reassigned Milwaukee on December 12, 2011, with whom he amassed 4 goals and 26 points.