The Nashville Predators have a fairly successful track record of developing their own core talent. From Shea Weber to Pekka Rinne to Roman Josi, the majority of Smashville’s brightest stars have been drafted and nurtured by the Preds into the players they are today.
But there are always those special few “ones that got away”: the Moby Dicks, the Rhett Butlers, the Karen Filippellis... they’re the players you see move on to do bigger and better things.
They experience, as the youths say, a “glow up.”
So today, we’re creating our All-Time Post-Predators “Glow Up” team. These are all former Predators who had little-to-limited success in Nashville, left the organization for whatever reason, and became mainstays for other teams.
There’s two criteria we’re using for this list. First, we’re excluding players who were already well-known, league-renowned players in Nashville. So players like Ryan Suter (an All-Star game representative in Nashville) won’t appear on this list, even if their prime years were spent elsewhere. We’re also limiting this list to players who SIGNIFICANTLY improved their talents once leaving the Preds, which would exclude a player like Dan Hamhuis (who played a bigger role in Vancouver than Nashville, but put up comparable numbers in both homes).
Now, on with the list.
Defense: Seth Jones
Preds Career: Honestly, you probably could have predicted this entry all the way back in 2016. The Predators picked Jones fourth overall in the 2013 NHL Draft, adding him to an already stacked defensive corps. He then became the first Predator since Scottie Upshall to make the team’s opening night roster directly after his draft, beginning a respectable 25-point rookie campaign as a 19-year-old. Jones would spend another year and a half as the Predators’ fifth defender before being traded to Columbus for Ryan Johansen, an attempt by GM David Poile to flip the team’s deep defensive depth chart for offensive help.
The Post-Preds Glow Up: After spending two and a half years as a complement to stars like Shea Weber, Roman Josi, and Ryan Ellis, Jones was immediately thrust into the “THE Guy” role on the Blue Jackets. And it didn’t take the youngster long to find his footing. As predicted, Jones has since developed into one of the league’s best top-pair blueliners. He finished fourth in the Norris trophy race in 2018 and has four straight All-Star game nods under his belt, all while skating nearly 26 minutes a game for Columbus.
Defense: Greg de Vries
Preds Career: The Sundridge, Ontario blue-liner actually had TWO stints with the Predators, the second (from 2007-2009) being his more memorable one. But de Vries was actually part of Nashville’s inaugural roster back in 1998. The Predators traded for the 25-year-old nine days before their first game. De Vries didn’t make a tremendous impact his first time around, and after just six games with the Preds, he was traded to Colorado for a second-round pick.
Post-Preds Glow Up: For de Vries, that trade was like being sent from West Philadelphia to Bel Air. The Avs — featuring the likes of Joe Sakic, Peter Forsberg, and Patrick Roy — were perennial Cup favorites, and de Vries found an initial niche as the team’s sixth defender. But after a few years of trust and development, he found his way into a top four that also included Ray Bourque, Rob Blake, and Adam Foote, which culminated in a 2001 Stanley Cup win. De Vries later left Colorado for stints with the Rangers, Senators, and Thrashers (averaging close to 22 minutes a game in that span) before re-joining the Predators as a depth guy for the final two years of his career.
Left Wing: Andrew Brunette
Preds Career: Another entry from the inaugural team, the Preds selected the Capitals prospect in their expansion draft. Brunette became a part of franchise lore by scoring the team’s first-ever goal in his second game with the Preds. Brunette spent the rest of the inaugural season on the team’s second line, finishing seventh on the team in scoring with 31 points (11 G, 20 A). He initially appeared to be a part of the team’s long-term plans, but in the offseason, the Preds sent the winger to yet another expansion team, Atlanta, in exchange for prospect Randy Robitaille.
Post-Preds Glow Up: Playing for his second inaugural team in as many years, Brunette made an immediate impact with the Thrashers, leading the team in scoring with 50 points. Brunette played one more season with Atlanta before moving on to Minnesota, sparking the best run of his career. He gained notoriety around the league for his performance in the Wild’s miracle 2003 playoff run, which saw him score the series-clinching overtime goal against Colorado in the first round, sealing one of the bigger playoff upsets in modern memory. Brunette would then average 60 points a season over the next eight years (including a career high 83 for the aforementioned Avs in 2007) before retiring as a member of the Blackhawks in 2012.
Right Wing: Alexander Radulov
Preds Career: I know... I know.... LOOK, I SAID I KNOW, OKAY?
We all know Radulov’s story by now, so we won’t harp too much on this here. The Predators took the dynamic Russian scorer with the 15th pick in the 2004 Draft. Radulov would make his debut in 2007 as one of the most-hyped prospects in Preds history. Radulov would go on to score 58 points as a 21-year-old in 2008 before... well... you know...
Post-Preds Glow Up: No matter how you feel about Radulov’s exit (either of them, I guess...), you can’t deny his game reached another level after leaving town. With Salavat Yulaev Ufa, whom he spurned Nashville to join, Radulov broke all sorts of scoring records, and won the league’s MVP award in 2011, leading to many pundits calling him the “best world’s best player not in the NHL.” He returned to the Preds with great fanfare for the team’s 2012 playoff run, putting up great numbers before... well... you know... again...
Radulov put up more video game-esque numbers in his return to Russia in 2013 before making the jump back to the NHL in 2016. After two 72-point seasons with Dallas (his NHL career-high), Radulov has appeared to have found his footing.
Center: Rich Peverley
Preds Career: One of the league’s best Cinderella stories actually started in Nashville. Peverley, who was undrafted, started his professional career in the ECHL before signing with the Milwaukee Admirals in 2006. His performance in the 2007 season (which saw him score 68 points in 66 games with the Ads) caught the eye of the Preds, who signed him to a contract for the rest of the season. Peverley spent the next year and a half bouncing between Nashville and Milwaukee, and even played all six games of the Preds’ 2008 playoff run. However, he couldn’t stick with the NHL club, and was eventually placed on waivers midway through the 2009 season.
Post-Preds Glow Up: Peverley was claimed off waivers by Atlanta and immediately made an impact, scoring 35 points in 39 games with the Thrashers in 2009. After another successful 2010 season, which saw him score a career-high 55 points, Peverley was traded to the Bruins in exchange for Blake Wheeler. In Boston, Peverley settled in to the Bruins’ third line, earning a reputation as one of the league’s most reliable two-way forwards. He won the Cup his first season in Beantown, then played two more season with the Bruins before moving on to Dallas. Sadly, his career ended early after collapsing on the bench during a game. In true (and alarming) hockey fashion, Peverley asked paramedics if he could finish the game after regaining consciousness.
And in Goal: Devan Dubnyk
Preds Career: Yes, if you completely forgot Devan Dubnyk was a Pred, you are far from alone. In fact, I envy you. Because Dubnyk’s short stint was Nashville was just the worst.
The Predators traded for the first round pick in 2014 following an up-and-down stint as the Oilers’ starter. Dubnyk was set to provide Nashville with some goaltending stability while Pekka Rinne recovered from a severe hip injury. However, it took just one game for Dubnyk to fall out of favor with then-head coach Barry Trotz, perhaps related to the rumors that he wasn’t willing to work with Mitch Korn. He let in five goals in his debut game against the Avs, then four goals in his only other start with Nashville. Carter Hutton took over starting duties until Rinne came back, and Dubnyk was sent to Milwaukee before being traded to Montreal two days later.
Post-Preds Glow Up: The comeback story started the following fall in Arizona. After a respectable three-month stint as the Coyotes backup, Dubynk was traded again to Minnesota. He immediately became the Wild’s starter. His remarkable second-half run, which included a 27-9-2 record with 6 shutouts, was enough to propel Minnesota into the postseason. He finished third in Vezina voting, but the comeback story was enough for Dubnyk to earn the Masterton Trophy in 2015. Since then, he’s evolved into one of the West’s more consistent goalies, and has earned three all-star nods between 2016 and 2019.
Did we miss any glow ups? Is there someone that SHOULD be on this list? Let us know in the comments below!