Fun Friday: The Jalen Ramsey Odyssey

Let’s put the star cornerback’s quote from 2018 to the test, because why not.

Welcome back to Fun Friday, the show that isn’t a show (because it’s a weekly article) where we take hockey-adjacent concepts and take them way too far (this is a fancy way of saying “Eamon just wants to talk about his dumb ideas with you”).

This week, we’re reminiscing on a quote from 2018, because why not? That year, Jalen Ramsey told the world that given six months of training time, he could become an NHL player; I wanted to put that to the test, so I created him in NHL 18 and watched his career. With the occasional alteration for narrative purposes, this is what I got.

Where We’re Starting

Ramsey is an incredible athlete, but he can’t skate; to bypass this, I made him into a goalie, because why not? I gave him 5-star athleticism and an excellent glove hand, but made his pad-related stats, vision, and positioning the lowest they could possibly be. That resulted in a 48 overall, 22-year-old goalie with low franchise potential (I did this to accelerate his growth so he had a shot of reaching the NHL, and also so that his development wouldn’t be capped really low).

After starting in 2017-2018 and simulating a year, I placed Jalen on the Milwaukee Admirals on a 3-year, minimum salary ELC and began the 2018-2019 season. I don’t have a capture card, so the following is the best I can do his career justice.

The Formative Years

In the beginning of Ramsey’s hockey endeavors, things went... well? The Pro Bowler posted a .922 save percentage and 2.40 GAA in his first two starts, earning a 1-1-0 record. I was expecting this created character to flop in spectacular fashion out of the gate, but surprisingly that didn’t end up being the case. Could Ramsey’s raw athleticism propel him to sustained success? No.

It’s been three months and the CPU signed a goalie that I cannot trade to the roster to supplant poor Jalen. He’s rocking a slick .850 SV% and 4.20 GAA in 12 starts, with a 2-10-0 record. Having inexplicably given up his football career to pursue hockey, Ramsey is the laughingstock of the sports world and he considers going back to Jacksonville in disgrace, having been relegated to the bench in such a short time.

Instead, he decides to march forward and at the very least fulfill his contract, however unhappy it might make him; he isn’t the quitting type. He doesn’t start another game that season. The Predators miss the playoffs.

The next year is better in some ways, but isn’t much of a change. Despite my best efforts to make Ramsey a full time backup, the game continues to fight me and sign free agents (a function which I have disabled) to force our man out of the lineup. Headed into the season JR was a 53 overall, seeing some solid improvement in his positioning, but he still posts horrendous averages (.857, 4.50) in his sophomore year.

Due to injuries to LITERALLY EVERYONE (the NHL simulations enjoy crippling whole rosters), Ramsey is actually on the Predators for a single week, but he never starts a game and is openly mocked by teammates and fans alike. Ramsey is sent down to the minors after Pekka Rinne recovers; he is heartbroken and remains that way. Heading into the 2020-2021 season, Ramsey is highly unlikely to sign a contract and continue his career in Nashville’s system, and the feeling is mutual for GM David Poile.

Year three sees some marked improvement; Ramsey heads into the season a 58 overall, despite his awful experiences in the regular season, and the 24-year-old looks like he has a renewed passion for the game. In a rotational backup role, he sees 15 starts and actually impresses with his improvements, posting an .890 SV% and 3.20 GAA along with a 7-5-3 record.

Poile hears good things from Milwaukee and loves the possible upside that the still-young goalie possesses, and with suggestions from his wunderkind of an assistant GM (what a smart guy that Eamon Smith is!) he offers Ramsey a two-year contract extension worth league minimum. The ex-Jaguar gains some ability over the course of the year and begins training in the offseason as a 60 overall, now boasting solid 2.5 star positioning stats. He enters 2021-2022 as a 64 overall goalie, still with low franchise potential.

Toiling In The Minors

Ramsey enjoys his first season as an established player in a true, undisputed backup role, garnering 28 starts and posting solid stats (14-10-4, .904 SV%, 3.00 GAA). At age 25, he ends the year as a 65 overall and trains up to 68 in the offseason. The next year he becomes something akin to a 50/50 starter and yet again impresses (38 starts, 20-15-3 record, .909 SV%, 2.85 GAA), bumping up to a 70 overall in season. The Predators extend the 26-year-old Ramsey for three more years, and the former cornerback can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel; he has a clear path to being a starter and an NHLer in the future.

This is where I got stuck for a little bit. Ramsey had to sit in the minors and gain overall stat points before he would be allowed to start in the NHL for our CPU coach, or else the game would automatically scratch him. I had to wait an additional two years for him to get to a 77 overall, and by that time he had become a 28-year-old goalie with exact backup potential. Sadly, he just took too long to develop, and would never become a true star like he could have been in the NFL; all of his potential seemed wasted.

Start of an NHL Career

We’re now in 2025-2026, and Jalen Ramsey is starting the season opener as the backup goalie for the Nashville Predators. His first career start comes on the road against the San Jose Sharks, led by Timo Meier and...Auston Matthews? The 29-year-old rookie has an admirable beginning to his NHL career, finishing his first game with a 26-save effort in a 4-3 victory. Ramsey goes on to post a record of 10-8-3 with a .908 SV% and 2.85 GAA behind an 88 overall Martin Jones, who is somehow still in the league and legitimately great (.920 SV%, 2.45 GAA, 38-12-11 record, won the Vezina).

The Predators head into the postseason as a wild card against the first place St. Louis Blues and Steven Stamkos, because why not. Nashville ends up losing the series in 5 games, and Ramsey only makes an appearance in relief of Jones when the Preds get smoked 6-2 on home ice in game 3.

Some randomly generated rookie takes home Calder honors, but Ramsey has fulfilled his promise of becoming an NHLer, and the national media has followed him all year with great interest. He wins the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy for his perseverance and dedication to the game and openly weeps on the stage, thanking coach Karl Taylor, mentor Anders Lindback, and GM David Poile for giving him a chance to learn the game and prove himself. He wins multiple ESPYs for Comeback Player of the Year and Best Moment (the moment in question being his first NHL game in Nashville, in front of his whole family), and ends up signing back with Nashville for a two-year, one way contract worth $3 million in total.

Becoming an All-Star

Heading into the 2026-2027 season, Ramsey is an 80 overall backup at age 30. His athleticism has declined to 4.5 stars, but his other stats continue to rise thanks to his strong play. Martin Jones suffers a groin injury in week 3, prompting Ramsey to take over as a full-time NHL starter for the first time in his career. In a year that reminds everybody of Tim Thomas’s explosion onto the scene, Ramsey comes out of the gate white hot with a .918 SV%, 2.60 GAA and a 20-12-5 record. He bumps up to an 82 overall by the end of the season and finishes 34-22-10, with a .915 SV% and 2.73 GAA. Ramsey gets Vezina votes for the first time in his career and finishes in 9th place for the award; he makes his first All-Star appearance thanks to fan voting as a landslide choice for the Central Division.

The Predators finish second in the Central Division with 54 wins behind Patrik Laine’s Winnipeg Jets and are set to face the Dallas Stars in the first round. Ramsey enters the postseason as the starter and wins his first two games on home ice. The Jaguar (his nickname, an obvious reference to his football days) ends up going 4-2 with a .910 SV% and 2.93 GAA in the first round, advancing to face the Jets in his second postseason series. Shockingly, he posts a shutout in game one in Winnipeg and ends up going 4-1 with a .917 SV% and 2.25 GAA, taking Nashville to their second Western Conference Finals appearance in franchise history. Sadly the Preds were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champions in Calgary, but Ramsey had a career year and went up to an 84 overall in the offseason.

Undisputed Starter

The Predators let Martin Jones walk in free agency and re-sign Ramsey for another three years, making him the de facto starter. Now a fan favorite, the veteran goalie’s face hangs from banners in front of Bridgestone Arena. The pro shop sells more Ramsey memorabilia than any other merchandise, cardboard standees and classroom banners hang across the state, and the Nashville star is the focal point of the team’s marketing alongside captain Filip Forsberg and free agent addition Matthew Barzal. JR posts solid, if unspectacular numbers, going 30-21-11 with a .910 SV% and 2.78 GAA.

The Predators end up making the playoffs as a wild card team again, but due to rough goaltending by Ramsey (.899 SV%, 3.50 GAA) and poor defense they are swept by the Stars in the first round.

The following year sees a 32-year-old, 83 overall Ramsey competing with new acquisition Matt Murray for the starting job. Murray is better by overall but struggles early in the season before going down with an injury (fortunately for me), handing Ramsey his starting role back. The Jaguar responds by having the best season of his career, going 40-18-7 with a .922 SV% and 2.38 GAA behind a 99 overall defense. He starts for the Central Division All-Star team for the second time in his career and has legitimate Vezina buzz behind him. The Predators win the Central Division again and are the second-best team in the West, behind only Johnny Gaudreau’s dynastic Calgary Flames (they’ve won three Cups in eight years).

Nashville faces the Ducks in the opening round and finishes them with a resounding sweep, in which Ramsey posts absurd numbers for a goalie of his abilities (still an 83 overall, has a .930 SV% and 2.30 GAA). The Preds take on the Chicago Blackhawks in the next round and win in six games, again behind incredibly impressive performance from Ramsey (.942 SV%, 1.70 GAA). All I can say is thank goodness NHL 18’s goalie ratings system is broken, because otherwise this would be a lot more boring.

Nashville faces Calgary in the Western Conference Final yet again, but this time the Preds get the better of Johnny Hockey, winning in seven games. Ramsey’s play nosedives in the WCF, but he walks into Nashville’s second Finals appearance in franchise history with a .928 SV% and 2.45 GAA along with a 12-5 record. Many pick him to be the ultimate Conn Smythe winner, win or lose.

The Predators lose in seven games in a hard-fought series against...the Pittsburgh Penguins. Ramsey doesn’t win the Conn Smythe, Nashville loses on home ice in a series-deciding game yet again, and I am very sad sitting on my couch and watching this. Ramsey walks into the offseason dejected; his championship prize was right in front of him, and he knows he’ll likely never get that opportunity again.

Now 33, Ramsey drops in overall again to an 82. Matt Murray takes most of the starts next season after recovering from his multiple injuries and overtaking Ramsey, who had a cold stretch to begin the year. Ramsey ends up going 13-8-7 with a .915 SV% and 2.80 GAA, marking him as a solid backup goalie.

Nashville again makes the playoffs after finishing second in the division, but falls short in the first round to the Blackhawks in five games. The Preds walk into the offseason uncertain if they’ll bring Ramsey back, despite clamoring from fans, given that they have a solid young goalie in the pipeline (some randomly generated Swede named Gustav Lidstrom with medium-elite potential that they picked 22nd overall a while back).

The 34-year-old Ramsey ends up coming back on a two-year deal to back up Murray until Lidstrom is ready. He goes 14-8-5 with a .912 SV% and 3.00 GAA, both poor marks compared to his career averages. The Predators miss the playoffs for the first time in Ramsey’s career, and fans begin to wonder whether or not the still-athletic goalie will be able to stay in the NHL the upcoming season with Lidstrom challenging.

A 79 overall Ramsey begins his final contract year backing up Matt Murray yet again. Shockingly, Ramsey plays in vintage form in a higher percentage of starts (Murray got injured again), going 24-15-5 with a .919 SV% and 2.50 GAA. The Predators still end up missing the postseason because Matt Murray is awful in his return and the team has lost a lot of key assets to free agency (paying Murray a lot of money didn’t help). Ramsey is not extended and walks into free agency for the first time in his career, looking to stay in the show just a little longer.

The Retirement Tour

Ramsey is 36 now, and at 76 overall he’s an AHLer again. However, everything isn’t so bad; the Predators end up signing him late in free agency to play this role now that Lidstrom has been called up. Ramsey takes a one-year deal at max AHL pay and dominates, going 38-15-8 with a .928 SV% and 2.40 GAA. The Admirals end up winning their division and crush their competition en route to winning the Calder Cup, the only championship of Ramsey’s career.

The veteran goalie ends up retiring at age 37, beloved by Predators fans for his personality, on-ice performance, dedication to the organization and the game of hockey, and charity work in the Nashville community. His career is chronicled in his autobiography that’s released not long after his retirement, titled “So You Think You Can Be a Goalie, Huh?” Ramsey ends up joining the Jr. Predators Hockey Program as a goalie coach, enjoying his retirement while still getting to be around the game he grew to love.

Career NHL Statistics and Awards

Regular Season: 165-100-48 record (313 total), .914 SV%, 2.72 GAA, 28 shutouts

Postseason: 23-20 record (43 overall), .913 SV%, 2.85 GAA, 3 shutouts

Awards: 2025-2026 Masterton winner, 2026 Comeback Player of the Year ESPY, 2026 Best Moment ESPY, 2027 and 2029 NHL-All Star, 2x Vezina Trophy Finalist (9th place, 3rd place)

Things I Altered

  • I ensured Ramsey stayed with the Predators so I could help his career along, because otherwise this article would be boring
  • I let Martin Jones walk in free agency
  • I made up the Masterton win, All-Star nominations, ESPYs and Vezina votes because NHL18 is silly and doesn’t show you those things (minus the Masterton, which is seemingly randomly selected from high overall players).
  • I started Ramsey ahead of Jones and Murray even when they came back from long-term injuries (he was a hot goalie, so I felt this was fair).
  • I prevented Gustav Lidstrom from coming up as long as I felt was reasonable./

I hope y’all enjoyed this Fun Friday. Sorry it’s a bit late, this took a long time to make and I legitimately thought today was Thursday. Have a happy weekend everybody.