The Nashville Predators’ all-time all-drafted team is going to win a lot of games by a 1-0 score. Which is to say, they’re not real dangerous up front – Alexander Radulov is the biggest game-breaker and he’s never scored 30 goals in a season – but they’re absolutely loaded on defence.
But you probably knew that already. This is the Predators we’re talking about, after all. The franchise has been built around ‘D’ ever since arriving in the league in 1998.
Let’s take a look at Nashville’s squad comprised of its best-ever draft selections.
Generally speaking, the Predators’ forward group is weak down the middle – at least from an offensive standpoint – but there is scoring punch on the wings. David Legwand, the Preds’ first-ever draft pick and all-time leading scorer, centres the top line between right winger Radulov and fan-favourite Scott Hartnell on the left side. Legwand brings two-way sensibility, Radulov drives the offence and Hartnell bangs, bumps and does the dirty work.
On the second line, it’s centre Colin Wilson with wingers Patric Hornqvist and Kevin Fiala. Like Legwand on the top line, Wilson’s all-around acumen means he’s the defensive conscience for this unit, while the hardworking Hornqvist – famously the last pick at 230th overall in the 2005 draft – and Fiala provide the scoring element.
The third line features centre Colton Sissons in a checking role, with right winger Martin Erat adding an offensive dimension and big-bodied Austin Watson bringing physicality on the left side. The fourth line is a lower-case scoring trio with Craig Smith between Viktor Arvidsson and Jimmy Vesey.
While the Predators’ forwards might not intimidate too many opponents, the defence corps is another story altogether. It’s basically six guys with Norris Trophy talent.
The first pairing is the duo who put Nashville on the hockey map, with Shea Weber and Ryan Suter teaming up just like the good old days. Do we really have to explain why these two are so good together? The short answer: their combination of skill, leadership, desire and chemistry makes them excellent at everything. Weber and Suter, both of whom were both drafted in 2003, would be on the ice for 30-plus minutes and every important situation – except they don’t have to be, because there’s two more superb pairings right behind them.
The second ‘D’ duo features a couple of current Preds in captain Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm. Josi has emerged as a perennial Norris candidate for his mobility and three-zone play, while Ekholm has added a dose of offence to his physical, defensive brand. The third pairing teams up Seth Jones and Dan Hamhuis, just another twosome that can do it all and do it very, very well.
Finally, of course, it’s franchise goalie Pekka Rinne as the starter in net. An eighth-round pick at 258th overall in 2004, Rinne has held down the No. 1 job as an elite NHL stopper for the past dozen years, with Juuse Saros as his trusty backup.
Here are other players who were considered for Nashville’s all-time all-drafted team. At centre: Denis Arkhipov (60th, 1998) and Matt Hendricks (131st, 2000). At right wing: Scottie Upshall (sixth, 2002), Jordin Tootoo (98th, 2001) and Adam Hall (52nd, 1999). At left wing: Nick Spaling (58th, 2007) and Gabriel Bourque (132nd, 2009). On defence: Ryan Ellis (11th, 2009), Samuel Girard (47th, 2016), Karlis Skrastins (230th, 1998), Kevin Klein (37th, 2003) and Cody Franson (79th, 2005). In net: Anders Lindback (207th, 2008).
Here’s a look at Nashville’s all-time all-drafted team. The 20-player lineup is based on players’ entire NHL body of work.
David Legwand (2nd, 1998)
Colin Wilson (7th, 2008)
Colton Sissons (50th, 2012)
Craig Smith (98th, 2009)
Alexander Radulov (15th, 2004)
Patric Hornqvist (230th, 2005)
Martin Erat (191st, 1999)
Viktor Arvidsson (112th, 2014)
Scott Hartnell (6th, 2000)
Kevin Fiala (11th, 2014)
Austin Watson (18th, 2010)
Jimmy Vesey (66th, 2012)
Shea Weber (49th, 2003)
Ryan Suter (7th, 2003)
Roman Josi (38th, 2008)
Mattias Ekholm (102nd, 2009)
Seth Jones (4th, 2013)
Dan Hamhuis (12th, 2001)
Pekka Rinne (258th, 2004)
Juuse Saros (99th, 2013)