by Jas Faulkner, Nashville Correspondent
If you’ve managed to survive the 400+ pounds of D-Man keeping Pekka Rinne company, you’ve still only won part of the battle to get the puck between Nashville’s pipes. Nashville’s wingers provide a great combination of toughness and hockey smarts. The fans adore these guys with good reason; but no one in their right mind would want to feel the chill run down their spine as the scraping of their skates get louder, they get bigger and then the last thing you can remember is seeing the whites of Wade Belak’s eyes.
Sergei Kostitsyn The Belarusian junior phenom will make his Nashville debut this season. His NHL stats belie the talent and potential that he exhibited as a junior. Given the talent Nashville has for developing great players from guys with talent and a lot of potential, it will be exciting to see what happens with Kostitsyn this year.
Nick Spaling Former Kitchener Ranger and Milwaukee Admirals favorite Spaling saw his first playoff action last season in Nashville. Appearing in all five playoff appearances for Nashville last season is a big deal, make no mistake about that. However, playing for cups is almost old hat for this young man, who has suited out for runs for both the Calder and the Memorial Cups before finding a home in the Big Cats’ Den.
2009-2010 SEASON STATISTICS
Steve Sullivan 2010/11 will mark Sullivan’s sixth season with the Predators. Be sure to pack an extra hat, because with Sully in the rink, odds are good that one of them will be making a trip to the ice at Bridgestone. He’s one of the A’s behind Weber’s C and the guy you can depend on to advocate for his teammates when whistles blow, arms are waved and calls are placed to the home office in Tronna. Aside from toughness and experience, Sully has delivered some serious hardware to Nashville, bringing home the Masterton in 2009.
Wade Belak It’s Wade’s world and we’re just living in it. He’s known for both his big, scary presence on the ice as one of Nashville’s toughest enforcers and for his ability to deliver the funny and wrangle fans and pros in his video segments for FS-TN’s broadcasts and his Wednesday broadcasts from Blackstone Brewery.
JP Dumont Da Bears had Walter Payton, in Nashville we have animal loving, great dad and husband and all-around community guy JP Dumont. Don’t write him off as a softie on the ice, though. When it comes to making mischief for the other side’s D, JP is one of the usual suspects, racking up assists that end up with a teammate lighting the lantern during those critical moments.
Martin Erat Soccer’s loss is our gain, as Erat has mentioned in interviews that he would have played professional soccer (football to the rest of the world) if the whole blades on ice at 30+mph thing hadn’t worked out. When he’s not representing Music City in the NHL, Erat wears the laundry of his home country, having taken home a medal in the process during the 2006 games. He brings the pressure on the opposition during regulation play and has been the cause of many an opposing goalie dropping his head in shame as the club’s leader for shootout goals.
Matt Halischuk This young right winger came to us as part of New Jersey’s trade agreement for Jason Arnott. He also brings some serious credentials, having been named to the OHL’s first All Star Team and winning the Parson’s Trophy during the 07/08 season.
Patric Hornqvist You can find a recent writeup of what Hornqvist brings to the table here. Patric is one of a handfull of players who saw last season as their time to break out and make a name for themselves. He’s gotten plenty of love from the Powers That Be at the NHL and his name (and Pred Radio’s Tom Callahan’s voice) were featured in Verizon’s ad for their NHL app service thinigie.
Andreas Thuresson Sorry Milwaukee, it looks like Nashville is going to welcome back the 22-year-old Swedish Elite alum this season. He led the Ads in scoring during their run at the Calder playoffs last season, so we should be seeing great things from him this year.
Jordin Tootoo Who? (Okay, to the eighty kajillion G.O.A.L. attendees whose parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles informed me that Tootoo was their kids’ favorite Predator, EVER! I kid! I KID! Please don’t hurt me. ) He’s the pest, the enforcer and one of the marquee names who continues to put a face on the franchise for fans of the game here in Nashville. In his native Canada, he’s the guy you hate to see wearing the opposition laundry and the one you can’t help but love for making it the big league. Last season fans saw a different side to his development as his play on the ice was more disciplined and controlled. My prediction? He’s going to exhibit Sully’s combination of toughness and smarts in the coming seasons.
Joel Ward Notable for being one of the Predators’ “delivery men” Ward’s improved puck control and speed contributed to his hitting a career high for assists last season. As a collegiate player, Ward garnered accolades as “Rookie of the Year” and MVP. His multipoint performance during the 09/10 playoffs shows why he’s such an asset to Nashville’s roster.
2009-2010 SEASON STATISTICS
Hope you enjoyed that helping of wings. Coming up next? The centers take the ice, and after that we’ll look at some of the bloggers and broadcasters who help make Nashville the up and coming hockey town that it is.