Predators’ Tanner Jeannot Is Not Your Average Rookie

Tanner Jeannot’s path to the NHL wasn’t the same as other top rookies in the league. He was undrafted in major juniors as well as undrafted in the NHL. Last season, he spent time playing down in the ECHL with the Florida Everblades before the American Hockey League (AHL) finally got going. He then spent time with the Chicago Wolves in the AHL. Jeannot put up 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in his 13 games with the Wolves before finally getting the call up to Nashville with the Predators. Since he only played in 15 games, he was still able to be considered a rookie for the 2021-22 season, setting him apart from some of this season’s other top rookies.

The Beginning of Something Big For Jeannot

Jeannot played his first game with the Predators on March 2, 2021. In that game, he blocked one shot and saw 6:28 of ice time. His ice time consistently went up from that point forward, and he averages 15:51 of ice time this season. However, he didn’t get his first NHL point until his third game with Nashville, where he collected a rebound off a Yakov Trenin shot and flipped the puck over the goaltender’s left pad.

Jeannot’s Physical Play

Jeannot plays a physical game and uses his big 6-foot-2, 207-pound frame to have his way with people on the ice. His playing style is precisely what head coach John Hynes is looking for. He isn’t a flashy goalscorer like Trevor Zegras, but he isn’t going to be pushed around after he scores his goals.

Tanner Jeannot Nashville Predators
Tanner Jeannot, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Jeannot plays on arguably the best third line in all of the NHL and is second in the league in hits with 257, behind only Radko Gudas of the Florida Panthers. He also leads the league in fighting majors with 13, which makes up for more than half of his 117 total penalties minutes, which puts him in second place in that category. He is a perfect fit for a third-line winger, but he could just as easily move up in the roster and play first-line minutes if need be because his offensive production is just as impressive.

Offensive Production That Just Keeps Coming

Jeannot has been a breath of fresh air on a team that was supposed to be in rebuild mode this season. He currently leads all NHL rookies in goals with 24 and is sitting in fifth place for points with 41. Considering he has spent most of his time playing on the third line with Colton Sissons and Trenin, this makes what he has done with his ice time even more impressive in the Calder Trophy race. Michael Bunting has spent time playing on the top line in Toronto alongside Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. Lucas Raymond, another Calder favorite, has been playing top-line minutes alongside Dylan Larkin and Tyler Bertuzzi. Both Raymond and Jeannot get power-play minutes every night as well.

Tanner Jeannot Nashville Predators
Tanner Jeannot, Nashville Predators (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Jeannot spends his special teams time on the top penalty kill unit. However, this isn’t saying he hasn’t played on that power-play unit because two of his goals have come on the power play. One last stat, he’s tied for the lead in the rookie category this year in game-winning goals with five; Zegras and Jacob Peterson are the other two rookies with five.

The Calder Trophy Race

The question here is, has Jeannot done enough to bring the Calder Trophy to Nashville for the first time in franchise history? Probably not. The Detroit Red Wings have two young guns that look like they are beginning to run away with it. This isn’t to say that Jeannot can’t gain the prestigious honor of being named the Calder Trophy winner. It’s just saying this year, the competition is stiff, and it will be a tough choice for voters to decide who is most deserving.

The decision to protect Jeannot in the expansion draft this past offseason has proven to be the right choice for the Predators, and at 24 years old, he is showing that he is one of the best young players in the league on both sides of the ice.

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