The Starting Six series comes to you to dive into the best player at each position all-time for every organization. The biggest and best at each position, with the most memorable moments in franchise history. Here is the Nashville Predators all-time lineup.
Starting Six: Nashville Predators All-Time Lineup
Compared to a majority of NHL franchises, the Nashville Predators organization is relatively young. The franchise first emerged in the NHL in 1998 and since then has fought hard for a winning pedigree. In 18 seasons, the organization has made the Stanley Cup Playoffs 10 times, including 7 of their last 10 seasons. This past season, the Predators had their brightest season to date by reaching their first Stanley Cup finals in history. Over the course of the Predators existence and under the guidance of their first and only GM, David Poile, Nashville has seen many other great moments and has seen many talented players dawn the Predator Blue and Gold sweaters. Although the organization has had many stars, only a select handful are worthy enough to be named to the Starting Six: Nashville Predators All-Time Lineup.
LW: Steve Sullivan (2003-2011)
On February 16th, 2004 the Nashville Predators made arguably their biggest trade in their history, acquiring the undersized forward. By trading for Sullivan, the Predators acquired their first true star and for the first time ever gave their fan base some hope for the playoffs. Sullivan immediately endeared himself to the fans by scoring a hat trick in his first game with the franchise. He then would go on to record 30 points in the teams final 24 games, propelling the Predators into the playoffs for the first time. After this season, the 5’8″, Timmins, Ontario native would remain in Tennessee until 2011. In 317 games while wearing blue and gold, Sullivan would record 100 goals and 263 points.
If his offensive prowess wasn’t enough for the Predator faithful to support him, his perseverance certainly was. After a serious back injury in February 2007, Steve Sullivan would undergo two back surgeries and would miss almost two full seasons. When he finally returned during the 2008-2009 season, he scored 32 points in 41 games. After the season ended, Sullivan would win the Bill Masterton Trophy, cementing his place in Nashville history as the teams first NHL Award winner. Sullivan is also part of team history as he is tied for the franchise record for career hat tricks.
Center: David Legwand (1998-2014)
For any Predators fan, this name will be one that they will surely be familiar with. On June 27, 1998, the Michigan born Legwand became the Nashville Predators first ever draft pick being selected second overall. For this reason alone, the 36 year old David Legwand could have made this list as being the organizations first franchise player. With that being said he still had a worthy enough career.
Legwand made his NHL debut in 1998 and after becoming a full time player in 1999, he went on to play the next 14 seasons in Smashville. After 14 seasons with the organization, Legwand played 956 games, currently placing him first in all time games played. In just under a thousand contests with the Preds, he contributed 210 goals and added 356 assists for 566 points, all of which are franchise records. He was also a dependable defensive player. Although Legwand’s regular season production wasn’t quite as spectacular as someone like Jason Arnott, his playoff numbers speak volumes. Whenever the Predators were looking to make some noise, Legwand was always there. In 47 playoff games, the two-way center contributed 28 points. This included the Predators first ever home playoff goal that Legwand scored against the Detroit Redwings in game 3 of the 2004 Stanley Cup Playoffs. However you feel about him, Legwand definitely deserves to be on this team with longevity, production, and the fact that he played a major part the Predators history.
RW: Martin Erat (2001-2013)
The Czech winger’s 163 goals, 318 assists, 481 points and 723 games are all second on the all-time franchise list in their respective categories. These numbers alone make him an easy choice for this All-Star lineup. To paint a clearer picture let’s remember that Martin Erat finished only 85 points behind Legwand for most points and he played 230 less games. In addition to scoring in the regular season, Erat also contributed 23 points in 46 post season games.
From 2003 to 2012, Erat was a big time offensive contributor, scoring a minimum of 16 goals. This stretch also included five, 50+ point seasons. His best season with the Predators came in 2011-2012 when he notched 58 points, including 19 goals.
Aside from being an offensive force, Erat also had a gritty side to him. Over the course of his time in Nashville, Erat racked up 347 hits, many bone shattering, and finished 2nd in penalty minutes. Although Erat is no Hall of Famer or NHL Allstar, he had a solid career with the Predators and deserves to be included on this list of all time Preds greats.
Defenseman: Shea Weber (2005-2016)
Shea Weber, a right-handed defenseman, easily makes the list. The face of the franchise defenseman arguably singlehandedly put the franchise on the map and is by far the Franchise’s greatest player. The former long time Predator’s captain is a NHL All Star, NHL hardest shot champion, and Norris Trophy finalist.
Weber, 31, was drafted in the second round in 2003 and made his NHL debut during the 2005-2006 season. After a successful rookie campaign, the Sicamous, BC native, recorded 17 goals in forty games in his sophomore season. In 763 career games, Weber recorded 166 goals, the most by any Predators blueliner, and 277 assists for 443 points. He currently sits third on the Preds all time career points leaderboard.
His most successful offensive season came in 2013 – 2014 after he netted 56 points. During that campaign, Weber matched his previous career high in goals of 23 that he set back in 2008. During the 2013-2014, he also added 26 power play points, twelve of which came from his booming slap shot. Although he is known for his booming shot, Weber is also an exceptional shutdown D-man. While with the Predators, Weber was the cornerstone of their blueline always facing off against opponents top forwards. During his tenure in Nashville, Weber led his team in hits and blocks. He was also an incredible plus 48. Ultimately, Weber’s time in Nashville came to an end last off season after 11 years in Middle Tennessee, after being traded to the Montreal Canadiens. He currently sits second in games played and goals, by any Nashville Predator. Weber is also the franchise leader in power play goals and tied for playoff points.He is no doubt a hall of fame calibre defenseman.
Defenseman: Kimmo Timonen (1998-2007)
Another elite defenseman that was once part of the Nashville Predators blueline and that is a franchise All Star is Kimmo Timonen. The first round picks career began after being traded to the Predators for future considerations. In 1998 he made his NHL debut on his way to eight seasons with the Predators. During the 2006-2007 campaign, his final season in Smashville, the Finnish D-man was named Predators Captain. That season the left-handed defenseman finished the season recording a career high in points, goals and assists. Currently, he is fourth among Predators’ scorers all-time with 301 points in 573 games played. There is no doubt that Timonen was the organizations first elite defenseman. For this reason alone he deserves a place on this lineup.
Goaltender: Pekka Rinne (2005-Present)
The final spot on this roster belongs to the only current Nashville Predator, Pekka Rinne, the teams best goaltender. This was by far the easiest decision to make, and quite frankly all NHL fans would agree with this selection.
Rinne got his first taste of NHL action in 2005 with the Preds playing two games. Two years later he made the full time jump to the NHL, making 52 appearances. Since then Rinne has been the Predators starting goalie. In 508 career games, the Finnish superstar has 269 wins, a 2.38 GAA and a .917 SV%. Furthermore, Pekka Rinne holds an insane amount of Predator records including most career minutes played, wins, and shutouts just to name a few. His career also includes many other accolades including NHL Allstar and Vezina finalist. For more perspective, one must remember that Rinne has backstopped the organization to almost all of its playoff success and as the team continues to improve, Rinne will play a vital role as they Predators look to capture their first Stanley Cup. Pekka Rinne is most definitely the Nashville Predators All Time greatest goaltender.
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