The Nashville Predators are celebrating their 15th anniversary this season since coming into the league in the 1998-99 season. With that in mind, we thought we’d take a look at the top 15 defensemen in Predators franchise history.
Here are the top 15 defensemen in Predators history according to Robby Stanley…
15. Bill Houlder… Houlder didn’t put up gaudy offensive stats during his time with the Predators but did provide a quality veteran presence. He played four seasons with the Predators from 1999-2003 on teams that weren’t very good. However, Houlder could be relied upon most of the time to hold up physically. After only playing 57 games in the 1999-2000 season, Houlder played in 81 games in 2000-01 and in all 82 games for both the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.
14. Cody Franson… Franson only played two seasons with the Predators, but was effective during his time in Nashville. He played 61 games in the 2009-10 season and compiled 21 points. Franson followed that up in the 2010-11 campaign with a 29-point season in 80 games played. In Franson’s two seasons in Nashville, he had a plus-25 rating. He also assisted on arguably the most important goal in franchise history in Game 5 of the 2011 Western Conference Quarterfinals series against Anaheim when Shea Weber scored to send the game into overtime with under a minute left in regulation.
13. Andy Delmore… Like Franson, Andy Delmore only played two seasons for the Predators. He was also effective on the offensive side of things, posting 72 points (34 g, 38 a) in two seasons with the Predators. That’s pretty impressive offensive numbers for a defensemen. However, Delmore was also a minus-30 during that span. Those teams Delmore played for in 2001-02 and 2002-03 were a combined 55-76-26-7.
12. Francis Bouillon… Bouillon actually played for the Predators on two separate occasions, first making a brief stop in the Music City for four games in the 2002-03 season and then making a much bigger impact for the Predators from 2009-2012. In Bouillon’s second stop in Nashville, he was a very valuable player because he was able to fill any role on defense that Nashville needed him to fill. He spent some time on the top pairing with Shea Weber at times, on the second pairing with Kevin Klein and also spent time on the third pairing. He could fill whatever role the Predators needed him to fill defensively, and that’s why he’s cracked the top 15.
11. Greg Zanon… Zanon appeared in 230 regular season games for the Predators over the span of four seasons from 2005-2009. He wasn’t known for his offensive numbers. Zanon put up a combined 26 points in those four seasons. However, he was known for being a solid defensive presence, killing penalties and blocking a whole lot of shots. Zanon was a fearless competitor, unafraid to throw his body in front of pucks on a regular basis.
10. Mark Eaton… Eaton spent five seasons with the Predators from 2000-2006 and was solid. He didn’t blow anybody away offensively, putting up 45 points in five seasons with the Predators. He was simply a reliable, solid defenseman. Eaton appeared in 286 regular season games for the Predators and 11 playoff games. He had a plus-10 rating during his time in Nashville.
9. Karlis Skrastins… Skrastins played in 307 regular season games for the Predators from the 1998-99 season to the 2002-03 season. He was in Nashville at a time where the Predators were just coming into the league, and they never made the playoffs during his time in Music City. One of the most impressive things about Skrastins was his durability. He played in all 82 regular season games for three consecutive seasons with the Predators from 2000-2003.
8. Drake Berehowsky… Berehowsky played three seasons for the Predators from 1998-2001, appearing in 219 games. He was able to put up points from the blue line, posting a combined 73 points in three seasons. However, Berehowsky was more known during his time in Nashville for his fighting and penalty minutes. Berehowsky compiled 327 penalty minutes in three seasons with the Predators. It was never dull watching him play.
7. Roman Josi… Josi is still forming his legacy in Nashville, but it’s easy to see why he’s been very effective early on in his career. Through 108 NHL games so far, Josi has compiled 35 points and has proven that he can play against the oppostion’s top line on a nightly basis. Josi’s biggest jump so far in his career came in the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season when Josi played alongside Shea Weber for the majority of the season and got better as the season moved along. His impressive play during the first two seasons of his career was rewarded by the Predators when he signed a seven-year, $28 million contract in the summer of 2013. As the years move forward, Josi will almost assuredly make his way into the top five of this list.
6. Marek Zidlicky… Zidlicky played in Nashville for four seasons and was fairly durable during his time. He appeared in 307 of a possible 328 regular season games in his four seasons in Nashville from 2003-2008. Zidlicky was a very good offensive defenseman, collecting 175 points (35 g, 140 a). His defensive capabalities were an issue at times, but he was definitely a very dynamic offensive player from the blue line. He was very good at making the first pass to spring one of Nashville’s forwards free for a quality scoring chance.
5. Dan Hamhuis… Hamhuis was a very good two-way defenseman for the Predators during his time in Nashville. He was drafted by the Predators in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft and played in Nashville for six seasons. He was nearly always available, playing in 483 of a possible 492 regular season games. Hamhuis put up 161 points (32 g, 129 a) from 2003-2010. He was famous for delivering devasting hip checks along the boards. Hamhuis was another defenseman that could play in any role the Predators needed him to play.
4. Kevin Klein… Klein was drafted by the Predators at the 2003 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville and has been a part of the organization ever since. He has played in 374 regular season games for the Predators so far and has compiled 79 points (15 g, 64 a). Klein’s job isn’t putting up points from the blue line. He’s developed into a great penalty killer and shot-blocker in his six full seasons with the Predators. It took Klein a while to stabilize his NHL career. He appeared in two games for the Predators in 2005-06, three in 2006-07 and 13 in 2007-08 before finally landing a permanent roster spot. Klein has grown into a very reliable defenseman for the Predators.
3. Kimmo Timonen… Timonen played eight seasons for the Predators from 1998-2007 and was in a lot of ways their first star player. He was an excellent defenseman during his time in Nashville. Timonen compiled 301 points (79 g, 222 a) during his time with the Predators and was their best defenseman for the overwhelming majority of that time. He could move the puck very well and had a sense of calm about him on the ice. Timonen never seemed to panic, regardless of the situation. He was very consistent over a long period of time, which is one of the reasons why Timonen is one of the best defensemen in Predators history.
2. Ryan Suter… Suter is hands down the smartest defenseman to ever play for the Predators and really one of the smartest defensemen to ever play the game period. He was drafted by the Predators in 2003 and spent seven seasons in Nashville, compiling 238 points (38 g, 200 a) in 542 regular season games. Suter is the best passing defenseman the Predators have ever had, and he made the game look like it came so easily to him. He also played over 25 minutes a night on a regular basis and made it look effortless. Suter left the Predators via free agency in the summer of 2012.
1. Shea Weber… Weber is the most complete defenseman the Predators have ever had. He’s got a world famous slap shot, an intimidating physical presence and a very high hockey I.Q. Weber was also drafted by the Predators in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and has compiled 299 points (112 g, 187 a) in 546 regular season games. He has the most goals by a defenseman in the history of the franchise and has been the captain of the Predators since the 2010-11 season. Weber has also put up 20 points in 43 career playoff games. He’s one of the best defensemen in the league, and he’s the best defenseman the Predators have ever had.