Predators Sign Iaroslav Askarov To Three-Year, Entry-Level Contract

Iaroslav Askarov. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators have signed goaltender Iaroslav Askarov to a three-year, entry-level contract that will begin in the 2022-23 season, President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced.

Askarov, 19-years-old, spent the majority of the 2021-22 campaign with Neva Saint Petersburg of the VHL, the second-highest professional league in Russia, going 5-2-2 with a 2.57 goals-against average in nine appearances. The goaltender was also featured in six games for the KHL’s SKA Saint Petersburg, posting a 1.81 goals-against average and .913 save percentage, allowing two-or-fewer goals in four of his appearances.

Originally drafted by the Predators in the first round (11th overall) of the 2020 NHL Draft, Askarov was the third goaltender ever selected by the franchise in the opening round of the draft. He also became the sixth Russian-born goaltender to be selected in the first round in NHL history.

As an 18-year-old in 2020-21, Askarov posted a 1.21 goals-against average and .951 save percentage in nine KHL appearances–leading league U-21 goaltenders in both categories–while recording a 5-4-0 record and one shutout.

Askarov made history on Nov. 27, 2019 by making his KHL debut at the age of 17, becoming the second-youngest goalie to ever start a game in the league. He owns an 8-5-2 record, 1.48 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in 16 career KHL performances; at the VHL level, he’s 19-8-6 with a 2.42 goals-against average and .915 save percentage.

The Omsk, Russia native has also starred internationally on several occasions, most recently at the last three editions of the World Junior Championship. He earned silver at the 2020 World Juniors and featured prominently in two of Russia’s international tournaments in 2019, winning gold at the U-18 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and taking home silver at the U-18 World Championship.

During the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Askarov made 35 saves in the championship game against Canada and finished the tournament with a 1.25 goals-against average and .960 save percentage. Despite playing against competition a year older than him, he earned Best Goaltender honors in the U-18 tournament and made 26 stops in Russia’s overtime loss. He also backstopped Russia to a gold medal in the 2018 World U-17 Hockey Challenge, where he was named a tournament all-star.

Mid-South Ford Dealers, Shelby’s Trio Partner With Clarksville’s F&M Bank Arena

Mid-South Ford Dealers and Shelby’s Trio are joining as founding partners of F&M Bank Arena arena in Clarksville.

The brand new arena is currently under construction and scheduled to open in 2023 under Sabertooth Sports & Entertainment (SS&E) management.

“We are thrilled that Ford and Shelby’s Trio have elected to join F&M Bank Arena as founding partners,” says Danny Butler, Vice President and General Manager of Ford Ice Centers and Project Manager for F&M Bank Arena. “We are excited to grow our relationship with Ford at the ice centers, which started in Antioch in 2014 and continued with Bellevue. Shelby’s Trio and the Maynard family are dedicated leaders in the Clarksville community, and we are looking forward to both long-term partnerships.”

F&M Bank Arena’s primary tenant will be Austin Peay State University, whose men’s and women’s basketball teams will call the facility home. The arena’s main arena bowl will also be able to add an ice surface, giving it the ability to host hockey tournaments and attract larger on-ice events or competitions much like the existing Ford Ice Centers in Antioch and Bellevue.

“The Mid-South Ford Dealers are thrilled to continue the tradition of supporting the Ford Ice Centers in our local communities to include the Ford Ice Center in Clarksville,” says Casey Jenkins, Chair of the Mid-South Ford Dealer Association and Owner of Jenkins and Wynne Ford in Clarksville. “This center will greatly impact Clarksville and surrounding communities for generations to come and we look forward to the growth and activity this opportunity brings with it.”

“Shelby’s Trio, Trio Hospitality and the Maynard family are pleased to enter this long-term relationship with SS&E and Austin Peay State University at F&M Bank Arena,” says Joe Maynard, a long-time business leader in the Clarksville community and owner of Shelby’s Trio and Trio Hospitality.

Ford Ice Centers will offer a variety of learn-to-skate programs at F&M Bank Arena, continuing its mission to expose and grow hockey to more Middle Tennessee residents.

F&M Bank Arena will hold approximately 6,000 fans for concerts, 5,500 for basketball games and 5,000 for hockey games.

Nashville Predators Foundation Awards Record-Breaking Grant Donation

The Nashville Predators Foundation, empowered by SmileDirectClub, distributed its largest-ever one-time donation with Helper Grant distributions totaling $776,075 on Monday, May 9 during a Grant Check Presentation Ceremony at Bridgestone Arena.

This announcement marks the 24th grant distribution by the Preds Foundation.

Through the 2022 allocation, a broad array of Nashville and Middle Tennessee non-profits received a record-high 176 grants. In total, the Predators Foundation has now provided over $8 million in grants since its inception in 1998.

“The Nashville Predators Foundation aims to fill the areas of need throughout the Middle Tennessee community, and we are honored to be able to give a franchise record breaking $776,075 of grants,” Nashville Predators Vice President of Community Relations Rebecca King says. “We are extremely proud to distribute these grants to 176 deserving nonprofits who are doing incredible work in our community.”

Charities granted donations on Monday include: American Cancer Society, American Special Hockey Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of Middle Tennessee, Rutherford County and South Central Tennessee, Habitat for Humanity Williamson-Maury, National Museum of African American Music, Tennessee Coalition to end Domestic and Sexual Violence and more.

Juuse Saros Named Vezina Trophy Finalist

Juuse Saros. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Predators goaltender Juuse Saros has been named a finalist for the 2021-22 Vezina Trophy for his incredible performance on the ice this season.

This announcement comes a day after teammate Roman Josi was named a finalist for the Norris Trophy.

Saros had big shoes to fill after future Hall of Famer Pekka Rinne announced his retirement last season, but he did not disappoint, recording 38 of the Predators’ 45 wins, the highest percentage (84.4%) among all NHL goaltenders.

His skill was one of the biggest reasons the Predators made their eighth consecutive playoff berth. Saros led the NHL in appearances (67), all of them starts, and total ice time (3,931:23); ranked second overall in shots against (2,107) and saves (1,934); and third in wins. The 27-year-old also won three of his four shootout appearances, stopping 11 of 12 attempts for a .917 save percentage.

Saros (38-25-3, 2.64 GAA, .918 SV%, four shutouts) is a first-time Vezina Trophy finalist and joins Rinne as the second goalie in franchise history to be honored. Rinne was a four-time Vezina finalist, capturing the award in 2017-18, finishing second twice and third once.

Saros sustained an ankle injury in one of the last games of the regular season and was unable to play for Nashville during the playoffs.

The Calgary Flames’ Jacob Markstrom and Igor Shesterkin of the New York Rangers join Saros as the other finalist for the trophy.

The winners of the 2022 NHL Awards will be revealed during the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, with exact dates, format and times to be announced later this month.

Predators Season Comes To An End With 5-3 Loss To Avalanche

Roman Josi. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Hockey season is over in Nashville as the Predators lose 5-3 to the Colorado Avalanche at Bridgestone Arena on Monday night (May 9).

This is the first time in franchise history that the Preds have been swept in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“I thought our guys played a good game tonight,” said head coach John Hynes at a postgame press conference. “It was right there, but [the Avalanche] ended up scoring. We talked about wanting to build off of Game 3 and getting a win here tonight, but unfortunately we weren’t able to do it. Our guys had a hard fought game, but unfortunately it didn’t go the way we wanted.”

The Preds played one of their best games all series, tying up the game 1-1 after the first period and again at 2-2 after the second period, both scored by Yakov Trenin. However, their fight for survival wasn’t enough as the Colorado Avalanche’s speedy offense and suffocating defense stifled any chance for a Preds lead.

The Preds took a 3-2 lead in the third period off of a Filip Forsberg goal, but it didn’t last for long. The Avalanche bounced back quick, scoring the equalizer and the eventual game-winning point. Norris Trophy Finalist Cale Makar played a brilliant game scoring one goal and assisting two goals, including the game-winner and the empty-netter.

“Obviously, we wanted more in the playoffs,” Preds defenseman Mattias Ekholmin said postgame. “If you look at the regular season, there were a lot of guys that performed really well and broke their personal highs. If you could look back at training camp, there weren’t many [who] thought we would be in a playoff position. We certainly did that and we’re really proud and happy over that, but once you get [to the playoffs], you want more.”

Back-up goaltender Connor Ingram had 33 saves last night for Nashville after starting in Games 2 and 3. Ingram was called up from the organization’s AHL affiliate right before the playoffs and replaced David Rittich early in Game 1 which the Preds went on to lose 7-2. All-star goalie Juuse Saros was ruled out for all four games after sustaining an injury in late April right before the postseason.

“At the end of the day [the Avalanche has] a hell of a team back there,” Ekholm added. “I think they’re going to give problems to a lot of teams coming down the stretch here. Again, they deserved to win. Four to nothing speaks loudly.”

The Preds finish the season with a record of 45-30-7 with 97 points. Though they have made the postseason in each of the last eight seasons, Nashville has failed to reach the second round of the playoffs the past four seasons.

The next big discussion for the Predators will be whether or not to resign Forsberg whose contract expires this summer. The organization has expressed wanting to keep Forsberg but no deal has been announced.

Roman Josi Named Finalist For Norris Trophy

Nashville Predators’ defenseman Roman Josi has been named a finalist for the 2021-22 James Norris Memorial Trophy after a historic performance this season, the NHL announced.

Along with Josi, Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche are the three finalists for the Norris Trophy, awarded “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”

Josi became the NHL’s highest-scoring defenseman in 29 years, posting 23 goals, 73 assists and 96 points in 80 games to help the Predators make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the eighth consecutive season. Only six defensemen in the past 50 years have surpassed Josi’s 96 points in a single campaign: Paul CoffeyPhil HousleyBrian LeetchAl MacInnisBobby Orr and Denis Potvin.

Josi set career highs in goals, assists and points; broke the single-season Nashville franchise records among all positions for points and assists; recorded the most assists by any NHL defenseman since Sergei Zubov‘s 77 in 1993-94; and led all blueliners with 26 multi-point games. His 281 shots on goal were 41 more than the second-ranked defenseman in 2021-22, and his 59 even-strength points were the most since Ray Bourque‘s 59 in 1986-87.

Josi is a Norris finalist for the second time and won in 2019-20. The Predators captain made franchise history by becoming the first Nashville blueliner to bring the Norris to Music City.

The winners of the 2022 NHL Awards will be revealed during the Conference Finals and Stanley Cup Final, with exact dates, format and times to be announced.

The NFL will announce the three finalists for the Vezina Trophy on Tuesday, May 10.

Predators To Host ‘Party in the Park’ At Nashville Walk of Fame For Playoff Games

Nashville Predators playoff watch party. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville Convention & Visitor Corp.

The Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp will host “Preds Party in the Park” on Saturday (May 7) and Monday (May 9) for Games Three and Four of Round 1 of the 2022 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs between the Preds and Colorado Avalanche.

The viewing party for the home playoff games are hosted at the Music City Walk of Fame Park, which is located across Rep. John Lewis Way from Bridgestone Arena.

The parties are free and open to the public and give fans who don’t have tickets a chance to cheer on the team at Bridgestone Arena. Music City Walk of Fame Park will activate two hours prior to game time. A large video screen will show the game feed, and food and drink options will be available for purchase on site. DJ Robert Luke will provide entertainment and attendees are invited to bring blankets and chairs.

The viewing party for Game Three on Saturday opens at 1:30 p.m. with the puck dropping at 3:30 p.m. The viewing party for Game Four on Monday opens at 6:30 p.m. and puck drops at 8:30 p.m.

Colorado defeated the Predators in the first two games of the series. Nashville suffered a devastating 7-2 loss in Game One when the team started backup goaltender David Rittich and was forced to put in Connor Ingram. In Game Two, Ingram put on a legendary performance forcing the game into overtime before the Avalanche scored the game winning goal, winning 2-1. Ingram saved 49 shots but it wasn’t enough to even the series.

The Predators are 34-27 all-time when playing a postseason game at Bridgestone Arena.

Press Kit: The Preds To Face Avalanche, Saros Out For First Two Games

Filip Forsberg and the Predators against the Colorado Avalanche. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Predators are back in the playoffs for the eighth straight season and are taking on the red hot Colorado Avalanche in the first round starting Tuesday, May 3 in Denver.

This series will be one of Nashville’s toughest over the past seasons taking on a Stanley Cup favorite in the Avalanche.

“We certainly belong in the playoffs,” said head coach John Hynes during a press conference. “We feel like we have a real strong identity, and we have some good experience with guys that have made some runs. We have a good amount of our younger guys that are in the lineup now and went through a pretty good playoff series against Carolina last year.”

Colorado had a fantastic season, finishing first in the Central Division and the Western Conference and second in the entire NHL.

The Preds, on the other hand, finished the in the last Wild Card spot with 97 points and in the month of April lost nine out of its last 15 games. They were able to snag a comeback 5-4 win over Colorado in the second-to-last game of the season.

Juuse Saros. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville Predators

A big factor for Nashville is not having star goaltender Juuse Saros for at least Games One and Two, the team announced on Monday (May 2).

“He’s doing his rehab, he’s working and he’s getting better,” said Hynes. “He’s around the team, he’s in all of our team meetings and he’s preparing himself mentally to make sure that when and if he’s ready, then he’s going to be ready to go… We’re just trying to do the best job we can to provide him with the opportunity to get better and he’s taken advantage of it.”

Without Saros, the Predators will have to use backups David Rittich or Connor Ingram for the first two games.

Rittich has played in 17 games this season, picking up six wins, three losses and four overtime losses. He sports a 3.57 goals against average (GAA) and a save percentage of 88.6 percent.

Ingram has spent most of his time with the organization’s AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, and has only played three games for the Preds, making his NHL debut on Oct. 24 against Minnesota. His record is 1-2 and has a GAA of 3.71 and save percentage of 87.9 percent.

These numbers are fair, but it will be difficult to overtake the Avalanche without Saros who had a GAA of 2.64 and a save percentage of 91.8 percentage in 67 games played.

Roman Josi. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Offensively, the Predators have had one of their best seasons ever behind Norris Trophy favorite Roman Josi and leading scorer Matt Duchene. Josi had a historic season, scoring 96 points, the most ever scored in franchise history. He leads the team in assists with 73.

“The playoffs are always exciting,” Josi shared. “It’s a long regular season with a lot of tough games. That’s why we play so hard in the regular season, to get to this point.”

Duchene is having his best season as a Pred, scoring 43 goals which was eighth best in the NHL. He also had 43 assists and 86 points–the most he’s ever had throughout his 15 year career.

Colorado’s offense will be led by Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon who lead the team in points and goals. Rantanen leads the team with 92 points and 36 goals. MacKinnon has 88 points and 32 goals.

Another issue for the Preds is the fact that Colorado has a duel-goalie threat in both Darcy Kuemper and Pavel Francouz.

Kuemper has played 57 games and sports a GAA of 2.54 and a 92.1 save percentage. Francouz has played 21 games and has a GAA of 2.55 and a 91.6 save percentage. Kuemper will most likely be tonight’s starter but having these two fantastic goaltender’s could be devastating to the Preds if their offense runs flat.

Tonight’s Game One will be a massive stress test for the Preds to see if their offense and defense can save them even with the absence of Saros. No announcement has been made regarding Saros’ availability for Game Three and on.

Preds vs. Avalanche NHL Playoffs Round One Schedule:
Game 1: Tuesday, May 3 at 8:30 p.m. – Predators at Avalanche, Ball Arena
Game 2: Thursday, May 5 at 8:30 p.m. – Predators at Avalanche, Ball Arena
Game 3: Saturday, May 7 at 3:30 p.m. – Avalanche at Predators, Bridgestone Arena
Game 4: Monday, May 9 at 8:30 p.m. – Avalanche at Predators, Bridgestone Arena
*Game 5: Wednesday, May 11, TBD – Predators at Avalanche, Ball Arena
*Game 6: Friday, May 13, TBD – Avalanche at Predators, Bridgestone Arena
*Game 7: Sunday, May 15, TBD – Predators at Avalanche, Ball Arena
*If Necessary