Predators Bulk Up Roster With String Of Free Agency Signings

The Nashville Predators have made a string of free agency signings, bulking up their roster after re-signing Filip Forsberg to a max contract.

These signings including re-signing Cole Smith, as well as signing Mark Jankowski to a one-year deal, defenseman Roland McKeown to a two-year deal and adding goaltender Kevin Lankinen to a one-year, $1.5 million contract.

List of Nashville Predators’ recent signings:

Jimmy Huntington (forward) – Accepted qualifying offer

  • Scored 13 goals, 22 assists and 35 points during the 2021-22 campaign, which he spent split between Milwaukee and Syracuse.

Devin Cooley (goaltender) – Accepted qualifying offer

  • Spent a majority of his first full professional season with Milwaukee in 2021-22. He suited up in 24 AHL games, going 9-10-4 with a 3.06 goals-against average.

Jordan Gross (defenseman) – Two-year, $750,000/$775,000

  • Spent 2021-22 with the Colorado Eagles where he earned a spot on the AHL’s First All-Star Team and won the Eddie Shore Award for most outstanding defenseman. He recorded 65 points (10 goals, 55 assists) in 61 games.

Kevin Gravel (defenseman) – Two-year, $750,000/$775,000

  • Played in an AHL career-high 59 games for the Stockton Heat in 2021-22. He recorded 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists). He picked up three assists in 13 Calder Cup Playoff games, helping the Heat reach the Western Conference Final.

Roland McKeown (defenseman) – Two-year, $750,000/$775,000

  • McKeown hit the 20-point mark for the fourth consecutive AHL season in 2021-22, tallying three goals and 20 points in 61 games for the Colorado Eagles. He made eight assists in nine Calder Cup Playoff games for Colorado, which reached the Pacific Division Finals.

Kiefer Sherwood (defenseman) – One-year, $750,000

  • He played in 11 NHL games for the Colorado Avalanche in 2021-22, tallying two points (1 goal, 1 assist). He spent the bulk of last season in the AHL with the Colorado Eagles, being named to the Second All-Star Team after leading his team and finishing fifth in the league in points with a career-high 75 (36 goals-, 39 assists); his 36 goals were also a career high and were the third-most in the AHL.

Mark Jankowski (forward) – One-year, $750,000

  • He spent 2021-22 in the Buffalo Sabres’ organization, suiting up in 19 NHL and 32 AHL games. With the Sabres, Jankowski tallied five points (2 goals, 3 assists.) At the AHL level, Jankowski had 10 goals and 27 points while adding seven points in 10 Calder Cup Playoff appearances for Rochester.

Cole Smith (forward) – One-year, $750,000

  • He skated in eight NHL games for the Predators in 2021-22, dishing out 21 hits while averaging 8:50 of ice time. He spent the majority of last season with the Milwaukee Admirals, where he appeared in 59 games and posted 41 points (21 goals, 20 assists), the fourth-most on his team.

Kevin Lankinen (goaltender) – One-year, $1.5 million

  • Lankinen appeared in 32 games for the Chicago Blackhawks last season, starting 29 of them, and recorded an 8-15-6 record with a 3.50 goals-against average and .891 save percentage. During his rookie campaign, Lankinen posted a .909 save percentage and ranked among the league’s leaders in saves with 1,095 (third); shots against with 1,204 (third); and games played with 37 (seventh). Lankinen finished 13th in Calder Trophy voting in 2020-21 and was the fourth-highest placing goalie.

Preds 2022 NHL Draft Round-Up: Nashville Adds Six New Players

Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The 2022 NHL Draft is over and the Nashville Predators leave Montreal with six new players, including 18-year-old Finnish star Joakim Kemell, who the Preds selected with the 17th overall pick.

“He’s versatile, but the first thing about him is that he’s a goal scorer,” says Predators European Scout Janne Kekalainen on Kemell. “He’s an extremely confident kid and has a presence and swagger about him. He can shoot from all places and knows how to finish.”

Kemell skated in his first full professional season with JYP of the Finnish Liiga in 2021-22, tallying 23 points (15 goals, 8 assists) in 39 games. He led all Liiga rookies and was tied for third on his team in goals with 15. His 23 points were the second-most among U-19 skaters in his league.

The Preds went on to select five more players during the two-day draft and made some trades along the way to help better the team for this upcoming season. Nashville went on to trade their second pick of the fourth round, No. 122 overall (Dennis Hildeby), to Toronto for a fourth-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.

“We’re very happy with this year’s draft class,” shares Predators Assistant General Manager/Director of Scouting Jeff Kealty. “It started with our first-round pick falling to us, and then in the later rounds, we were able to get some players who our scouts were excited about heading into the draft. We let the best player guide what we do, but when you can fill in different spots and balance things out a bit, it’s always a good thing as well, and I feel we accomplished that.”

Nashville opened the third round with two early picks, selecting forward Adam Ingram at No. 82 overall and defenseman Kasper Kulonummi at the No. 84 overall pick.

Ingram was the No. 27-ranked North American skater per NHL Central Scouting, and he produced more than a point-per-game rate during his rookie USHL campaign in 2021-22, tallying 55 points (26 goals, 29 assists) in 54 contests with the Youngstown Phantoms. Ingram, a West St. Paul, Minnesota native, earned a spot on the USHL’s All-Rookie Team and led Youngstown in both goals and points. The 6-foot-2, 161-pound center is committed to play collegiate hockey at St. Cloud State in 2022-23.

“He’s a tall, wiry, skilled and smart hockey player,” Predators North American Scout David Westby notes. “We think he’s going to be a big kid when he is done developing physically. He’s a competitive kid who can play wing and center, sees the ice well and can make plays.”

Kulonummi, a 6-foot, 178-pound native of Helsinki, Finland, spent most of the 2021-22 campaign with Jokerit’s U-20 squad, posting 29 points (3 goals, 26 assists) in 40 games while serving as an alternate captain. He led all U-19 blueliners in his league in assists (26) and was third in points.

“He has a high hockey IQ,” Kekalainen says. “He’s extremely intelligent and manages the game well, especially with the puck, always giving himself options and making the right plays. He jumps into the play at the right time when needed. He approaches things with his smarts and is able to stay out of trouble because of that.”

With three picks left, the Predators selected forward Cole O’Hara at No. 114 overall in the fourth round. He completed his second USHL season with the Tri-City Storm in 2021-22, finishing tied for second on his team in goals (25) and third in both points (73) and assists (48).

Nashville used its fifth-round pick (146th overall) to pick up Graham Sward, a defenseman from the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. The Abbotsford, British Columbia native scored 10 goals, 33 assists and 43 points in 57 games for Spokane in 2021-22.

With the final pick to wrap up the 2022 Draft, the Preds selected forward Ben Strinden in the seventh round (210th overall). The 6-foot, 193-pound center completed his second USHL season with Muskegon in 2021-22 and tallied 56 points (25 goals, 31 assists), a 46-point improvement from his rookie campaign where he only scored 1 goal and 9 assists.

With the draft completed, Nashville turns its eyes to free agency to help bulk up its team before next season. The Predators have already made some key moves, improving the team from last year by trading for Lightning defenseman Ryan McDonagh and re-signing Nashville all-time leading goal-scorer Filip Forsberg.

Predators Re-Sign Filip Forsberg To Eight-Year, $68 Million Deal

Filip Forsberg. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

It’s official. After much anticipation and rumors, the Nashville Predators have inked Filip Forsberg to a new eight-year, $68 million deal securing his future in Music City.

“We are very pleased to announce Filip’s signing today,” says Predators General Manager and President of Hockey Operations David Poile. “As one of the best offensive players in our history, we are thrilled to have Filip as a part of our team for the next eight seasons. His talent, competitiveness and leadership are critical to our future as we continue to strive for our goal of winning a Stanley Cup.” He continues, “We believe that Filip, like Pekka Rinne before him, and like our captain Roman Josi is doing now, will write a legacy with the Predators that fans will remember forever. Additionally, we’d like to wish Filip and his fiancée Erin all the best as they get married later this month. We appreciate having them both in our Smashville family for the next eight years.”

Forsberg is the franchise’s all-time leading goal scorer with 220. This new deal will keep him in with the team through the 2029-30 season and carries an annual average value (AAV) of $8.5 million.

“I couldn’t be happier to spend the next eight years in the same city I’ve called home since my NHL career began,” Forsberg shares. “My fiancée Erin and I love Nashville, but we also strongly believe in the future of our team and know we can accomplish big things moving forward.” He adds, “I’d like to thank the Predators organization and David Poile for helping us get this deal done. Now, it’s time to work toward our ultimate goal of bringing a Stanley Cup home to Nashville and the best fans in sports.”

The Swedish native was originally drafted by the Washington Capitals in the first round (11th overall) of the 2012 NHL Draft. He has played all of his 566 career NHL games with the Predators after being acquired from the Capitals on April 3, 2013. The 27-year-old also ranks among the franchise’s all-time leaders with 41 game-winning goals (tied for first); 58 power-play goals (second); 469 points (fourth); and 249 assists (fifth).

Forsberg appears at the top of the Predators’ record books in several other categories, including hat tricks (7), 20-goal seasons (7), multi-goal games (32), three-point games (30) and consecutive games played, a 283-game run that spanned parts of four seasons from 2014-17.

Since making his NHL debut on April 14, 2013, he has represented Nashville in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game, earned a spot on the 2015 NHL All-Rookie Team and has been named one of the NHL’s Three Stars of the Month twice. Forsberg was the first player in Predators history to record consecutive 30-goal campaigns in 2015-16 and 2016-17, and this season, he became the first Nashville player to record multiple five-point games in his career.

He posted the best statistical season of his eight-year NHL career in 2021-22, establishing career highs in goals (42), assists (42) and points (84) in 69 games. In addition to finishing second on the Predators and tied for ninth in the NHL in goals, Forsberg also tallied his 211th career goal on March 19 against Toronto to pass David Legwand for the most in franchise history.

Forsberg also owns multiple team Stanley Cup Playoff records, including most goals with 29 and points with 53.

Predators Select Finnish Forward Joakim Kemell In First Round Of NHL Draft

Joakim Kemell. Photo: Courtesy of Nashville Predators

After an eventful beginning to the 2022 NHL Draft with multiple trades, the Nashville Predators held on to its 17th overall pick and selected forward Joakim Kemell.

An 18-year-old Finnish native, Kemell skated in his first full professional season with JYP of the Finnish Liiga, tallying 23 points (15 goals, 8 assists) in 39 games. He led all Liiga rookies and was tied for third on his team in goals with 15. His 23 points were the second-most among U-19 skaters in his league, and he was ranked as the No. 2 international skater, according to ESPN.

“He’s a talented offensive player who can beat you in a lot of different ways,” notes Predators Assistant General Manager/Director of Scouting Jeff Kealty. “He’s very strong on his feet, he can play in traffic, and he’s got an excellent shot and release. He can score in a lot of different ways. He has top-six ability and the ability to produce at the National Hockey League level.”

The 5-foot-11, 171-pound right wing made his Liiga debut at age 17 and became the youngest player in league history to score a goal in each of his first two career games. Prior to turning pro, Kemell competed for JYP’s U-20 side, leading his team in goals (22) and points (36) during the 2020-21 campaign.

At the international level, Kemell was named to his country’s roster for the 2022 World Junior Championship, earned bronze at the 2022 U-18 World Championship and was an alternate captain at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he was tied for third in goals with five.

“He’s versatile, but the first thing about him is that he’s a goal scorer,” Predators European Scout Janne Kekalainen adds. “He’s an extremely confident kid and has a presence and swagger about him. He can shoot from all places and knows how to finish.”

The Preds 2022 NHL Draft continues today, (July 8), starting at 10 a.m. CT. Nashville holds seven more picks: No. 82 (third round), No. 84 (third round), No. 114 (fourth round), No. 122 (fourth round), No. 146 (fifth round), and No. 210 (seventh round).

Predators Start Off Season In Prague As NHL Drops 2022-23 Regular Season Schedule

Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators have officially dropped their schedule for 2022-23 and will kick off their 25th NHL season by participating in the 2022 NHL Global Series in Prague, Czech Republic, taking on the San Jose Sharks at the O2 Arena on Oct. 7-8.

The Preds will return home on Oct. 13 to play the Dallas Stars at Bridgestone Arena for their home opener. They’ll finish out the opening month of the season with five more games, including home matches against Los Angeles, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Washington from Oct. 18-29 with a one-off road trip to Columbus on Oct. 20.

November will feature 14 games with eight scheduled at Bridgestone Arena, the most home games in a single month on the 2022-23 docket. The month begins with the Preds taking a five-game road swing–the second-longest of the season–with stops in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Seattle before the trip ends with a Nov. 10 showdown against the defending Stanley Cup champion, Colorado Avalanche.

The schedule shifts back to Tennessee as the Preds will play eight of the final nine games in November at Bridgestone Arena, starting with a season-long five-game homestand from Nov. 12-21. Nashville will take on the New York Rangers, Minnesota, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay and Arizona during the homestand, its longest in a traditional schedule since 2019-20.

A trip to Detroit on Nov. 23 precedes three more November home games, including the first of 11 scheduled back-to-backs coming Nov. 25-26 against Colorado and Columbus; the month concludes Nov. 29 vs. Anaheim.

December also will see the Predators play 14 games, six of which will be in the form of back-to-backs, beginning with contests at New Jersey and the New York Islanders on Dec. 1-2. Nashville will then travel to Tampa Bay (Dec. 8)–Ryan McDonagh’s first game back in the city where he won two Stanley Cups.

Nashville kicks off 2023 by taking on Montreal at home on Jan. 3 before embarking on another five-game road trip from Jan. 5-12 with games against Carolina, Washington, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. Following the road-heavy start to January, the Predators will play five of their next six games on home ice, taking on Buffalo, Calgary, Los Angeles, Winnipeg and New Jersey from Jan. 14-26 with a road trip to St. Louis scheduled on Jan. 19.

The Predators will play 10 times in February, including a stretch of four games in 10 days to begin the month, with contests against Vegas (Feb. 7), at Philadelphia (Feb. 11), Arizona (Feb. 13) and Boston (Feb. 16). A relatively light travel month, Nashville will play its first of two home-road back-to-backs on Feb. 18-19–home vs. Florida and on the road at Minnesota–before rounding out February with two games at Bridgestone Arena on Feb. 21 vs. Vancouver and Feb. 28 vs. Pittsburgh and contests at San Jose (Feb. 23) and at Arizona (Feb. 26).

March is both the busiest month overall and on the road for the Predators in 2022-23, featuring 16 games total with 10 away from home. The month begins with a season-long six-game road trip from March 2-12 that spans 11 days and will see the team go coast-to-coast, with contests against Florida, Chicago, Vancouver, Arizona, Los Angeles and Anaheim. After completing its final trip out west, Nashville returns home for three games against Detroit, Chicago and Winnipeg from March 14-18 and heads back out on the road at the New York Rangers (March 19) and Buffalo (March 21).

Nashville will take on a Central Division opponent in four of their final seven games of the regular season, starting with a noon contest against St. Louis on April 1. Following a road-home back-to-back on April 3-4 (at Dallas and vs. Vegas), the Predators host Carolina on April 6 and play their final two games away from home on April 8 at Winnipeg and April 10 at Calgary. Nashville concludes the 2022-23 regular season at home on April 13 against Minnesota.

Predators Announce 2022-23 Preseason Schedule, Including A Game In Bern, Switzerland

The Nashville Predators have announced its five-game 2022 preseason schedule, headlined by an exhibition in Bern, Switzerland on Oct. 3, as part of the 2022 NHL Global Series.

The Preds’ preseason will also feature a home doubleheader against the Florida Panthers and a home-and-home series with the 2022 Eastern Conference Champions Tampa Bay Lightning.

This will mark the 10th time in the last 11 training camps that the Predators and Panthers will play a split-squad doubleheader. The 2022 edition is scheduled for Sept. 26 at Bridgestone Arena with games at 3 p.m. CT and 7 p.m. CT. Later, Nashville will face off against the Lightning in a back-to-back games, traveling to Tampa on Sept. 29 and hosting the Stanley Cup finalists at home on Sept. 30.

Following that game, the Predators will head for Europe to participate in the Global Series, making stops in Switzerland and the Czech Republic. The Predators will take on SC Bern, located in the hometown of Nashville Captain Roman Josi, on Oct. 3 at PostFinance-Arena, marking the team’s first-ever game against a non-NHL opponent. Nashville then travels to Prague, Czech Republic, for the start of the 2022-23 regular season, where it will play back-to-back games vs. San Jose at the O2 Arena on Oct. 7-8.

The team’s 2022 rookie camp is scheduled to open Sept. 14 in Nashville. The group will take part in a rookie tournament in Raleigh, N.C., from Sept. 16-19 before joining Nashville’s main training camp.

Tickets for the Predators’ three preseason home games will go on sale at a later date and will be available through Ticketmaster.com.

Bridgestone Arena Ranked Third In U.S., Fourth In World For Ticket Sales & Gross Ticket Revenue

Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Bridgestone Arena ranks third in the United States for ticket sales and fourth in the world for gross ticket revenue, according to Pollstar‘s 2022 Second Quarter Industry Report.

The report states that Bridgestone Arena grossed $40,967,713.3 in revenue and sold 397,795 tickets. The arena ranked 11th in Pollstar‘s 2022 First Quarter Worldwide Top 100 Arenas, grossing $11,609,408 in revenue and selling 147,587 tickets.

Serving as the home for numerous national and international events, Bridgestone Arena has the distinction of being one of the busiest venues in the United States over the past decade and a half. A nominee for the Pollstar Arena of the Decade, Bridgestone Arena has 13 consecutive Pollstar Arena of the Year nominations, winning the award in 2014 and 2017.

Bridgestone Arena and Nashville Predator’s Executive Vice President David Kells was awarded the 2021 Pollstar Executive of the Year earlier this year.

Pollstar Magazine focuses primarily on the concert industry and reports on news regarding sports and entertainment. The nominating committee is comprised of industry leaders in all facets of the entertainment business, including arena managers, artists, artist managers, agents and promoters from across the country and abroad.

Roman Josi Snubbed From Norris Trophy After Historic Season

Roman Josi. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi was named the runner-up for the 2021-22 Norris Trophy at the NHL Awards on Tuesday night.

Colorado’s Cale Makar won the award after leading the Avalanche to one of its best seasons on years.

Josi scored 96 points off of 23 goals and 73 assists this past season, the most points scored by a defenseman since Boston’s Ray Bourque in 1994. Josi won the Norris Trophy in 2020 and received the most first-place votes in this year’s ballot even though he finished second on the overall ballot.

Makar received 1,631 points from the Professional Hockey Writers Association while Josi only received 1,606 points. Josi earned 98 first-place votes to Makar’s 92 but the Avalanche defenseman received 98 second-place votes, while Josi only had 76 second-place votes, picking up 17 third-place votes and a surprising three votes for fourth. One voter didn’t even cast a vote for Josi.

It was the closest margin of voting for the Norris Trophy since the Ottawa Senators’ Erik Karlsson edged Nashville’s former captain Shea Weber in 2012.

Josi was named to the 2021-22 First All-Star Team along with Makar. Other Predators were recognized for their performances this season, like Alexandre Carrier who was named to the First All-Rookie Team.  He tallied 27 assists and 30 points, both the most by a rookie defenseman in Predators history.

All-star goaltender Juuse Saros was a Vezina Trophy finalist in his first season as starting goaltender. Saros finished third in the voting after finishing sixth the season prior.