Nashville fans have a lot to be thankful for this year. The Predators are off to their best start in franchise history with 11 wins and 23 points in 22 games. Twenty-three-year-old center David Legwand is starting to become the playmaker he was drafted to be, posting 10 assists for 15 points in 22 games, and rookie defenseman Dan Hamhuis has proven why he was the Predators first choice in the 2001 draft and why he will eventually lead the Predators blueline.
Rookie Marek Zidlicky and veteran Kimmo Timonen are currently the top scoring defensive pair in the NHL, with 17 and 13 points respectively, but Hamhuis has been as impressive.
Standing six feet tall and weighing in at 208 pounds, Hamhuis can hit like a linebacker and move like a safety. The soon to be 21-year-old Hamhuis is courteous off the ice, but once on the ice he is a physical defenseman, known not only for his ability to check but his offensive capabilities as well.
In 22 games this season, Hamhuis has two goals, four assists and 21 penalty minutes. Impressively, he leads all NHL rookies in ice time, averaging over 20 minutes per contest, two minutes more than the next closest rookie. He plays in all situations, the power play, penalty kill and at even strength, most often paired with veteran Jason York. His –7 is worst on the team, but he has one power play goal, one game winning goal, assist on an overtime game winner and is one of only six Predators to have more than 35 shots on goal.
For now Hamhuis will continue to learn the ways of the NHL and continue to mold his game in hopes of becoming a premier defenseman for the Nashville Predators. He may not score 20 goals this season or be an NHL All-Star, but he is a developing offensive defenseman.
NEWS AND NOTES
Defensive prospect Josh Morrow was traded between WHL teams on November 15th going to the Kootenay Ice. Morrow played in 23 games with the Kamloops, recording 13 points in 20 games, before the 20-year-old was dealt to Kootenay. Morrow is the second Nashville defenseman moved between teams this season following 18-year-old Kevin Klein who was traded between OHL teams going to the Guelph Storm from the Toronto St. Michael’s.
Left winger Timofei Shishkanov is creating some excitement in Milwaukee of the AHL. Shishkanov has 11 points in 17 games this season, and is tied for the team lead in scoring. The 20-year-old is playing in his first season with the Admirals.
Reigning AHL rookie of the year Darren Haydar, 24, is struggling. He has posted only two goals and eight points in 15 games this season.
Center Patrick Jarrett continues his strong season with the Owen Sound of the OHL. The 5’11″, 181-pounder recorded 26 points in 24 games this year, including 20 assists. Jarrett slipped to Nashville in the fifth round of the 2002 draft because of health problems.
In what was a weakness in the Predators system, the new and improved blueline is stacked with talented defensemen. Richard Stehlik, a third round selection from this year’s draft, has 14 points and 56 penalty minutes in 20 games this year with Lewiston of the QMJHL. Shea Weber, a second round pick from this year’s draft, has 12 points and 61 PIMs in 23 games with Kelowna of the WHL. Anton Lavrentiev is also playing well early in the season in Russia with the Kazan-2 team. The 6’4″, 196-pounder has 5 points and 16 PIMs in six games this season. Ryan Suter and Kevin Klein are off to slow starts. Suter has posted five assists and 23 PIMs in 12 games with the University of Wisconsin and Klein has five points and 18 PIMs in 16 total games this season in the OHL.