Photo: Calgary Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau followed up his selection as the Hobey Baker winner in 2014 by turning in a performance in his NHL rookie season that is likely to earn him the NHL’s Calder Trophy in 2015 (courtesy of Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)
The late-season playoff push in places like Calgary, Ottawa, Winnipeg, and Florida — all teams that were not expected to be in the playoff hunt — pushed several rookies into the spotlight. While all but the Florida Panthers made the playoffs, the fact that all had key contributions from first-year players made for an interesting Calder Trophy selection the 2014-15 season. Read more»
Photo: Nashville Predators prospect and 2010 first-round pick Austin Watson has established himself as a consistent player in the AHL while waiting for his NHL opportunity (courtesy of Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)
Entering the 2010 NHL Draft the Nashville Predators were coming off a successful regular season followed by yet another disappointing first round series loss in the playoffs.
Nashville finished third in the Central Division in 2009-10, reaching 100 points for the third time in five seasons, but lost to eventual Stanley Cup champion Chicago in six games in the first round. This marked the fifth straight time Nashville lost in the first round and the Predators would not win their first playoff series until the 2010-11 season.
Photo: Team Switzerland forward and Nashville Predators prospect Kevin Fiala (#21) appeared in 33 games for Nashville’s AHL farm team, the Milwaukee Admirals, where he scored 11 goals and 20 points in 2014-15 (courtesy of Martin Rose/Getty Images)
Dallas Stars prospect Esa Lindell is coming off a career year in which the 6’3”, 200 pound defenseman put up 14 goals and 35 points in 57 games. This was good enough to not only earn him a spot on Team Finland at the 2015 IIHF World Championship, but also got him a cup of coffee with the AHL’s Texas Stars to conclude the season. Read more»
Photo: New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson (L) was the leading scorer for Team USA at the 2015 IIHF World Championship, while linemate and Nashville Predators prospect Steve Moses (R) chipped in a goal and an assist (courtesy of Robert Hradil/EQ Images/Icon Sportswire)
Brock Nelson became a full time NHL player this season with the New York Islanders, putting up 20 goals and 42 points in the process. He then followed that with six goals and nine points in nine games at the 2015 IIHF World Championship. Clearly elated with Team USA’s 3-0 bronze medal victory, Nelson shared his thoughts on the tournament after the game. Read more»
Photo: Nashville Predators 2012 second-rounder Pontus Aberg showed promise in adapting to North American hockey early in the season (courtesy of Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)
The 2014-15 season saw a shift in focus in the Predators’ organization from the Smashville philosophy of the early years to a more wide open skating style. Partly due to necessity, Nashville featured bigger, hard-hitting players playing tight defense and making things difficult on opposition players during its early years. That changed this season as new coach Peter Laviolette emphasized a north-south skating game that fit the talents of scorers like rookie Filip Forsberg and veteran Mike Ribeiro, who had a resurgence in his first year with the Predators.