Hartnell, Classen Make Predators Roster

By Greg Andrade
The Nashville Predators finalized their regular season roster last night, as the final cuts were made and a pair of rookies got some very good news. Scott Hartnell, Nashville’s first round pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, and Greg Classen, a free agent signee from Merrimack College, both made the team and will make the trip to Japan as the Predators begin the 2000-01 season with a pair of games against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Hartnell made the team through hard work and determination. He came to camp intent on winning a roster spot and forcing the Predators to go against their usual policy of being patient and letting players develop in juniors or the minors. It helped that Hartnell finally got his first goal of the pre-season on Friday night against Chicago. Hartnell finished the pre-season with a goal and an assist in five games, but it was his steady performance in practice and scrimmages that convinced head coach Barry Trotz that he is ready for the NHL.

Classen was one of the biggest surprises in the entire league, much less the Nashville Predators during the pre-season. He dominated the Predators’ rookie camp in Traverse City, Michigan, then continued his stellar play throughout the veteran training camp and exhibition games. Classen was the most consistent producer for Nashville and finished as the top scorer on the team in the pre-season. Classen compiled three goals and four assists for seven points in five pre-season games. Despite being a long shot to make the team when he first signed with the Predators, Classen gave Trotz no choice but to keep him around when it came time to make final cuts.

Despite the impressive performances by these two rookies, there are no guarantees that they will still be on the roster in another week. Trotz has said he will continue to evaluate their situations and if he cannot give them enough ice time to help their development, they may ultimately be sent down. There may be a very good chance of that happening with Hartnell, since Nashville has the luxury of letting him stay on the NHL roster for up to 10 games before ultimately sending him down to junior for good. And that may ultimately happen, since Brantt Myhres, who was sent down to the IHL in the final cuts, is expected to return to the Predators once they return from Japan and Myhres has recovered from a wrist injury. If Myhres is called up, Nashville will have to send someone down, and that could very well be Hartnell.

Here is the 24-man roster of players that Nashville will bring to Japan later this week …

CENTERS – Sebastien Bordeleau, Greg Classen, Greg Johnson, David Legwand, Mark Mowers, Randy Robitaille

LEFT WINGS – Ville Peltonen, Cliff Ronning, Vitali Yachmenev

RIGHT WINGS – Tom Fitzgerald, Scott Hartnell, Patric Kjellberg, Rob Valicevic, Scott Walker

DEFENSEMEN – Drake Berehowsky, Bill Houlder, Cale Hulse, Richard Lintner, Craig Millar, Karlis Skrastins, Kimmo Timmonen

GOALTENDERS – Mike Dunham, Chris Mason, Tomas Vokoun