The debate is pretty set in stone that Pekka Rinne is the best player in the 25-year history of the Nashville Predators, but who comes runner-up to the franchise G.O.A.T?
Recently I’ve been trying to compile my list of the top-20 players in Nashville Predators history, and after Rinne, the list quickly became a whole debate with myself on where to place players. It starts immediately at No.2 for me after Rinne.
There’s no argument that Rinne sits at the top. Simply put, if Rinne never comes through as an eighth-round draft pick and becomes the franchise changer in net, who knows if the Predators would’ve even stayed in Nashville.
Same can be said for Shea Weber’s fast rise into an NHL superstar around the time that the Nashville Predators were sold and rumored to be moving to Hamilton, Ontario.
Weber blasted 23 goals and 30 assists in 2008-2009 and finished fourth in the Norris Trophy voting. An uncertain time for the long-term future of the Predators in Nashville.
The Nashville Predators are a unique team to do this exercise with not only because they have a relatively short history compared to many of the blueblood NHL teams, but also because they’ve had plenty of regular season success and fan favorites come through over the years.
Despite the regular season, and some postseason, success there still hasn’t been a whole lot of future Hall of Famers. In fact, only Rinne has a realistic chance at that feat with where we sit now.
So that begs the question; who are you putting as runner-up as best in Nashville Predators history behind Pekka Rinne?
You can make an argument for a few players to be 2nd behind Pekka
The first answer that I came up with in my head when asking this question was Shea Weber, and I’m assuming the vast majority would agree. However, as I started to move through the franchise’s history, I began to second-guess my original selection of Weber.
First off, Weber was the first homegrown superstar of this franchise. Making his NHL debut on January 6, 2006, Weber joined a Nashville Predators roster that included franchise greats Martin Erat, Kimmo Timonen, Steve Sullivan and yes, Ryan Suter.
That was the first season that the Nashville Predators really started to take notice around the NHL after finally cracking the playoffs the season before for the first time, but really taking off with 106 points during the season that Weber entered the fold.
That 106-point season sits as the third-highest total in franchise history, while Weber went on to appear in 28 games and finish with 10 points.
Quickly after that, Weber became a mainstay on the Predators roster and began his ascension into being considered one of the best defenseman in the league. Certainly in terms of his rocket of a shot, including 17 goals in his first full season in the NHL.
Weber still sits atop the franchise list for power play goals with 80, with Filip Forsberg at 62 and Roman at 54. Weber also sits third in games played (763), third in goals (166), and fifth in points (443).
Now I must bring up Josi in this argument for second-best. Is it too soon to put Josi past Weber as an all-time great for the franchise? Josi has already recently surpassed Weber on every franchise list, but Weber still holds the edge over Josi in goals.
Josi’s dynamic offensive game is much different than the physically imposing and mammoth shot that Weber used to score many of his goals. Weber played with brute force, while Josi fits the speed and transition into his game that fits today’s NHL.
Josi recently passed David Legwand for the franchise’s all-time leader in points, which he now sits at 601. Weber is fifth with 443, but was never the type of offensively-driven defenseman that Josi is.
Predators All-Time Point Leaders
1. Roman Josi (601)
2. David Legwand (566)
3. Filip Forsberg (511)
4. Martin Erat (481)
5. Shea Weber (443)
Legwand should get some love just for being the original draft pick, his longevity with the team and he is second in points all-time, but I can’t put him ahead of Weber or Josi.
Some will also throw Juuse Saros in there already as second-best just based on how vital he has been to keeping the Nashville Predators relevant since Rinne’s retirement. But I still think it’s way too soon to put Saros that high.
Saros’ story is nowhere close to being completed, and if he finishes his career with the Nashville Predators than there’s a good chance he passes Rinne eventually. We’ll have to wait and see how the next two years go and when the free agency talks begin to rise.
Paul Kariya‘s time with the Predators was too short, but if we’re talking the full body of work from the player’s entire NHL career, than Kariya is right there with Rinne.
Kariya in 05-06 and 06-07 put up back-to-back 82-game seasons on the path to 161 points over that short span. He was the biggest name to be signed by the Nashville Predators up to that point.
When it’s all said and done, Forsberg might take his game to a whole other elite level and earn his right to be second-best behind Rinne.
There’s a lot of players to bring up in this debate, but it really comes down to either Weber or Josi.
Josi Should be Considered the 2nd-Best Player in Nashville Predators History
Weber held the title for a long time, and some would’ve even argued he was better than Rinne up until the final few years for Rinne and his Vezina Trophy win in 2018.
Over the course of the last four years, Josi has really rocketed up the list of all-time greats for the Nashville Predators franchise, starting with his Norris Trophy win in 2020 and then nearly hitting 100 points in a season when he tallied 96, but still finished second in the Norris Trophy voting.
It’s difficult to compare the two franchise greats because they play very different styles and also played during different eras of Nashville Predators hockey.
I have to give the slight nod to Josi, with Weber as the third-best player in Nashville Predators history, and then it really turns into a tall task to rank all the way to a top-20.
Saros and Forsberg, judging by how the next couple seasons go, could eventually surpass Weber into my top-3, but for now they have a long ways to go.