Kariya Comes to Nashville as Biggest Free Agent at the Time
The first major free agent to ever choose the Nashville Predators, who at the time had just made the playoffs once in their short existence, was Paul Kariya. And he wasted no time becoming an offensive wizard for this club.
Kariya joined the Predators franchise in the offseason of 2005 on a two-year, $9M contract. A huge deal at the time that put the league on notice that the Predators were on the rise.
The 85 points that Kariya amassed still sits third on the franchise all-time list for a single season, and playing in all 82 games was an iron man accomplishment on its own that’s worth applauding.
With Kariya’s added offensive scoring punch, the Predators surged to 106 points during that regular season and finished second in the Central Division, but well behind the dynasty Detroit Red Wings with 124 points.
Hey, at least we have this memory, although from 2007, of Kariya scoring on
in a shootout. Wicked, and Kariya was built for shootout goals that made the highlight reels:
Even so, the Predators had certainly graduated from being a punching bag expansion team in a small market. And Kariya played a key role in that.
Kariya also had 14 power play goals, tied for 2nd-most in franchise history for a single season, and also had 54 assists, which stood tall until Roman Josi‘s passed him in 2021-22.
Coming up on two decades ago, Kariya’s offensive output during that day and age of the NHL is impressive and will always be one of the better individual seasons in Nashville Predators history.