As Nashville Predators fans start to get excited about the 2023-24 season, one player’s name continues to come up in the conversation; Luke Evangelista.
We didn’t see too much of Evangelista in the 2022-23 NHL season, as he only played in 24 regular season games, but he certainly made a huge impact in what was an extremely entertaining end of the season.
Evangelista is still considered a rookie entering this season, as he didn’t play more than 25 games with the Preds last year, and he currently has the 10th best odds of winning the Calder Trophy (awarded to the best rookie that season) entering the 2023-24 season.
Fans’ expectations for the young forward are high, so let’s look back at what he has done to receive this praise and then look forward to the upcoming Nashville Predators training camp and season.
2022-23 Season Review for Evangelista
During his 24 games with the Predators this season, Evangelista scored seven goals and eight assists, totaling 15 points for the 21-year-old.
On March 21, Evangelista became only the second rookie in franchise history to score four or more points in a single game, leading the team to a much-needed 7-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres.
Evangelista proved several times throughout the season with the Predators that he could pick up where they were lacking in goal scoring ability, and could make the right plays when the team needed him most.
When Evangelista wasn’t with the Predators, he still made the same impact with the Milwaukee Admirals, scoring 41 points in 49 games, and was also one of the highest scorers in the AHL during the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Evangelista was dynamic with linemate Kiefer Sherwood and led to some beautiful moments and goals for the both of them, further showing that not only can Evangelista make things happen for himself, but also that he can set up his teammates for success .
During the playoffs, it was clear that Evangelista had the skill and ability needed to carry a team through a deep playoff run, and definitely proved himself capable of being a starter for the Predators in the 2023-24 season.
Season Outlook for 2023-24
Evangelista will be joining the Nashville Predators for rookie training camp on Sept. 14 before traveling to Florida for the 2023 Southeast Rookie Showcase along with several other rookie players, and I’m expecting a big showing from him these next few weeks.
We’ve seen how well Evangelista works with Sherwood as a linemate, but we’ve also seen some positive production when he is paired with Thomas Novak.
Regardless of where he is placed, Evangelista is sure to add some much-needed goal scoring to any line he is on.
Biggest Strengths & Weaknesses
Evangelista is well known for his goal scoring ability, which is a big need for the Predators offense this season, but we have also seen a lot of great problem solving skills in his last few games with the team. He is a creative player who is able to make the best out of bad situations.
Evangelista always seems to find a way to get the puck to his teammates after a tough battle along the boards. When he has the puck, he is able to find unique scoring methods that opponents don’t see coming.
Something that Evangelista will be working on during training camp is becoming a more well-rounded player. In several different post-game interviews, he has said that his defensive work needs some practice.
With Evangelista’s main role always being to score points, he hasn’t really focused on his defensive work until he was called up. Cleaning up his plays in that sense will make him a much more well-rounded player, and will certainly make him dangerous for opposing teams.
Overall, Evangelista should be considered a huge part of the Nashville Predators’ future, and will certainly make 2023-24 much more entertaining for all fans.