Nashville Predators 2023 Training Camp Spotlight: Jake Livingstone

Nashville Predators defenseman Jake Livingstone (23) awaits the face-off against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Nashville Predators defenseman Jake Livingstone (23) awaits the face-off against the Winnipeg Jets during the second period at Canada Life Centre. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Nashville Predators begin their 2023 Training Camp on September 20th in Smashville. Now this team, since its inception, has always had a strong blue line and that remains the case for the upcoming season as well.

With defensemen such as Tyson Barrie, Ryan McDonagh, Alexandre Carrier, Dante Fabbro, Luke Schenn and Roman Josi all but guaranteed a spot on the opening night roster, there are several other up and coming blue liners that will be fighting for the opportunity to play if one of these players miss a game.

One of these players is Jake Livingstone. At 24-years-old, this right-handed defenseman towers at 6-foot-3 inches and weighs 205 pounds. On June 27, 2023, the Nashville Predators inked this young defenseman to a two-way contact showing they see the potential that he has to be an asset to this team.

2022-23 Season Review for Livingstone

The 2022-23 season started with Livingstone being an undrafted player, playing for the Minnesota State University Mavericks. During the 39 games he played for the Mavericks, Livingstone served as an alternate captain due to his presence, knowledge, and leadership ability on the ice.

While playing for Minnesota State, Livingstone put up eight goals and 27 assists. One area that Livingstone could show some improvement in is his discipline on the ice. Livingstone had 30 penalty minutes in his 39 games.

Now on a positive note, quite literally, Livingstone was a +10 in the +/- column. He has shown that he has what it takes to be a competitor at the NCAA level, but does he have what it takes to be an NHL regular?

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The Predators think that he does and that’s why when the Mavericks season came to a close on March 23, 2023, the Predators signed him to a one-year contract less than a  week later.

With the injuries to the blue line that the Predators had late in the season, it did not take long for Livingstone to get his opportunity on the big stage in Smashville.

Livingstone got the call and made his NHL debut in Nashville against the Carolina Hurricanes on April 6. This game was an uneventful one for the young defenseman as he skated in 21 shifts for 16:08 time on ice and had zeros across the scoresheet.

While Livingstone didn’t make an impact on the scoresheet, the ability to make your NHL debut against an offensive firepower team such as the Hurricanes and hold them to no goals is impressive. The Predators shut out the Hurricanes that night 3-0 in front of 17,762 faithful fans in Bridgestone Arena.

Livingstone would go on to finish out the last four games of the season for the Nashville Predators, including getting his first NHL point on April 10 when he assisted on Zach Sanford’s goal at 4:02 of the third period. He also showed more discipline in his play at the NHL level and only had one minor penalty in his five games in a Predators sweater.

Seemingly the biggest takeaway from Livingstone was his defensive impact by logging an impressive 11 blocked shots in five games playing primarily on a pairing with Tyson Barrie.

Season Outlook for 2023-24

Coming into training camp, it will be interesting to see which young defenseman stands out to the coaching staff and front office. With Jeremy Lauzon, Spencer Stastney, Jordan Gross, Roland McKeown, and Livingstone all trying to make a name for themselves and earn a spot on the Predators roster.

Out of the five defensemen trying to make the roster, Livingstone has played in the fewest number of games. So, there is no doubt in my mind that it will be an uphill battle for him.

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However, Livingstone has shown that he has what it takes to play at the NHL level and with a little more experience I believe he will be relied upon if the Predators find themselves in injury trouble or if one of the bottom pairing defensemen become a healthy scratch due to poor play.

With the moves that General Manager Barry Trotz has made in his short time in charge, he has made it clear that either you play to your contract, or he will find somewhere else for you to play. If some of the current blue liners on the roster to not play up to par, there is potential for them to be moved and make room for Livingstone to become an NHL regular before seasons end.

Can Livingstone push Fabbro or Lauzon for NHL starts early in the 2023-24 campaign? We shall see.

Biggest Strengths and Weaknesses for Livingstone

Livingstone’s biggest strengths from his play in the NCAA is participating in the rush, shot blocking, and his overall physicality.

With his ability to find open areas on the ice and contribute to the offensive play, Livingstone reminds me a lot of Josi’s style of play. If he can find a way to showcase this ability, he will be a huge asset to the Predators organization.

On the defensive side of the house, Livingstone has the hockey knowledge and ability to close the gap on opposing teams, close shooting lanes, and is not afraid to give up his body to block a shot.

Now looking at weaknesses, the biggest one that sticks out is Livingstone’s penalties. Playing with the level of physicality that he does; he needs to find a happy medium to still play physical but not take as many penalties.

In Livingstone’s 111 NCAA games he totaled 80 penalty minutes. With the Nashville Predators being a team that struggles staying out of the box as it is, they need players that have the ability to give full effort but not take penalties while giving that effort.

Overall, Livingstone will be a part of this Nashville Predators blue line by the end of the season and possibly for years to come being just 24-years-old.