Nashville Predators Prospects Can Learn a lot from a Player Like Mark Jankowski

Jankowski has been one of the top choices to get called up whenever the Preds need a veteran to step in.

Feb 15, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Mark Jankowski (17) skates
Feb 15, 2024; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Mark Jankowski (17) skates / Steve Roberts-USA TODAY Sports
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It's a tricky situation for the Nashville Predators front office right now managing their AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals who are currently on an unprecedented 16-game winning streak.

In limited action, 8-year NHL veteran Mark Jankowski was called back up to the Predators for three games before being reassigned to Milwaukee on Sunday. In his three games with the Predators he averaged just a little over 12 minutes of ice time.

Jankowski is a prototypical depth player who plays the game the right way and often gets overlooked if you just simply scan over the box score. He hasn't played in over 300 NHL games by accident.

Jankowski has Grinded his Way Throughout his Pro Hockey Career

Formerly a 21st overall pick in 2012, Jankowski has regularly bounced between the AHL and NHL going back to the 2016-17 season. He's accustomed to letting his hard work speak for itself to earn NHL minutes.

Maybe for some younger prospects with more raw talent, it's harder for them to stomach being sent down to the minors. This isn't a direct jab at any prospects in this current situation for the Predators, but more of a statement of truth for many raw talent players who get their egos bruised a bit when they get to the big leagues after being accustomed to dominating at the lower level prior to being drafted.

Jankowski has been the go-to veteran to get called up when the Predators need to shake things up. They've done that in a big way recently by sending Philip Tomasino back to the Admirals, which shocked a large portion of the fanbase. Now once again Tomasino has to use this as fuel to his fire.

Egor Afanasyev was called up the same day that Tomasino was sent down, and he remains with the Predators. He has had a difficult journey as well to become an everyday NHL players, despite having ridiculous raw talent that can one day make him a very successful contributor to the Predators.

As for Jankowski, he rejoins an Admirals club who has their sights set on winning the Calder Cup in the midst of 16-straight wins and they need their leading point scorer back in Jankowski.

It's a delicate balance between managing your NHL club and AHL affiliate. You don't want to disrupt chemistry for a team like the Admirals and your prospects who many are hopefully set to be future NHL players regulars for the Predators.

Preds Prospects Can Learn Valuable Lesson from Jankowski's Journey

I've always had respect for AHL veterans like Jankowski who have tasted success in the NHL and that's obviously their ultimate goal. However, they continue to pour everything they have even if that means playing a level below where they want to be in the AHL. Serving as a veteran mentor for younger prospects like Zachary L'Heureux, Egor Afanasyev, Fedor Svechkov and Joakim Kemell.

Let's not lose sight of Juuso Parssinen in all of this, either. He can learn something valuable from a player like Jankowski. Parssinen was sent down to the Admirals on January 23, and since has played in nine games and registered six points.

I'm sure it's a letdown for Parssinen, but he has to realize it's not the end of the road for him, and not even close. He has to work hard and grind, just like Jankowski has done thoughtout his professional hockey career.

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Jankowski has 327 games of NHL experience, and although he's never going to be a top-tier player or even an everyday starter unless injuries happen, he knows his role and is valuable to a franchise because of the relentless grinder mentality.

The road ahead is unclear for Jankowski. He's an unrestricted free agent and is 29-years-old. He could've chosen to not give it 100 percent in Milwaukee due to being upset over not being in the NHL, but instead with his play in the AHL, he's probably given General Manager Barry Trotz a lot to consider on working out another minimal contract extension to keep him around another year.

Jankowski received a one-year contract extension in mid-March of 2023, and it would be well-deserved if Trotz gives him another similar deal again if Jankowski is open to staying in the Nashville organization.

If the heavy sell-off at the upcoming trade deadline does indeed happen, then expect Jankowski to get called back up to the Predators to finish out the NHL regular season if forwards spots become available.

Of course you don't want to disrupt the run the Admirals are on, but you have to fill out your NHL starting roster and if Trotz sells heavy, he'll have to pluck some well-deserving players from the Admirals.

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