Predators Training Camp Begins September 22

Cole Smith. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators have announced their full schedule for this fall’s training camp which begins on Wednesday (Sept. 22). The first practice is set for Thursday at 9 a.m. CT at Centennial Sportsplex. The full roster will also be announced on Wednesday and is subject to change throughout training camp.

The three-week camp is headlined by six preseason games, beginning with a doubleheader on the road against the Florida Panthers on Sept. 26 (1 p.m. and 5 p.m. CT). The Predators will then face off against the Lightning twice, traveling to Tampa on Sept. 30 and hosting the defending Stanley Cup champions at Bridgestone Arena on Oct. 2. The team will round out their preseason schedule with two games against the Hurricanes–Nashville’s first-round opponent in the 2021 playoffs–with the first at PNC Arena in Raleigh on Oct. 5 and the second at home on Oct. 9.

Nashville made some big changes this offseason and saw the retirement of franchise goaltender Pekka Rinne, making Juuse Saros the full-time goalie after signing a four-year contract with the Predators. The team also made moves, trading long time Preds Ryan Ellis and Viktor Arvidsson.

Predators Stadium Series Game Interest Forms Open Now

Hockey fans who are interested in securing tickets to the 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series outdoor game between the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning at Nissan Stadium can now submit their information to receive updates regarding ticket on sales and purchasing options.

The 2022 NHL Stadium Series will mark Nashville’s second appearance in a regular-season outdoor game, with the first being the 2020 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic. Similarly, Tampa Bay will become the 27th NHL team to participate in a regular-season outdoor game.

“To kick off the new year in 2020, we saw more than 20,000 Preds fans travel over 650 miles to root for our team as they took on the Dallas Stars in the second-highest attended NHL Winter Classic in League history,” says Nashville Predators and Bridgestone Arena President and CEO Sean Henry. “Now, as a new hockey season quickly approaches, we cannot wait to see our fans fill up Nissan Stadium for the 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series on Feb. 26. Having hosted the immensely successful 2017 Stanley Cup Final and 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend in Nashville, we are thrilled and honored to host yet another incredible experience right here in Music City, and it’s all because of our fans’ tremendous support of these premier NHL events.”

Nissan Stadium will become the eighth football stadium and fifth NFL venue to host an NHL Stadium Series game. Predators Season Ticket Citizens will be granted priority access to purchase tickets as soon as they are available.

Additional details relating to Nashville’s NHL Stadium Series game including ticketing and broadcast information will be released at a future date.

Bridgestone Arena To COVID-19 Entry Requirements For Predators Games And Events

Bridgestone Arena. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

Bridgestone Arena announced yesterday (Sept. 13) that all guests age 12 and older will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours prior to the event to attend all Nashville Predators games and events held at the venue. This new policy will go into effect on Oct. 2.

Bridgestone Arena guests under the age of 12 will be required to wear a mask at all times while inside the venue or must present a printed or digital negative COVID-19 test administered within 72 hours prior to the event.

The Preds are the 14th team in the NHL planning to start the 2021-22 season in a venue with similar health and safety regulations. The new policy is scheduled to remain in place through at least Nov. 15. An announcement will be made at the beginning of each month reaffirming or altering procedures and protocols for the next 75 days, but could be modified in the interim as all policies and procedures remain subject to change. Arena officials will continue to work with local, state, and federal governments and health agencies, along with the NHL to monitor all pertinent COVID-19 activity.

“Throughout the pandemic we have been consistent in stating that the health and wellness of all arena guests, Predators fans, our employees, players and performers is our number one priority,” says Sean Henry, President and CEO of Bridgestone Arena and the Nashville Predators. “Just two months ago, we believed that we were returning to a sense of normalcy, but unfortunately, with the impact of the delta variant, that has not been the case. We are united with health care professionals in our belief that the only way to end this pandemic is to get more people vaccinated.

“We’re incredibly thankful to our guests and fans, who have continued to not only adhere to the policies but help us create and shape them,” Henry continues. “Based on feedback from those fans, tour managers and other venues both locally and around the country, we’re hopeful that protocols like these will allow us to continue to host the biggest shows on tour, while at the same time bringing 17,159 of the best fans in sports to our games.”

The Predators organization continues to partner with the Metro Public Health Department to offer free COVID-19 vaccinations at Bridgestone Arena in connection with every event. Vaccination opportunities will also be held at the Ford Ice Centers in Antioch and Bellevue every Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. CT.

In addition to these newly announced policies, Bridgestone Arena will continue to recommend that all guests wear masks except while actively eating and drinking in the venue.  For more information on the specific protocols, click here.

Predators Rookie Camp Opens On Sept. 16

Nashville Predators prospect Luke Prokop. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators have announced that its Rookie Camp is set to start on Thursday (Sept. 16) a day before heading to Tampa for the 2021 NHL Prospect Showcase.

The Predators rookie team, which will be comprised of signed and unsigned draft picks, AHL free-agent signings and skaters attending on try-out agreements, will be led by Milwaukee Admirals (Nashville’s AHL affiliate) Head Coach Karl Taylor and Assistant Coaches Scott Ford and Greg Rallo.

Among the 22 players scheduled to participate are 2019 first-round pick Philip Tomasino, 2017 third-round pick David Farrance and 2021 first-round pick Zachary L’Heureux. Also taking part in the showcase will be recent draft picks Egor Afanasyev (2019 second round), Luke Prokop (2020 third round)Marc Del Gaizo (2019 fourth round) and Juuso Parssinen (2019 seventh round) and players who competed in the AHL last season, including Cole SmithPatrick Harper, Tommy Novak and Devin Cooley.

The Predators will face prospects from the Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers in the showcase, playing each team once during the four-day event. Nashville kicks-off the showcase by taking on Tampa Bay on Sept. 18 at 12 p.m. CT at AMALIE Arena. The Preds will then face off against Florida the following day at AdventHealth Center at 9 a.m. CT. After a practice day on Sept. 20, the Predators close out the showcase against Carolina at 9 a.m. CT on Sept. 21, again at AdventHealth Center.

The NHL Prospect Showcase precedes the opening of Nashville’s 2021 Training Camp, which begins Sept. 22 with physicals and team meetings. The Predators’ first day on the ice will be Sept. 23 at Centennial Sportsplex, with six preseason contests scheduled from Sept. 26-Oct. 9, including two at Bridgestone Arena.

Predators Head Coach John Hynes To Join U.S. Olympic Hockey Staff

Nashville Predators head coach John Hynes will join the United States Olympic hockey team as an assistant coach for the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing. The invitation is the first time Hynes has been selected by USA Hockey to attend the Olympics.

“To have the opportunity to represent your country is always special, and it’s truly the best-on-best tournament,” says Hynes. “The Olympic Games, to be part of it as an athlete or coach or trainer in any way is a special opportunity. I’m just tremendously excited and grateful for the opportunity and really excited to work with the staff and the management, but also the opportunity to work with all the top players in the United States. They’re not only excellent players, they’re highly motivated people, and trying to compete for a gold medal at the highest level is invigorating.”

Hynes is entering his third season and second full season with the Preds. Hynes served for parts of five seasons as head coach of the New Jersey Devils. He came to New Jersey after six seasons with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins of the AHL where we was named the 2011 AHL Coach of the Year, accumulating a 231-126-27 record.

A native of Rhode Island, Hynes spent nine seasons on the coaching staff of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, serving as an assistant from 1998-2000 and 2001-02 and as head coach from 2003-09. While with the NTDP, Hynes claimed four Under-18 World Championship medals–two of them gold–and he also served as an assistant coach for the United States at the 2004 World Junior Championship, where the Americans won gold for the first time and earned their first medal in the event since 1997.

“We’ve got a great coaching staff in place,” says Stan Bowman, general manager of the 2022 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team. “It’s a group that knows what it takes to be successful, and through their unique and varied backgrounds will help put our team in the best position to win the gold medal.”

This follows last week’s announcement that NHL players will be eligible to play at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. So far, no Predators players have been selected to the US Olympic team. The final roster will be finalized by mid-October before the Olympic games which will take place from Feb. 3-22.

NHL, NHLPA To Allow Players To Compete In 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

The NHL, National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA), and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) have reached a joint agreement confirming NHL player participation in the Beijing 2022 Olympic Winter Games. This will be the sixth Winter Olympic men’s hockey tournament that includes NHL players, beginning with the 1998 Nagano Games, though NHL players did not participate in the 2018 Olympic Games in PyeongChang.

“I know that I can speak for hockey fans around the world when I say that we absolutely welcome the decision to bring back best-on-best ice hockey to the Olympics,” says IIHF President René Fasel. “We had many constructive discussions, and a lot of hard work was put into making this happen within the time we set out for ourselves, and I want to thank all parties involved for their support and commitment.”

The agreement allows for the potential Olympic debuts for some of the world’s top NHL players such as Connor McDavid (Canada), David Pastrnak (Czech Republic), Sebastian Aho (Finland), Nikita Kucherov (ROC), Victor Hedman (Sweden), Leon Draisaitl (Germany), and Auston Matthews (USA), among others.

“We understand how passionately NHL Players feel about representing and competing for their countries,” says Bill Daly, deputy commissioner for the NHL. “We are very pleased that we were able to conclude arrangements that will allow them to resume best on best competition on the Olympic stage.”

The tournament will include 12 countries seeded into three groups. Joining the top eight nations are Canada, ROC, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, USA, Germany, and Switzerland. China, as the tournament host, will participate as well as the recently qualified teams from Slovakia, Latvia and Denmark, who earned the final seeds in the Final Men’s Olympic Qualification tournaments.

“Representing their country in the Olympics is important to the players, even in these uncertain times,” says Don Zavelo, NHLPA General Counsel. “The players look forward to pulling on their nation’s hockey sweater at the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as they compete for the gold medal.”

The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will take place from Feb. 4-20.

Predators Sign Eeli Tolvanen To Three-Year Contract

Eeli Tolvanen. Photo: Courtesy of the Nashville Predators

The Nashville Predators continue to re-sign their key players this offseason, Eeli Tolvanen being the latest as he signed a three-year $4.35 million contract on Monday (Aug. 30.) Tolvanen, 22-years-old, posted 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 40 games for the Predators in 2020-21, his first full NHL season. His 11 goals were the fourth-most on the Predators and were the most scored by a Predators rookie since Filip Forsberg netted 26 in 2014-15.

The forward also challenged two rookie franchise records this past season. His six power-play goals were tied for the second-most and his six-game point streak (3 goals, 6 assists) from March 21-30 was tied for the second-longest. Among NHL rookies, Tolvanen was tied for first in game-winning goals (4); tied for second in power-play goals; third in power-play points (12); 10th in goals; and 12th in points (22), helping him earn votes for the Calder Trophy.

Originally drafted by the Predators in the first round (30th overall) of the 2017 NHL Draft, Tolvanen has played in 47 career NHL contests, seven of which came prior to the 2020-21 campaign. After playing in his first NHL game at 18 years, 343 days–the fifth-youngest player to debut with the Predators–on March 31, 2018 vs. Buffalo, Tolvanen then appeared in two more games in 2017-18 and four in 2018-19, where he recorded his first two career NHL points (1 goal, 1 assist) on Dec. 1, 2018 vs. Chicago. He is also a veteran of 121 career AHL contests, all coming with the Milwaukee Admirals from 2018-20, tallying 36 goals and 71 points.

Before signing with the Predators on March 29, 2018, Tolvanen played for Jokerit of the KHL, posting 36 points (19goals, 17 assists) in 49 games during the 2017-18 campaign and establishing league records for goals and assists in a season by a teenager

The Predators Sign Extension With ECHL Affiliate Florida Everblades

Nashville Predators has agreed to an affiliation extension with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL. Through the agreement, the Everblades will continue to function as a developmental affiliate for the Predators and the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, their primary developmental affiliate.

Based in Estero, Florida, the Everblades are one of the most successful franchises in ECHL history, having qualified for the playoffs in all but one of their 23 seasons. Florida claimed the Kelly Cup as ECHL champions in 2012 and has reached the league’s final on four separate occasions, the most recent coming in 2018.

“We look forward to seeing our prospects develop with the Everblades and continue their rich history of winning at the ECHL level,” says President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile. “We feel this is a partnership that will continue to benefit the Predators, Admirals and Everblades moving forward.”

In the 2020-21 season, fifth-year head coach and Director of Hockey Operations Brad Ralph led the Everblades to a 42-19-8 record and the top spot in the ECHL’s Eastern Conference in the regular season. Among the players signed by the Predators who helped Florida secure a playoff spot included forwards Tanner Jeannot, Cole Smith, Patrick Harper and Tommy Novak and goaltender Devin Cooley. Jeannot and Smith both went on to make their NHL debuts with Nashville during the 2020-21 campaign.

In addition to Jeannot and Smith, among the Everblades alumni to move on to the NHL after playing for the team include Dallas Stars goaltender Anton Khudobin, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic, Carolina Hurricanes forward Steven Lorentz and former Predators players Matt Hendricks, Shane Hnidy and Jason Morgan.