The team has known only one general manager (Poile) and head coach (Barry Trotz) in its existence, providing the type of rare stability in a front office that you don't usually see today in professional sports. The only bench boss in the NHL that's had a longer tenure than Trotz, for example, is Buffalo's Lindy Ruff.
All they've done while in charge of the Predators is operate in a small market, on a tight budget, build an expansion team from the ground up and turn it into a consistent playoff contender.
This year's squad is filled with home-grown players, with as many as 13 players being drafted and developed by Nashville. The list includes top-pairing rearguards Shea Weber and Ryan Suter, as well as starting goaltender Pekka Rinne.
Here's the complete breakdown:
*Anderson played five games with the Predators in 2001 and then spent the past seven seasons in Europe. He was signed by Nashville this summer.
**Parent was a first-round pick for the Predators in 2005, and was traded to Philadelphia as part of the Peter Forsberg trade in 2005. The Predators re-acquired him this summer for the free agent rights to defenseman Dan Hamhuis.
Obviously, it's crucial for all teams to be able to develop their own talent, especially in the salary cap era. It's even more important for a club like Nashville, playing in a small market and not having a bottomless pit of money at its disposal to acquire superstars in free agency or via trade. That steady pipeline of talent is required to put a competitive team on the ice, and it's been happening in Nashville for the better part of the past decade (keep in mind, the front office has also drafted and developed players in recent years that have since moved on to other teams, like Scottie Upshall, Scott Hartnell, Dan Hamhuis, Alexander Radulov and Karlis Skrastins).
As a result, Nashville has qualified for the playoffs in five of the past six seasons, including three seasons where the team eclipsed the 100-point plateau, easily making it one of the most successful of the expansion franchises to join the league over the past 20 years.
The long-awaited next step? Finally finding success in the postseason. In their five trips to the playoffs since 2005, the Predators have been eliminated in the opening round each time, including to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks this past season.
WHAT, IF ANYTHING, CAN THE PREDS GET OUT OF SERGEI KOSTITSYN?
In need of some scoring, the Predators acquired Sergei Kostitsyn, a talented yet completely frustrating forward, from the Montreal Canadiens in late June in exchange for the free agent rights to backup goaltender Dan Ellis and forward Dustin Boyd. Over the past couple of years the Predators have been a hard-working, physical team full of players that always seem to get the most out of whatever talent they might have.
These are traits that would not be used to describe Kostitsyn during the first three years of his NHL career.
Your classic enigma, the 22-year-old Kostitsyn has scored just 24 goals in his 155 career games, and never tallied more than nine in a single season; a disappointing total for a player that possesses the type of talent and skill that Kostitsyn does. And that's to say nothing of the headaches he helped to create in Montreal, including his refusal to report for a minor league assignment (leading to a suspension from the team before finally reporting to Hamilton) and being told to leave the ice by head coach Jacques Martin during a practice session in the playoffs.
So what can Nashville get out of this, and how does he fit?
The Predators only have $550,000 (not much over the league minimum) invested in him this season, and only had to give up Ellis, a player they were set to lose in free agency anyway, and Boyd to get him. So it's not like they're taking a huge risk. But Kostitsyn is far from a sure thing.
Perhaps a change of scenery is what he needs to jump start his career, and maybe Trotz and the Predators coaching staff can help him, finally, play up to his abilities. It also might be a risk worth taking seeing as how Nashville already has so many of the players mentioned above -- physical, hard-working, etc. -- that it can afford to take such a boom-or-bust risk on a player with some higher skill level and potential. Even if it is currently untapped and mired in inconsistency.
OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN
When Jason Arnott was traded to the New Jersey Devils it not only created an opening down the middle of the lineup (an opening that was later filled by the speedy Matthew Lombardi via free agency) it also created an opening in the captain's role.
Stepping up and filling that void is sixth-year defenseman Shea Weber, already one of the best players in the NHL and the first true "home-grown" (drafted and developed) captain in franchise history.
The question isn't whether or not he can handle the added duties, but how much better he can still get as a player? Armed with great size and a howitzer of a shot (powerful enough to put pucks through the net) as well as being a physical demon on the ice, he has just about every tool you want from a top NHL defenseman, and he finished in the top-seven in Norris Trophy voting last season.
Not only the first home-grown captain in team history, but also the first home-grown star.