The Nashville Predators Top 15 All-Time Draft Picks: Part 4
In conjunction with the Nashville Predators 15th Anniversary celebration and the 2013 NHL Entry Draft this coming weekend in Newark, N.J., each day we take a look back at the Top 15 draftees throughout the club’s history.
The Top 15 draftees will be in chronological order.
Shea Weber, D
No. 49, 2003
Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Nashville’s run on defensemen continued with the selection of defenseman Shea Weber – he was the third of six defenseman taken during the 2003 Entry Draft. Weber returned to the WHL after the draft and recorded 32 points (12g-20a) in his second season with Kelowna. In the 2004 WHL playoffs, Weber posted 17 points (3g-14a) in 17 games helping the Rockets to the 2004 Memorial Cup. Weber was named to the tournament all-star team after recording four points in four games as the Rockets defeated the Gatineau Olympiques to win their first Memorial Cup.
Following his successful junior career, Weber reported to the Milwaukee Admirals for the 2005-06 season, but eventually split time between Milwaukee (46gp) and Nashville (28gp). Weber made his NHL debut on Jan. 6, 2006, against Detroit. Three months later, on April 6, 2006, he scored his first NHL goal against Reinhard Divis of the St. Louis Blues in a 3-0 Nashville victory.
Following a standout season in 2008-09, Weber began to establish himself as one of the League’s premier defenseman, including back-to-back seasons as a Norris Trophy finalist in 2010-11 and 2011-12, where he finished second in voting, and three consecutive All-Star Game selections, becoming the first Predators draftee to attend three All-Star Games. On July 8, 2010, Weber was named the fifth captain in Nashville Predators history, becoming the youngest captain in franchise history and the first home-grown captain.
The Sicamous, B.C., native ranks first on the franchise’s all-time goals (108) and game-winning goals (17) by a defenseman list, and is second only to Kimmo Timonen in points by a Nashville blueliner (291). Weber is also Nashville’s all-time leader in power-play goals (49), and is third on the franchise’s goals list and fourth in points.
Pekka Rinne, G
No. 258, 2004
Karpat Oulu (SM-Liiga)
The Preds European scouts would arrive early to watch a back-up goalie play in warm-ups, but the extra work paid off when Pekka Rinne was selected with Nashville’s second-to-last pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. Rinne had served as Niklas Backstrom’s back-up during his time in Karpat, playing in just 22 games over three seasons prior to being drafted.
Rinne was signed in August of 2005 and arrived in North America for the 2005-06 season. During his first season in Milwaukee, Rinne backstopped Milwaukee to the AHL Calder Cup Finals with 10 postseason wins and three shutouts. He also made two appearances in Nashville, earning a win in his NHL debut on Dec. 15, 2005.
Since Rinne becoming a full-time NHLer in 2008-09, Rinne leads all NHL netminders in shutouts (30), is ranked fifth in save percentage (.919), sixth in wins (152) and tied for seventh in goals-against average (2.36). The Kempele, Finland native is the franchise all-time record holder in career shutouts (30), goals-against average (2.36) and save percentage (.920), and is just eight wins shy of surpassing Tomas Vokoun for the club’s all-time wins mark (153; Vokoun, 161). He is the franchise’s all-time playoff leader in games played (28), wins (13) and goals-against average (2.41).
The 6-5, 217-pound goaltender posted a career year in 2011-12, after signing a seven-year, $49 million contract on his birthday (Nov. 3). He led the NHL and set a franchise records in wins (43), shots faced (2,153) and saves (1,987) and tied for the League lead and set the franchise record, in addition to setting a career high in games played (73). Rinne set a franchise record with 11 consecutive wins between Jan. 7-Feb. 4, equaling the longest single-season winning streaks by an NHL goaltender since 1998-99. Rinne recorded five assists in 2011-12, joining Martin Brodeur as the only goaltenders since 1993-94 to lead the league in wins and points in the same season. Rinne finished the 2011-12 season as Vezina Trophy finalist as the League’s top netminder – he would finish third in Vezina voting. Rinne also received the seventh-most votes for the Hart Trophy as League MVP.
Patric Hornqvist, RW
No. 230, 2005
With the final pick of the 2005 NHL Entry, Nashville picked Mr. Irrelevant, Patric Hornqvist. After being drafted in 2005, Hornqvist went on to complete a successful career in Sweden’s top league. He was named the Swedish Elite League’s Rookie of the Year in 2006-07 after leading junior players with 23 goals. Hornvist’s 23 goals broke a record previously held by Peter Forsberg for most goals by a junior player in Elite League history.
In his first full NHL season in 2009-10, Hornqvist became the first Predators draftee to score at least 30 goals in a season, and just the fourth Preds player all-time to surpass the 30-goals mark. Since then, the Solletuna, Sweden native has recorded at least 20 goals in all three of his full NHL seasons (not including the shortened 2012-13 season).
Hornqvist is just the ninth of 44 players selected with the final pick of an entry draft (modern era, since 1969) to go on to play in the NHL. He is only one of three Mr. Irrelevants to play at least 100 NHL games and record at least 150 points.
On April 30, Hornqvist signed a five-year, $21.25 million contract, keeping the Swedish forward in Nashville through the 2017-18 season.