The Nashville Predators begin their quest for a return to the playoffs this week as players have begun to filter into Music City for preseason camp.
The Predators will be led in offense by returning veterans Steve Sullivan, J. P. Dumont, David Legwand, Marty Erat, and Captain Jason Arnott.
The Preds will boast one of the best defensive top three in the league with Shea Weber, Ryan Suter and Dan Hamhuis.
In goal, there are high expectations that Pekka Rinne will improve upon his stellar rookie year and will rise to become one of the league’s elite goaltenders.
The official opening day of training camp will be Saturday, September 12, when veteran players and roster invitees will undergo testing and physicals at the Predators facilities at Centennial Sportsplex in Nashville.
The first full day of on ice workouts will be the following day, Sunday September 13, at the Sportsplex. There will be three sessions beginning at 9:30 a.m. and running until 2:30 p.m. All pre-season workouts will be open to the public.
Fifty six players will be in camp for the Predators, all hoping to claim one of the final 23 roster spots that the team will open the season with in their first game at Dallas on October 3. The Predators first home game will be Thursday, October 9th against the Colorado Avalanche at the Sommet Center.
In conjunction with the main camp, the Predators will also hold a rookie camp from September 8-15 which will culminate in a pair of games against the Atlanta Thrasher rookies at the Duluth Ice Forum in Atlanta on September 14-15.
Twenty players will be involved in the rookie camp, seven of which will be non-roster invitees that the Preds want take a look at.
The rookie team will include four Predator first round draft picks from the last three years. The two rookie players with the best chance to make the Predators final squad are Colin Wilson, who has all the makings of a future NHL star, and Defenseman Jonathan Blum who will see time with the Preds at some point his year even if he doesn’t make the final cut.
The Predators will play six preseason games, three at home and three on the road. Home games on September 17 and 19 against Atlanta and Columbus, respectively, will be a part of the three day Pred’s Fest 09 event that will feature a free pre-season game, tailgate party, and the Predator’s new third jersey unveiling.
The Predator’s final pre-season home game will be Saturday, September 26 against the Carolina Hurricanes. All three pre-season games will began at 7 p.m. at the Sommet Center. Tickets are currently available at Ticketmaster and at the arena box office.
Buddy Oakes for PredsOnTheGlass and The Columbia Daily Herald