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A closer look at the newest Predators

by Kevin Wilson / Nashville Predators
With Jed Ortmeyer and Martin Gelinas sidelined due to knee injuries, Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager acquired a pair of forwards on Trade Deadline Day 2008 to bolster the team’s depth for the stretch run. Let’s take a closer look at the new duo – right winger Brandon Bochenski and left wing Jan Hlavac.

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Bochenski grew up in Blaine, MN, a suburb located 20 miles north of Minneapolis, and was an all conference football standout in addition to playing hockey. He would eventually hang up the cleats to focus on hockey while at the University of North Dakota, where he racked up 154 points (79g-75a) in 120 games playing with the likes of New Jersey’s Zach Parise, Edmonton’s Matt Greene and Buffalo’s Drew Stafford. He finished second in the nation in scoring his junior season (27g-33a-60pts. in 41 games), en route to being named a Hobey Baker Finalist as one of the Top 10 players in college hockey and helping the Fighting Sioux to a Western Collegiate Hockey Association title.

Since turning pro though, the 6-1, 187-pounder has racked up the frequent flyer miles. Bochenski was drafted by the Ottawa Senators 223rd overall (seventh round) of the 2001 Entry Draft, and played with their primary developmental affiliate in Binghamton of the American Hockey League in 2004-05. That season he led all league rookies with 70 points (34g-36a) and was named to the AHL All-Rookie Team.

Then, things got crazy.

Bochenski split time in Ottawa and Binghamton in 2005-06 before being dealt at the 2006 deadline to the Chicago Blackhawks. He would spend the next 11 months as a Blackhawk or Norfolk Admiral (Chicago’s AHL farm team), before being traded to Boston on Feb. 9, 2007. After 10 months and 35 games as a Bruin, Bochenski headed for the West Coast, being acquired by the defending Stanley Cup Champion Anaheim Ducks on Jan. 2, 2008. Just 55 days later, he would join his fifth NHL team in the Music City.

Hlavac has done his fair share of traveling to continue his career, with his done bouncing between continents. A native of Prague, Czech Republic, Hlavac chose the comforts of home over a chance at big bucks to start his career, playing in the Sparta Praha system for six seasons from 1993-99. He won a Czech Extraleague championship with the club in 1995-96, then finally decided to try out the North American game after his most productive season, 1998-99, when his 53 points (33g-20a) in 49 games ranked eighth in the league.

Drafted by the New York Islanders 28th overall (second round) in 1995, the 6-0, 201-pounder saw his rights sent to Calgary in 1998, then back east to the Rangers in 1999 – the trade which saw eventual 90-plus point man Marc Savard go to the Flames. He made waves as a 23-year-old rookie on Broadway in 1999-00, scoring 19 goals, but had the best campaign of his NHL career as a sophomore the following season, ranking first among second-year players with 64 points (28g-36a) in 79 contests. The deal that sent Eric Lindros to New York would see Hlavac sent to the City of Brotherly Love the following offseason, and after just 31 games as a Flyer, he headed cross country to Vancouver. The deals kept coming just 11 months later as Hlavac became a Hurricane.

One more season back with the Rangers in 2003-04 was at least temporarily enough of “The Show” for the road-weary Czech, who has also appeared in eight world championship tournaments donning his nation’s colors, and he headed back across the pond for three seasons. After one with Geneve-Servette of the Swiss League and a couple more with Sparta Praha, he inked a deal to come back to the NHL with the Lightning. His seventh career trade brought him to his fifth team, the Predators.
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