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Flashback: The 2003 NHL Entry Draft in Nashville

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators
June 21-22, 2003

This coming summer, the NHL Entry Draft takes place at Scotiabank Place in Ottawa.  Five summers ago, the hockey world convened in Nashville during the third weekend in June for the annual NHL Entry Draft.  Over 13,000 fans attended the two-day event which had an estimated economic impact of nearly $10 million on Middle Tennessee.

“Every hockey person I have ever talked to has said Nashville was their favorite draft because of the hospitality we had, in addition to the preparation and professionalism of the organization,” Predators Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton said. “It doesn’t hurt that the downtown area is so fun and encompassing for people to come and take in.”

Besides the memorable backdrop that Music City provided, the 2003 Draft looks to have offered one of the deepest talent pools in recent history.  The Predators took full advantage.  Nashville made 13 picks overall, including eight of the first 98 players selected, and took the opportunity to bolster the organizational blue line drafting defensemen Ryan Suter, Kevin Klein and Shea Weber.

Other great young talents drafted in Music City in 2003 that are now lighting up the NHL include Patrice Bergeron (Boston), Steve Bernier (San Jose), Dustin Brown (Los Angeles), Brent Burns (Minnesota), Matt Carle (San Jose), Jeff Carter (Philadelphia), Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh), Ryan Getzlaf (Anaheim), Nathan Horton (Florida), Ryan Kesler (Vancouver), Milan Michalek (San Jose), Zach Parise (New Jersey), Corey Perry (Anaheim), Dion Phaneuf (Calgary), Mike Richards (Philadelphia), Brent Seabrook (Chicago), Eric Staal (Carolina), Lee Stempniak (St. Louis), Thomas Vanek (Buffalo) and Nikolai Zherdev (Columbus).

“The 2003 Draft in Nashville was such a high; going up there in the first round and being welcomed by the hometown fans was incredible, especially since it was the first time I had run an amateur draft,” Fenton said. “It was both nerve-wracking and fulfilling because we made our mark in the scouting world that year by drafting the players we were able to.”
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