Since Predators Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Development Scott Nichol landed in Nashville’s front office over a decade ago, the Music City has changed almost unrecognizably around him.

On the ice at Centennial Sportsplex, Predators Development Camp is no exception.

“We’ve got five goalies coaches and four player development guys, and I look down the ice and see all our Milwaukee coaches out there, our development coaches are skating,” Predators Assistant General Manager and Director of Player Development Scott Nichol said. “When I first started, I was the only one out there. So, I think it's great the resources that our kids have now, and that's what we keep reiterating to them. Lean on the staff, because we're all here for you, and we have lots of good knowledge.”

Attending his first Predators Development Camp since being acquired at the NHL trade deadline earlier this year, defensive prospect Jeremy Hanzel hopes to step up his physical game when he makes his professional North American debut this season.

In Stanley Cup champion and Defense Development Coach Rob Scuderi, as well as former Predators blueliner and current Pro Development Coach Mark Borowiecki, Hanzel has been able to start making his goal a reality.

“They’ve been unreal,” Hanzel said. “Everyone here has just been so resourceful. And I'm just trying to be a sponge and take everything in from everyone I can.”

The same has been true for Predators first-round pick Tanner Molendyk, who stepped onto the ice on Tuesday for the first time in months. Nashville’s development coaches were there to help him along.

“They’re huge,” he said. “Scuderi has just been talking to me about all-year kind of stuff, just chatting and seeing how things are going. And then Boro is Boro, he’s hilarious and he’s just a ton of fun to be around.”

Nashville's on-ice coaching staff isn't limited to the blueline.

Between the pipes, newly hired Director of Goaltending Mitch Korn works alongside Predators Goalie Coach Ben Vanderklok, Milwaukee Admirals Goalie Coach Jason Barron and retired franchise legend and European Development Coach Pekka Rinne.


Admirals Head Coach Karl Taylor, Assistant Coaches Scott Ford and Greg Rallo are here too, along with Predators Skating Coach Jacki Munzel, Forward Development Coach Nathan Gerbe and Skills Coach Sebastien Bordeleau.

Like Strength and Conditioning Coach David Good’s approach to off-ice training, the on-ice coaching group isn’t looking to make each prospect run the gauntlet at camp, nor are they expecting them to be NHL ready by the end of the week.

“I tell most of the guys that we're not going to change your game in five and a half days in July,” Scuderi said. “But if they can come here and pick up two or three things - maybe it's one thing from the nutrition aspect, maybe it's something from strength and conditioning - that will make them that much better. If you come to two or three development camps and you're able to do that, you're going to be that much better than everybody else.”

As much as the week can benefit the players, it also allows Nashville’s coaches to drill down deeper with the people underneath all the equipment.

“It’s a chance to get in front of these guys,” Scuderi said. “We see them play a lot on video, we see them play in person. But it's really a chance to get to know them a little more, get to know them as people, get to see what makes them tick, then maybe see a little bit more detail in their game and see what we can work and focus on when they're heading into the next season.”


“Everyone plays the game differently,” Gerbe said. “They skate differently, they shoot differently, they think differently. So, it's kind of a different approach with everyone. And that's why I always stress that you’ve got to know the person and then you build off that.”

Some of the best building happens off the ice. Indeed, as beneficial as the drills and scrimmages are, there’s plenty more the prospects can gain during the week’s daily video sessions.

Clips covering the Predators style of play, as well as some of the prospects’ own highlights, are reviewed in depth.

“We’ll usually mimic our videos toward our practice plans and what the trends are in the NHL,” Nichol said. “We could be here for two weeks going through all the little tiny details of their game, but that was when they leave and go back home and they have their skill coach, they have their skating coach, they can lean on us and ask us for a good drill, and then we'll send them drills and they can practice on that.”

“Sometimes you love video and sometimes you hate it, but I think there's a happy medium in there that can be used for positivity,” Scuderi said. “I think it's great because we've included a lot of their clips. Yes, it's great to see the Nashville guys doing their stuff and everyone wants to play in the National Hockey League, but it's also important that we positively reinforce that they are already doing some of that, and that we just want to see them do it a bit more.”

As the prospects begin their respective seasons this fall, Nashville’s development coaches will continue keeping tabs on their individual journeys and providing them with anything they might need to move closer to accomplishing their dreams of playing in the NHL.

“Not every single guy is going to get that chance, but for the few that do climb through some of the lower ranks and make it to the top level, it is a special feeling,” Scuderi said. “I remember the first time I put on my NHL jersey, my college jersey - whatever it is - you always have a real fondness for the ladder that you climb. And certainly with the NHL being the top league in the world, everyone who makes it remembers that moment maybe just a little more.”

The prospects will spend one more day at Centennial Sportsplex before Development Camp concludes with the Future Stars Game at Ford Ice Center Bellevue on Saturday.

Click here to learn more about the exhibition finale and click here to view the full Development Camp roster.

Related Content