The 2014-15 season was one of growth for Victor Bartley, as it was for many members of the Nashville Predators. The 27-year-old defenseman showed his physical style of play has a key role within the new system instilled by Head Coach Peter Laviolette and added a few more tools to his arsenal as the club’s utility man.
Not only did the blueliner log time as a third-line, shutdown forward in a game, but he also placed in the club’s upper ranks in hits with 77 in just 37 regular season games played. Perhaps most impressive was Bartley stepping in to make his Stanley Cup Playoff debut versus the Chicago Blackhawks and providing a spark alongside D-partner Cody Franson.
Signed for the 2015-16 campaign, the Maple Ridge, British Columbia, native will seek to expand his role as a top-six defender with the Preds next season.
Stu Grimson's Three Thoughts:
- It would be easy to understate Bartley’s value to the Predators as the sixth or seventh defender, but it should not be overlooked. To sit for stretches and then be expected to make an impact when called upon is a difficult thing for any player to do.
- The 27-year-old blueliner navigated his position in the lineup successfully; he jumped in after a 20-game absence and was an impact player in the second half of the season.
- I’m very impressed with the confidence he has in his game. Bartley is not shy to activate up into the offense, and he made a difference when he did.
Victor Bartley sends a one-touch pass across the crease to Colin Wilson for the game-winning tally versus New Jersey:
According to No. 64:
- Considers a cougar to be his spirit animal.
- Calls 300 his favorite movie, Keith Urban his top musician and McDonald’s his guilty pleasure.
- Is most afraid of snakes.
By the Numbers:
- 100 - Bartley hit the century mark of games played in the NHL when he skated in a 3-2 overtime victory versus the Tampa Bay Lightning on Feb 10.
- 10 - A new career high in assists set this past campaign, topping a total of seven helpers recorded in 2012-13 (his first in the NHL).
- 1 - Stanley Cup Playoff debut made when he played in Game Three at the United Center versus the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Quarterfinals (the defenseman ultimately logged four playoff appearances in 2015).
As the calendar flipped to 2015, Victor Bartley took on a new role...sort of. With a handful of forwards absent from practice on Jan. 2, Bartley filled in on the second line with Colin Wilson and Mike Fisher. Here's an excerpt from the locker room following that practice:
“I’ve been inserted onto the second line and I think me, Willy and Fish have shown some real chemistry out there,” Bartley said. “Things are feeling good and hopefully they keep me there.”
Having logged all of 2015 as a forward, Bartley said perhaps this is a new beginning he should get used to quickly.
“They’re really putting a lot of trust in me putting me on the second line, that’s a lot of responsibility,” Batley said with a laugh. “It definitely feels good, and I’m excited to be there.”
Veteran forward Eric Nystrom wasn’t so easily impressed, however.
“When he was playing forward [on Thursday], he couldn’t have looked more like a defenseman,” Nystrom joked. “He had no clue what he was doing. In one drill I called him out because he was lost since the defense never pays attention to what we’re doing.”
What appeared to start off as only a practice dynamic became a reality in early April when Bartley played as a forward for the first time in a game at Bridgestone Arena versus the Dallas Stars. The rest of the Preds were only slightly impressed: Bartley Tries Out Forward - April 6
The defenseman started to find his spot in the Preds defense corps when a four-game suspension to Anton Volchenkov put Bartley in the lineup alongside Seth Jones: Bartley Part of Defensive Successes - Nov. 6
Bartley goes head-to-head with forward Taylor Beck in a hilarious string of competitions including full-stick taping and break the water bottle: Video: Off-Ice Skills Competition - Jan. 15
Social Media Moments:
Even while goaltender Carter Hutton's career as a broadcaster continues to blossom, there has to be some good natured chirping from his teammates:
Social media strategy book in the works?
After rookie Filip Forsberg won a car at the 2015 All-Star Weekend in Columbus, Bartley knew Mattias Ekholm's role as the "Swedish Chauffeur" was about to diminish:
Yes, that bag of popcorn is already halfway gone...
Top Five Photos: