Welcome to Last Word on Hockey’s One Hit Wonder series. Each day, we will take a look at a new team’s three biggest one-hit wonders. These are players that had one great season or playoff run but never did anything like that again. Join us every day for a new team! Today we take a look at the Nashville Predators One-Hit Wonders.
The Nashville Predators Top Three One-Hit Wonders
Up first on the list for the Nashville Predators One Hit Wonders is back-up goaltender, Dan Ellis. Ellis was drafted in the second round (60th overall) by the Dallas Stars in the 2000 Entry Draft. The Saskatchewan native got a brief taste of the NHL in 2004, when he debuted for the Stars in a token 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Although, he would have to wait three and a half years for his second crack of the whip.
In 2007, after several pedestrian seasons in the AHL, the Stars chose not to renew Ellis’ contract. The Canadian walked into free agency where he was snapped up by the Predators. Nashville had just traded away fan-favourite, franchise netminder, Tomas Vokoun, and were clearing out shop amid rumours of a takeover and relocation. Therefore, Ellis arrived in Tennessee with a starting position very much up for grabs.
Dan Ellis was the fifth goaltender to be selected from a crop, which included Ilya Bryzgalov (third goaltender drafted) and Henrik Lundqvist. “The King” was taken 205th overall in 2000 and was the ninth goaltender to be selected that year. All things considered; Ellis’ value was accurately projected within his class. He finished his career tied for fourth in games played (212) and third in save percentage (.906) among his draft peers.
Ellis produced a remarkable first year (2007-08) in Smashville. The 6’0”, 185-pound netminder continued his NHL win streak, which started almost four years prior, on debut in Dallas. He tallied seven wins (six with the Predators) on the bounce to begin his career, tying him for third-best in League history for consecutive wins to start a career.
His season save percentage of .924 (first in the NHL) and goals saved above average (GSAA) of 17.20 (sixth) led the Predators to a fourth playoff berth in their history. On top of that, he bookended the season with a shutout streak of 233:38, good enough for eighth-best in the NHL’s modern era.
To put this all into perspective, Ellis’ second-best season, in terms of save percentage was 13 points lower than his 2007-08 record. What is more, he never had another positive GSAA season in his career.
He was a behemoth in the 2008 postseason too. And while the Predators slumped to a fourth consecutive first-round defeat, Ellis was lights out in the series. He finished with a team-carrying .938 save percentage.
After the Wonder
In June 2008, Ellis signed a two-year extension with Nashville, worth $3.5 million. However, by December, just 20 games after his breakout year, Ellis was on the sidelines playing second fiddle to the newest rookie sensation, Pekka Rinne.
Ellis’ form, much like Chris Mason’s the year before, withered in the presence of fierce competition from Rinne. And once the Fin had wrestled away the starting role, he would never relinquish it.
Ellis caught lightning in a bottle during the 2007-08 season. His career is a paragon for how unpredictably absurd the goaltending position can be. After his brief apex on the back of an elite-calibre season, Ellis’ numbers tapered off into replacement level territory for much of his career, thereafter.
A right-winger who showed flashes of brilliance but struggled to consistently deliver; Sergei Krivokrasov is the second of the Nashville Predators One Hit Wonders. Born in the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), Krivokrasov was drafted at a time when the NHL had only 22 players from modern-day Russia. Coincidentally, Krivokrasov’s rookie year in the 1992-93 season was the first NHL season held entirely after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The 5’-11”, 185-pound, Angarsk-native began his career with the Chicago Blackhawks. Drafted 12th overall in 1992, Krivokrasov played parts of six seasons with the Hawks, but struggled to build upon his watershed, 1994-95 season; he scored 12 goals and 19 points in 41 games. As a result, he was shipped off to the incoming Nashville Predators during the 1998 expansion draft.
Krivokrasov recorded a pitiful two points in 21 career playoff games for the Blackhawks. However, while they both ultimately came within series losses, he certainly made them memorable ones. Both of his tallies were overtime goals against the league’s best, Colorado Avalanche. The first was in Game 3 of the Conference Semi-finals in 1996 and the second came a year later in Game 3 of the first round. He, therefore, holds the pretty unique accolade of having every career playoff point as an overtime winner. They call him, Mr Clutch.
In the Nashville Predators’ inaugural season, Krivokrasov transformed from a bottom-six contributor into a first-line marksman. He dominated in his new surroundings, potting 25 goals, which effectively doubled his career-best individual season record. The Soviet winger also led the Predators skaters in scoring, with the next closest (Cliff Ronning) being a further seven goals back.
Krivokrasov finished the year with 48 points and was the third-highest point-leader for Nashville. His rich vein of form and trailblazing season received recognition in the form of an invitation to the NHL All-Star Game in 1999. He was the first Predator to appear in an All-Star game.
After the Wonder
The season after, Krivokrasov’s form returned to what it was during his Blackhawks’ days. He played a further three seasons in the NHL and didn’t manage to score 25 goals combined during that time. He moved from Nashville to the Calgary Flames and later played for the Minnesota Wild and the Anaheim Ducks.
In 2002, he left North America to return to Mother Russia. Krivokrasov would compete in the KHL for a further six seasons to finish his career. Playing the role of the league’s nomad, he dressed for six clubs and scored 79 goals and 153 points.
The final selection for the trio of Nashville Predators One Hit Wonders is Sebastien Bordeleau. Son of former, Vancouver Canuck, Paulin Bordeleau, Sebastien continued the family tradition of NHL success when he was drafted in the third round (73rd overall) by the Montreal Canadiens in 1993.
Bordeleau spent much of his early career developing in the QMJHL with the Hull Olympiques. Although, after recording a 50-goal, 128-point season in 1994-95, he was promoted to the Fredericton Canadiens in the AHL. When he was finally called up for his first full season in the NHL in 1997-98, he posted a modest six goals and eight assists.
The Canadiens chose not to protect Bordeleau for the Nashville Predators expansion draft in the off-season of 1998. They instead opted to deal him to Nashville in order to shield defenceman, Peter Popovic from selection.
Little did the Canadiens know that Bordeleau was on the cusp of his most successful NHL season. The centreman joined Nashville along with the aforementioned Krivokrasov, for the franchise’s first year. Bordeleau finished fourth behind his Soviet teammate, clearly benefiting from his new surroundings. He scored 16 goals and 40 points and was a significant member of the Predators’ penalty kill.
After the Wonder
Much like Krivokrasov, Bordeleau failed to maintain momentum after his breakout season. In 2000-01, he suffered an abdominal injury, which forced him to sit out the entire season. On his return, he flirted with the NHL for a few more seasons. But his appearances were fleeting, and he never mounted serious competition for a roster spot.
Sebastien left the NHL after seven seasons. However, he did manage to scrape past his father’s three-year NHL record of 89 points. The 185-pound forward posted a modest 37 goals and 61 assists in 251 career NHL games.
Bordeleau went back to Europe, where he spent a lot of time in his youth, thanks to his father’s career in the eighties. Sebastien played out the vast majority of his European leg with SC Bern, one of the most successful franchises in Switzerland. Bordeleau’s success culminated with a Swiss National League victory in 2004. For six of his 10 seasons, Bordeleau remained a prominent scoring threat. He finished his Swiss career with 156 goals and 383 points.
After retiring, Sebastien went into coaching and is still in the profession to this day. Most notably, he has spent time as a skills coach for the Montreal Canadiens and the Montreal Canadiennes in the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. In 2019, Bordeleau was named as the Forward Development Coach for the Nashville Predators.
As it happens, Sebastien’s son, Thomas, could be about to extend the family’s NHL alumni. The third generation Bordeleau is eligible for draft selection in the upcoming 2020 Entry Draft. And with the Predators taking the New Jersey Devils’ second-round pick, and Thomas projected to go early in that round, could we be about to see a father-son duo in Nashville?