The Florida Everblades (ECHL) have announced an affiliation with the NHL’s Nashville Predators, a partnership that begins with the 2019-20 season.
The Everblades will serve as a developmental affiliate for the Predators and their primary developmental affiliate, the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals, starting with the 2019-20 season.
“We are thrilled to have the Nashville Predators as our new NHL affiliate,” said Everblades President and General Manager Craig Brush. “Nashville’s President of Hockey Operations and General Manager David Poile has done a remarkable job developing an expansion franchise into one of the most prominent teams in the NHL. We are looking forward to becoming an integral part of the development of players for the Predators and Milwaukee Admirals.”
Founded in the same year as the Everblades in 1998, the Predators have become a strong force in the Western Conference over the last five seasons and have qualified for the postseason in each of those campaigns. After falling short of the Stanley Cup Playoffs in their first five seasons since joining the NHL as an expansion franchise, the Predators have now advanced to the postseason in 12 of the last 15 seasons.
Since joining the ECHL for the 1998-99 season, the Everblades have been the ECHL affiliate of the Carolina Hurricanes, which are owned in part by Peter Karmanos Jr., the owner of the Everblades. In that time, 33 Everblades players have gone on to play in the NHL.
“We are incredibly grateful to the Hurricanes for their support over the past 21 seasons,” Brush said. “The stability and consistency of such a long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationship played a key role in our success, and we cannot thank the Hurricanes enough for being such a great partner with the Everblades.”
Like the Everblades, the Predators are coming off the best two-year stretch in team history. Poile, the winningest GM in NHL history, has helped direct Nashville to 100 combined wins over the last two seasons, a win total that is tied for the highest two-year win mark in team history.
Under the direction of fifth-year Head Coach Peter Laviolette, the Predators repeated as Central Division champions in the 2018-19 season. Nashville compiled a 47-29-6 record this year, posting at least 45 wins for the seventh time in team history. The division championship was the second in team history.
Last season, the Predators put together the best regular season in team history and set records for most wins (53) and points (117) in a season. Nashville went on to capture its first President’s Trophy, which is awarded to the NHL team with the most points in the regular season. That season came on the heels of the first Stanley Cup Finals appearance in team history in the 2016-17 season.
Nashville has been part of a development model that has seen a multitude of players advance to the NHL from the ECHL. In total, 661 ECHL alumni have gone on to play in the NHL. Of those players, 44 have played for Nashville. Three Everblades alumni have suited up for the Predators, a trio that includes Matt Hendricks, Shane Hnidy and Jason Morgan.
The connection between the two teams runs back several years. Nashville’s rookies have attended the NHL Prospects Showcase at Hertz Arena on several occasions. The Predators also hosted their main training camp at the venue in 2013.
The Everblades are coming off the third-highest regular season win total in team history after totaling a 50-16-5-1 mark in the 2018-19 campaign. Florida qualified for the playoffs for the 20th time in team history and advanced to the Eastern Conference Final for the second straight year and sixth time total in franchise history.