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Red Hot Tommy Novak Leads New-Look Nashville Predators



Nashville Predators Florida Panthers Tommy Novak
Tommy Novak celebrates a goal in the Nashville Predators’ 7-3 win over the Florida Panthers on Feb. 18, 2023. — Photo courtesy of @PredsNHL

SUNRISE — The Nashville Predators look a lot different than they did even a week ago but it seems like they have a new face at the top: Tommy Novak.

Novak burst onto the scene in the last month after starting the season with Nashville’s AHL team in Milwaukee, totaling nine goals and 22 points in just 27 games this season.

”He is a good offensive player, he has great instincts when he plays the game with speed and pace and I think that is when he lends himself to be able to make more plays,” Predators coach John Hynes said.

”We are constantly on about maintaining his competitive level and that consistency in his game but he has played some real consistent hockey for us and it’s good to see.”

With forwards Tanner Jeannot, Nino Niedereitter and Mikael Granlund shipped out in trades leading up to deadline day, one would tend to think it would be harder to compete, but it is ot that way for Novak.

The 25-year-old now leads a group of young and hungry players that still believes they have a shot at the playoffs.

”I think we still have a good team here and we want to win games to stay in the hunt of the playoffs,” Novak said.

”It is a big opportunity for the rest of our team that’s still here to show that we’re good players in this league and that we can still compete.”

That is a tough ask for a team that is sitting seven points out of the West’s last wildcard spot — even with three games in hand on Winnipeg for that final spot — but nobody could tell Novak that with the confidence he has been riding.

”His confidence is coming out now that he is getting the opportunity,” Cody Glass said.

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“We all knew that he was really skilled and he makes plays with really high IQ, so it wasn’t really unexpected for us. But at the same time, it’s really good to see. When you put him with good players, he can finish and good things happen.”

He is second on the Predators in points  — only trailing Roman Josi — with 11 points in eight games since being called up from his last long stint with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals and has stuck in the lineup like glue since.

“I’m just trusting my skills and my abilities and not really hesitating on the ice,” Novak said.

”I got the opportunity to play with some really good players over the last couple of weeks and a lot of ice time so I just think the pucks are going in and you got your ebbs and flows, but it’s been good.”

It has been a long road for Novak, who had just 27 NHL games played prior to the start of this season.

The University of Minnesota product impressed in his first tour of duty in the AHL, scoring 42 points in 60 games in the 2019-20 season, and parlayed that success into becoming a member of the team’s taxi squad for the stretch run of the 2020-21 season.

After making his NHL debut at the beginning of the 2021-22 season, he became one of the first players Nashville called up when injuries struck and made frequent trips back and forth from their AHL team in Milwaukee.

”I think it was one of those things where you could see it in the AHL with a bit more of a defensive style of game but in the NHL, it kind of blossoms out more,” Glass said.

”He gets more time and space, he really creative and now he’s working on his game. It’s been a pleasure to watch him.”

But his days with the Milwaukee Admirals seem to be numbered after he tripled his point total from last season in as many games.

”We have seen a lot of growth from him,” Hynes said.

”I think he understands what he needs to do at this level but I think he is growing confidence. Last year, he got a taste of the NHL, this year, I think he comes in and he feels like he belongs.”

Novak is riding a recent stretch of nine points (five goals, four assists) in his last six games, dating back to a two-goal outing against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 18.

He turned some heads in that Panthers room and he will certainly be a player to watch as he takes them on again on Thursday.

”There’s an unbelievable release on that young man,” Maurice said.

”I think he was playing on the fourth line when we were in there and he has moved up a line every game. He’s got an incredible release so you’ve got to get to the stick before he gets it off.

”Some guys you have to time early because they get it off their stick before you think it’s coming and he has gone bar down on a bunch of guys over the last couple of weeks.”

He was held scoreless for the first time in five games on Tuesday against the Penguins but continues to ride the momentum started that night.

With the moves Nashville made, Novak is now set to be a fixture in the team’s top six as they close out the season.

He will get a chance to prove that he can sustain this long run of success he is on and continue to be a key cog in what the Predators hope is an accelerated rebuild going forward.

“The next level of growth is ‘okay, now you now you belong,’ and there are certain attributes that he has that are clearly NHL impactful and now it’s about bringing those night in and night out and being consistent and having substance to his game,” Hynes said.

“Right now, he is playing a top-two center role so when you do that in this league, you’re playing against some of the best players in the world, so your ability without the puck is really important.”



  • When: Thursday, 7 p.m.
  • Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise 
  • TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Sun, ESPN+
  • Radio: WPOW 96.5 FM-2; WBZT 1230-AM (Palm Beach); WCTH 100.3-FM (Florida Keys); SiriusXM
  • Panthers Radio Streaming: SiriusXM 932
  • Season Series (Predators lead 1-0): Nashville 7, Florida 3 (Feb. 16)
  • Last season: Florida won 2-0
  • All-time regular season series: Florida leads 21-13-6, 3 ties
  • Up Next for the Panthers: Pittsburgh at Florida, Saturday, 6 p.m.

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