Tanner Jeannot has only three games of NHL experience, but he’s quickly becoming a Nashville Predators’ fan favorite.
Playing just 6:28 in his NHL debut on March 2 against the Carolina Hurricanes, Jeannot was sent back down to the AHL and waited patiently for his second chance.
After two-and-a-half years in the Predators’ organization, which included stops with two different AHL teams and two stints in the ECHL, the 23-year-old rookie was more than happy to wait only six weeks before getting called up again.
The wait was well worth it as the 6-foot-2 forward has made quite the impact in a 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars on Sunday and a 7-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday at Bridgestone Arena.
Against Dallas, Jeannot turned a few heads with his massive hit on Stars’ defenseman John Klingberg, sending him tumbling to the ice in cartwheel-like fashion. Jeannot played 10:31 in that game and registered four hits.
Then on Tuesday, the 207-pound winger had five hits in 11:41 of ice time against the defending Stanley Cup champion Lightning and scored his first NHL goal.
“He’s been great,” Predators’ captain Roman Josi said. “Just that Dallas game, it was such a physical game and him and [Yakov] Trenin and that whole line with [Colton] Sissons, it seems every time they’re out there, they’re hitting someone. It’s huge in games like that — in tight games, in playoff games and tonight too.
“He had a couple of huge hits and scored a goal, which we’re all really happy for him. It was his first NHL goal; it’s a big deal and he’s earned it the hard way.”
Added Jeannot: “It’s awesome to get that first one. It’s something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life for sure. Bigger and more importantly, we got the win tonight against a really good team.”
Nashville is currently down 10 players with nine on the team’s injured list and forward Michael McCarron serving a two-game suspension for an illegal hit. The Predators, however, are fortunate enough to have one of the deepest farm systems in the NHL.
Jeannot is the latest in a long line of rookies to step into the lineup and make a meaningful contribution. Nashville has been forced to play an NHL-high 12 rookies this season. Of those 12, five have scored at least one goal and nine have at least one point.
Tied for the fifth-most goals (10) and eighth-most points (21) in the AHL, Jeannot has been a force in his 13 games played for the Chicago Wolves. He leads the Wolves in goals, points and short-handed goals (two), and he ranks second in shooting percentage (33.3) and plus/minus (plus-13).
The intensity that made Jeannot one of the more dangerous players in Chicago’s lineup has carried over into his latest stint with Nashville. He has carved out a nice niche for himself on Nashville’s fourth line playing with the aforementioned Colton Sissons and Yakov Trenin. The trio has combined for three goals, five points and 22 hits in the last two games.
“I’ve been put on a line here that I think I can play my game really well with [Sissons and Trenin],” Jeannot said. “So, it’s been a really good transition.
“…Every night I just try to do everything I can to help the team win. If that’s make some hits or get in on the forecheck, be first on the puck and just be hard to play, that’s what I’m going to do. Tonight, I was fortunate to help out offensively with the goal there…The team’s rolling now.”
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_