Well-traveled Eric Nystrom planting roots in Nashville


Journeyman isn’t a word usually associated with a former first round draft pick, but it’s likely appropriate for left wing Eric Nystrom. Originally selected 10th overall by Calgary back in 2002, he only spent three seasons with the Flames at the NHL level before signing a free agent contract with the Wild in the summer of 2010.

For a variety of reasons though, things just didn’t work out in Minnesota. However, he was able to get his career back on track after being dealt to the Dallas Stars at the beginning of the 2011-12 season.

For one thing, he’s proven to be a reliable forward, having not missed a regular single game in three of the past four seasons.

Now, coming off signing a four-year contract with the Predators, Nystrom has found what he hopes to be a long-term home in Nashville.

“What you see is what you get,” said the former Michigan Wolverine. “I knew playing against them a lot, the type of style they play, and since I came it’s just that. The guys work so hard. There are such good guys on this team and the coaching staff, they are just good people that you want to play well and you want to play hard for them. That’s really been a lot of fun. It’s contagious when you have a work ethic like that around the room. It’s been awesome.”

Offensively, he’s off to a good start too, scoring four goals in the team’s first 14 games. That’s a pace well ahead of last year, when he posted seven goals over 48 games.

The 30-year old New York native has also taken kindly to a pair of his new teammates.

“There isn’t a moment that isn’t funny being around that guy,” he said,, when asked about Rich Clune. “He’s one interesting character. He’s fun to be around.”

Nystrom also wanted to make sure that he pointed out something else about the former LA Kings forward.

“He has a hard-core crush on Connie Britton.”

Well, playing in Nashville, wouldn’t it only be right that one of the Predators has a crush on the TV star? Perhaps there’s more to the story though. Who knows.

At the other end of the spectrum, Nystrom – like everybody else – has been more than impressed with what he’s seen so far from rookie defenseman Seth Jones.

“I’m like holy cow, this guy is born in the ’90s for crying out loud,” he said with a big laugh. “Man, the days fly by. It’s nice having a young guy in the room though. He’s a good kid, really solid kid and he’s been playing so well. He’s a huge part of our team, but at the same time I still have to tell him – he’s standing up when he shouldn’t be. I say ‘Hey Jones, sit down, the veterans are going first.’”

Turning to a more serious topic, former NHL defenseman Garry Galley, now an analyst with Hockey Night in Canada, recently described Kings captain as a ‘predator.’

The picture above was taken while Nystrom was training in Los Angeles at this time a year ago, during the NHL lockout. During that period he got to know Brown off the ice – somebody he’s played against plenty of times, having spent his entire career in the Western Conference.

“I wouldn’t say he’s a predator,” Nystrom noted. “I definitely think he plays on the edge, for sure. He’s a physical player. I mean, I’m a physical player too, so who am I to say. But there are sometimes where when you play on the edge, you’re in a position that just by the way that it sometimes happens too quick. Dustin Brown is a marquee player, and physical play is his brand. I don’t know if I would throw him in the same category as [Raffi} Torres or {Patrick} Kaleta, with ten or twenty-game suspensions, but he definitely plays with an edge."

For his part, Clune had much more to say about Galley's comments. And he was much more blunt about it. Click here if you missed his comments on the subject.

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