We are now less than one month away from free agency in the NHL, and there is one white whale — one Moby Dick — to be had. That whale’s name is John Tavares, and he apparently has interest in Nashville. For those unfamiliar with the work of Tavares, he’s only one of the best centers in the game today. Outside of the lockout shortened season, Tavares’ lowest point total in a single season is 54. That was in his rookie year of 2009-10. Since then, he’s never totaled less than 66 points. Unfortunately for him, he’s played his entire career in Long Island/Brooklyn with the Islanders. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, and he finally has a chance to escape that hell hole.

According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, Tavares has interest in Nashville. That doesn’t mean it’ll be easy to lure him here though. There will be plenty of teams looking to court him. I was hoping his childhood friend, P.K. Subban, would do most of that recruiting for the Predators. However, Subban appears to be tied up between taking classes at Harvard and partying with The Expendables. I guess that just means I’ll have to do most of the leg work in recruiting Tavares.

Without further adieu, here is the first part of my Dear John series wherein I write letters to Johnny T in order to get him to sign with Nashville. In Part 1, we’ll be selling the team itself.

Dear John,

It comes to my attention that you will be a free agent when July 1 rolls around. Congratulations. It must be exciting to know that you are about to make more money over the next five years than the whole GDP of Tuvalu. However, I believe it would be fair to assume that money isn’t the only thing you’re looking for. After you’ve spent nine seasons in the arm pit of New York, I want you to know that there are better options out there. One of those options is the Nashville Predators, so let me tell you a little bit about them.

As you may have heard, this Predators team we have here in Nashville isn’t too shabby. Over the past three seasons, the Predators have won 26 playoff games. In that span, they’ve managed to win the Western Conference, win the Central Division, win the President’s Trophy, and were two wins away from a Stanley Cup in 2017. To the Islanders’ credit, they have lost 15 less playoff games than the Preds. See? I can be objective here.

As of Monday afternoon, Lou Lamoriello was named the new GM of the Islanders. I’m not going to take anything away from what he’s accomplished in his career, but I’ll just say he tries to turn every franchise he oversees into the New York Yankees. Does that sound fun? No. Real men should be able to grow facial hair if they want. The world should never be deprived of a great hockey beard. In Nashville, you have David Poile. He won 2017 GM of the Year in case you weren’t aware. He may be an older man, but he definitely isn’t a curmudgeon. I also heard that the Isles are now without a coach. That sucks, bud. At least the best time to fire your head coach is in June. Plenty of options out there. If you were to come to Nashville, you’d be coached by Peter Laviolette. All he’s done is win a Stanley Cup while appearing in two others. He’s only a top 5 coach in the game these days.

Now let’s get into the meat and potatoes — the actual roster itself. The Nashville Predators are a team that’s built to last. You may look at this roster and think, “Gee golly. This is already a team with great center depth. Where would I fit in?” Let me assure you that parts could be moved around. Either Kyle Turris or Nick Bonino could be moved to the wing in order to accommodate you. It goes without saying that you’d be the top center in town. All due respect to my main man Joey Mullets, but your numbers simply don’t lie. That means you’d be playing with some of our top flight wingers. Filip Forsberg is one of the best young wingers in the game. In the playoffs, he routinely embarrassed grown ass men on highlight reel goals. Just get the puck to him and you’ll rack up the apples. Viktor Arvidsson may not seem like much when looking at his height and weight, but he is a heat-seeking missile out there. At least one person in this town will tell you that his seven-year deal at $4.25 million per year wasn’t a good signing, but don’t listen to him. Arvi is a 30-goal scorer. Another winger you may get the privilege of playing with is Kevin Fiala. With arguably the best hair on the team, Fiala is an up-and-coming nice Swiss boy who uses his speed and skill to find the back of the net. I think you two would go together like biscuits and gravy on the ice. If Kyle Turris moves to the wing, you might get the chance to play with him too. His chain doesn’t weigh him down, though it might look like he does. He’s a great distributor and has a great smile.

All that is great, but I know what you’re thinking again. “My Islanders team scored a butt load of goals in 2017-18 and ended up with squat to show for it because our defense and goaltending was a hot pile of elephant dung.” That is not the case in Nashville. The Predators have one of the best blue lines in the NHL. As a whole, the Preds were second in the NHL with only 204 goals allowed last year. Captain Roman Josi, while also handsome, is one of the most dynamic defensemen in the league. Ryan Ellis has a great ginger beard, a rocket of a shot, and has excellent defensive awareness. Mattias Ekholm may be one of the most underrated players in the world. He’s terrific defensively, but he also had his best offensive season to date in 2017-18. Of course, there is also your childhood best friend. Your boy P.K. Subban hasn’t missed a beat since you last played together. He’s a Norris Trophy finalist this summer and has a decent shot to win it for the second time. He’s a great player on the ice and a great dude off it, but you already knew that. Come to Nashville and you guys can do karate in the garage all you want.

In net, there will be no more Jaroslav Halak or Thomas Greiss. You’ll have the best human ever to walk the planet and 2018 Vezina Trophy winner Pekka Rinne between the pipes — at least for one year. The haters and losers, of which there are many, will tell you that Peks is actually bad. These people think they’re smarter than everyone else but really aren’t. Don’t listen to them. Rinne only has one more year left on his contract, but his successor is already here in the form of Juuse Saros. He’s quite the kid. He’s like a mini Pekka Rinne. Actually, they have an amazing father-son dynamic. It’s the most heartwarming thing ever. That alone is worth signing here. The bottom line is that the goalies here don’t have as many holes as the plot of a DC movie.

The final thing I’ll go over in this letter is your would-be office in Nashville. Bridgestone Arena sits right in the heart of beautiful Nashville. It’s easily accessible and sits right on lower Broadway. It’s a perfect location. Then again, you could stay with the Islanders. Aren’t they splitting games between an arena built exclusively for basketball and an obsolete dump next year? It’s every employee’s dream to drive to different offices 40 minutes apart. If you only want one office, Nashville fits that bill.

That’s all I have for you today, but more letters like this will be on the way soon. Thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to read this. I very much appreciated.

Best of luck in making your big decision,

Austin Nivison

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