When the Nashville Predators originally signed Tanner Jeannot in 2018, not many assumed he would become such an integral part of the team’s identity.

To assume that an undrafted forward from Oxbow, Saskatchewan would, in only a few short years, become one of the team’s most important young players would have been ambitious.

But that’s exactly what happened last year. In his stellar rookie campaign, Jeannot made his presence known with 24 goals and 17 assists to go along with a league leading 14 fighting majors.

While the goals and assists are more important, and the reason he’ll be considered an important role player on next season’s Preds, it’s likely the fights that have gotten him the most attention.

On a recent episode of “The Hedge” with Andrew Walker, Jeannot talked about his breakout rookie season with the Preds in 2021-22, including his knack for dropping the gloves.

“It’s just one of those things that I could do,” Jeannot said. “It’s one of those ways that I could bring value to the team. And I’ve always, in my pro career, been a bigger guy. That’s one thing that I can do is stand up for my teammates and make sure no one’s taking liberties. Trying to create some space or try to change the momentum. Just to get a spark in the team.”

Even in his junior career with the Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL), Jeannot was known for fighting. But when asked if he went into his NHL rookie season intending to fight as much as possible, Jeannot was honest about his intentions.

Tanner Jeannot Nashville Predators
Apr 26, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Tanner Jeannot (84) and Calgary Flames defenseman Nikita Zadorov (16) have to be separated by linesman Ryan Gibbons (58) after a play at the end of the second period at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

“It ended up being [14 fights] which is more than I’ve ever done, but I’m not trying to go out there and look for a fight or anything. I just try to read the game and see how the flow is going. And if there’s an opportunity, I’m not scared to take it. Just help the team, that’s my mindset.”

Tanner Jeannot’s fight card

Jeannot’s fight card is an impressive one. According to Hockey Fights, Jeannot was declared the winner in 12 of his 14 fights last season, including wins over Michael Matheson, Hayden Hodgson, Nathan Beaulieu, and Logan Stanley.

When asked if there are any players in the league that he would be afraid to fight, Jeannot answered confidently.

“I don’t think so, right now,” Jeannot said. “It’s different when you’re looking someone in the eyes and it’s time to man up and ring the bell. There’s definitely some guys that you need to be prepared for. Because you don’t want to get hurt. If you’re ever playing against those guys, it’s kind of something that’s in the back of your head. Like I said, I never really go out there looking for it, but if something needs to happen, you just try to be as prepared as you can and do the best you can.”

One of the players the host brought up was Ryan Reaves, a notorious fighter with 74 NHL fights under his belt. Reaves currently plays on the New York Rangers, and the Rangers do come to Nashville on November 12th. Perhaps that will be the best chance for Jeannot to take on Reaves, should the game momentum require a shift.

Jeannot’s contributions not just with fists

Of course, the most important part of Jeannot’s game is his scoring ability. Playing on the 3rd line with Colton Sissons and Yakov Trenin (the “HERD” line), Jeannot’s 24 goals in 2021 ranked 4th highest on the team. His size, strength, and surprising speed allowed him to blaze paths to the net that ordinary 3rd liners are unable to find.

Not to mention, Jeannot’s shooting skills are above average. Opting for placement over power, his timing and accuracy can sneak up on goalies.

Jeannot is under contract for 2022-23 at the absurdly cheap price of $800,000, but he will become an RFA next summer. This past summer, his linemate Yakov Trenin was an RFA and elected for arbitration. That landed Trenin a two year contract at $1.7 million per year.

I’d expect Jeannot to get considerably more than $1.7 million per year, especially if he matches last year’s goal total of 24. Come next summer, Jeannot will probably be looking at a salary north of $3 million, assuming his game doesn’t take a significant step backward.

But all of that is on the business side of the game. From the sound of it, Jeannot is only focusing on the opportunities ahead and doing what he can to help the team.

“My whole career, I’ve had to work for everything I’ve gotten,” Jeannot said. “To do that, you just have to work as hard as you can and separate yourself from the pack to get opportunities. And once you get those opportunities, you work even harder so you don’t lose them. So that’s my mindset. Come to the rink every day, try to earn more opportunities, then when I get those opportunities, seize them and continue to build on the player that I am.”

— Featured image via Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports —