Nashville Natives Moulton, Schultheis Soaking Up Preds Development Camp
By Brooks Bratten, 06/29/19, 5:00AM CDT
It's only a matter of time.
One day, a young hockey player born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, will make his NHL debut. While that moment hasn't happened quite yet, a pair of hometown kids are experiencing what might just be the next best thing.
Defensemen Dylan Moulton and Ben Schultheis, both Nashville natives, have been participating in Predators Development Camp this week at Centennial Sportsplex. The camp invitees are skilled hockey players in their own right, and they're here to learn and become better players first and foremost.
But, come on, this is really something, right?
"It's been really cool," Schultheis said of the experience. "I grew up watching the Preds, and it's really cool to get behind the scenes, see how the players are treated and how the organization works. It's been awesome."
"I've lived here my whole life, and I grew up watching the team," Moulton said. "I was there for all the Playoff games when they made it to the [Stanley Cup] Final… and I've been coming to the rink since I was six months old, so it's pretty special."
Moulton, who is now 18, is from Nolensville, Tennessee, while 19-year-old Schultheis calls Mt. Juliet, Tennessee home. Moulton's father used to work for the Predators in the front office, and Schultheis took his first skating lesson on the same rink where he's been sporting the Preds logo on his jersey all week long.
Needless to say, it's been a surreal experience for the two young men who have plenty of memories with the organization over the years.
Schultheis says former Preds Captain Shea Weber is his favorite player, while Moulton was fond of former winger Paul Kariya, the first true offensive superstar ever on the Nashville roster. And then, there was the run in 2017.
"My best memory is the clinching game to get to the Final [in 2017]," Moulton said of Nashville's victory over the Anaheim Ducks to win the Western Conference. "That was the loudest I've ever heard [Bridgestone Arena]. That was pretty special. I was with my dad at that game, and I've never seen anything like it."
It's moments like that which have helped to not only grow the fanbase, but inspire a new generation of native Nashvillians to play the game. Moulton and Schultheis were once those young kids who watched the likes of Weber and Kariya patrol the ice for the Predators, and now, they're getting dressed in the same locker room, skating on the same ice and experiencing the same culture that players have come to know and love in Nashville over the years.
"I'm definitely trying to learn everything I can and soak it in like a sponge," Schultheis said. "They're giving us so much information, and I'm trying to learn it and be able to apply it to next season."
Development Camp: Dylan Moulton
"Getting the experience and everything, it's kind of like going to school and learning," Moulton said. "Especially learning from players like Dante Fabbro, how they carry themselves, how they treat their bodies, how to work out, it's really gaining all that experience, and hopefully I can build my game to that level at some point."
The two blueliners have done all right for themselves thus far - both have skated at the NAHL and USHL junior levels - and the NCAA route could come in short order.
But for now, they're focusing on their current duties at an NHL development camp - in their hometown.
"You have to step back every once in a while and appreciate what's going on," Moulton said. "I was by myself the other day, and I just took a moment to sit in the locker room. This is something special."