Developing players through the minor leagues and teaching them core values is vital to any NHL team’s success.

To aid the progress of their younger prospects, the Predators wanted someone who truly understood their ways and their system. So on Wednesday they hired Scott Nichol as director of player development, a job that had been vacant for a year.

Nichol, 38, who played for the Predators from 2005-09, replaces Martin Gelinas, who held the position from 2009-12 but left last summer to become an assistant coach for the Calgary Flames.

Nichol played for the St. Louis Blues the last two seasons. The veteran of 662 NHL games (209 with the Predators) posted 211 points in his career.

“He’s a guy who has a good story, was always the underdog, maybe a little undersized guy that played in the minors a lot,” general manager David Poile said. “He battled, and I think he has a great story to tell younger players to what it takes to be a pro player.”

Poile said he didn’t immediately replace Gelinas because he hoped “someone like (Nichol) would become available.” When Nichol decided to retire, Poile saw him as the right choice.

The position is important to Nashville’s ability to grow and harness the potential of its prospects. Gelinas often traveled around North America, meeting with young players and giving them advice. He once invited forward Austin Watson, a first-round pick in 2010, to his home in Calgary for two weeks of mentoring about pro hockey.

The Predators hope Nichol can develop the same rapport with prospects and help them turn into more finished products by the time they reach the NHL.