Nick Spaling began playing hockey in the minors first for the Drayton Flyers (OMHL) and then for Norwell High School. He moved on to play for the Listowel Cyclones, a Jr. B team in the OHL (2004-05), and the Kitchener Rangers after being drafted in the 6th round (118th overall) of the OHL Priority Selection in 2005. During the time he played in the OHL (2005 – 2008), he was named the team’s rookie of the year in 2005-06; played in the CHL Top Prospects game; was named to the OHL All-Stars and competed in the OHL All-Star Classic for the Western Conference All-Stars. In his final year (2007-08), he was named the team’s alternate captain and earned the William Hanley Trophy as the league’s “most sportsmanlike player.”
He had been selected to participate in Team Canada’s training camp for the 2008 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, but came down with mono and ultimately could not play.
In the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, the Nashville Predators drafted Spaling in the second round (58th overall). After playing a full season with Nashville’s farm team, the Milwaukee Admirals (2008-09), he divided his time between the AHL and NHL until the 2010-11 season. He made his NHL debut with the Predators on December 15, 2009 while taking 50 NHL games to score his first goal on December 13, 2010 against the New York Islanders. Just a few months later in the same season, he played in his 100th NHL career game on April 5, 2011 and signed a two-year extension with the Predators in July 2011. He also played in his 200th career game in February 2013.
He plays a defensive role as a forward being a key part of the Predators penalty kill. It’s a specialty he’s developed over his short career through his attention to detail which he acquired under the direction of Peter DeBoer (presently the head coach of the New Jersey Devils), his head coach while playing in Kitchener.
“He’s a real hard-nosed coach, and he demanded a lot of his players in Juniors,” Spaling commented. “He taught a lot of work ethic. He demanded so much that you brought your game and played hard every night.”