Drafting Skills: Nashville Predators

Recent Draft History – Evaluating the first 3 rounds of the last 5 Drafts for each team. I’ve left out 2016, as it’s way too early to tell on 95% of the picks. Instead, this will be examining drafts from 2011 to 2015.

Nashville Predators

2011 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded Ottawa for Mike Fisher. Ottawa made an awful pick here (Stefan Noesen), and meanwhile Fisher has become the captain in Nashville. I think any Preds fan would re-do this trade at any time, solid move here by Nashville.

Round 2 – Magnus Hellberg (G) 38th overall – Nashville got this pick in the Jason Arnott trade to New Jersey. Hellberg was traded to the Rangers for a 6th round pick in 2015. The brutal part of this pick, is that John Gibson was taken RIGHT after Hellberg. Gibson is one of the best up-and-coming goaltender in today’s game, while Hellberg has played all of 4 games. Huge miss by the Preds.

Round 2 – Mikka Salomaki (F) 52nd overall – Salomaki was injured most of this season, after finally making his (what appeard to be) full-time spot in the NHL. He played over 60 games 2 seasons ago, but was limited in point production with only 10 points. The Preds again missed out on two players that were taken within 10 picks of Salmoaki in William Karlsson and Nikita Kucherov.

Round 3 – Pick was traded to LA for 2 other draft picks, including the one used in 2012 to select Jimmy Vesey. More about him later on, but this pick was used to take Nick Shore – who has played 172 games in the NHL to date.

2012 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded to Buffalo for Paul Gaustad and the pick used to take Juuse Saros. There were some solid players available at this point in the draft, but Gaustad played 4 seasons for Nashville and Saros is likely the goalie of the future for the Preds, so I’ll give this a pass.

Round 2 – Pontus Aberg (RW) 37th overall – Easily the best Pontus in the NHL today. Aberg was having a great year in the AHL (52 points in 56 games), before being called up late in the year due to injuries. He played a minimal role for the Predators, but plays a good two-way game. He has always had a good offensive touch early in his career, and the Preds are hoping he can grow on that going into next season.

Round 3 – Jimmy Vesey (LW) 66th overall – Vesey declined to sign his entry-level deal with Nashville, becoming a sought after free agent this past summer. Vesey had a disappointing year, putting up only 27 points in 80 games. If you’re going to have the attitude Vesey had to NOT sign with the team that drafted you, you better put-up better totals than that. The Preds did manage to snag a 3rd round pick in dealing out Vesey’s rights, so all-in-all not a bad pick here.

Round 3 – Brendan Leipsic (LW) 89th overall – He was traded out of Nashville in the Franson/Santorelli. He’s got a chance to be taken by Vegas in the expansion draft, but either way he should be in the NHL next year. This was a great late find in the 3rd round, despite no longer being in the organization this should be looked at as a good pick.

2013 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Seth Jones (D) 4th overall – Another player who’s no longer in Nashville, Jones was traded for Ryan Johansen in 2016. Johansen easily became the Preds best centre, so I think the trade benefited both clubs. Jones has been a top pairing guy since coming into the NHL, playing the second most games from that draft year (315). He’s been more than anyone could hope for picking 4th.

Round 2 – Pick was traded to Montreal for Andrei Kostitsyn. He came in and scored 12 points in 19 games for the Preds, before leaving the NHL in the summer. Decent trade for what they got, and the pick didn’t turn into much yet (Jacob de la Rose).

Round 3 – Jonathan-Ismael Diaby (D) – 64th overall – Diaby has bounced between the AHL and ECHL since turning pro. With the depth the Preds have on the blueline, and the fact that Diaby hasn’t progressed much over the years, it’s unlikely he makes the NHL at this point.

Note: Juuse Saros was selected in the 4th round, and is viewed as the goalie of the future in Nashville, which could come at any time.

2014 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Kevin Fiala (LW) 11th overall – Fiala made the jump up to Nashville full-time this year playing in 54 games with the big club. He has a high level playmaking ability which will complement the Preds up front. They need scoring help, and Fiala should help give them a second line that can contribute regularly. Great pick by Nashville.

Round 2 – Vladislav Kamenev (LW) 42nd overall – He played all except 2 NHL games this year at the AHL level, racking up 51 points in 70 games. He’s adapted exceptionally well to the North American game since coming over from Russia in 2015, totaling 88 points in his first 127 AHL games. He’ll have a good shot at making the NHL club full-time next year, and could work himself into a big role offensively if he continues to improve like he has.

Round 2 – Jack Dougherty (D) 51st overall – Nashville got this pick in a swap of picks from San Jose. Dougherty played his first full year at the AHL level, with 13 points in 75 games. In his final junior year he had 52 points in 68 games. That’s a great number for a d-man, and he should continue to grow as he adapts to playing against men. He sees the ice well, but will need to grow his physical game before he makes the NHL. Luckily for the Preds, they’re built deep on the blueline and won’t need to rush him along.

Round 3 – Justin Kirkland (LW) 62nd overall – Kirkland had a great junior career, but got off to a slow start in the AHL this year. He played in 56 games scoring 21 points, and has shown signs that he will develop more offensively. He is a big kid at 6’3”, but will need to fill out before he can play the same type of dominant game he showed at times in junior. He’s likely a year or two away from making a push to the big league, and 2017-2018 will be a big year for him to show what he can do.

Note: Viktor Arvidsson in the 4th round. Arvidsson is by far their best pick in this draft. A 4th round selection that exploded for 31 goals and 61 points this year, Arvidsson was the Predators goal scoring leader and tied for most points with Johansen. What a steal taken all the way in the 4th round!

2015 NHL Entry Draft

Round 1 – Pick was traded to Toronto for Cody Franson, and Mike Santorelli, while also giving up Brendan Leipsic. This was a poor trade for Nashville, as the pick eventually turned into Travis Konecny, and Leipsic was a force in the AHL this year. Franson played 23 games for Nashville (4 points), and Santorelli played 22 (4 points). All-around, this was a bad trade for Nashville.

Round 2 – Yakov Trenin (C) 55th overall – Trenin finished his junior career this year, with 76 points in 54 games. He played in 5 AHL games to finish the year, scoring 3 points. A big kid at 6’2” and over 200 pounds, next year will be a true test of his talent, as he’ll be playing against stronger opponents than what he saw in junior. He has put up great numbers in junior his whole career, with 195 points in 169 games, so there is a large promise there that he’s a future NHL player.

Round 3 – Tom Novak (C) 85th overall – Novak is just finishing up his University career, with 14 points in 20 games this year for Minnesota. Those are pretty good numbers for college hockey, and he will likely make the jump to pro hockey next season. After next year, the Preds will have a better idea what they have in Novak, but so far he appears to have potential.

Overall, the Predators have done a great job in drafting good players, especially in late rounds. They haven’t missed on many picks, and they’ve built a good foundation of prospects in their system. They’ve built a strong organization, one that should be copied by other teams.

Sources: www.hockeydb.com ; http://www.prosportstransactions.com/hockey/DraftTrades/Years/index.htm

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