Since it’s an off day for the Nashville Predators and thinking about a 333-to-1 playoff chance would only give me heartburn, why not think a little bit about the NHL draft? More specifically, let’s take a look at four facts about the history of the Nashville Predators in the NHL Draft that you might find surprising.
FOUR NHL DRAFT FACTS ABOUT THE NASHVILLE PREDATORS
David Poile’s first-round defensive picks aren’t as successful as you think.
Of the 13 first-round NHL draft picks in Nashville Predators history, five of them have been used to select defensemen. The first two of those – Dan Hamhuis with the 12th pick overall in 2001 and Ryan Suter with the 7th pick overall in 2003 – went on to become All-Stars. But the others haven’t worked out so well.
Ryan Parent (18th overall, 2005) was a bust, playing just 106 NHL games and none with the Nashville Predators. Jonathon Blum has bounced between the Milwaukee Admirals and the NHL the last three seasons and has struggled more the longer has has played with the Preds. And Ryan Ellis has played limited time with Nashville over the last two seasons, too small a sample to determine if he will make it long-term. That’s not very much first-round success for a team that is known for developing defensemen. With that said…
The best Nashville Predators defensemen are usually chosen later.
Though David Poile’s first-round picks haven’t always panned out, some of his best defensive picks have come later in the draft. Both Kevin Klein and Shea Weber were taken in the second round in 2003, and they’re still here after Ryan Suter bolted for wilder pastures. Weber’s budding Swiss defensive partner Roman Josi was taken in the second round in 2008. Cody Franson, who was traded to Toronto two seasons back, was chosen in the third round in 2005.
One defenseman Poile picked near the end of the draft played more NHL games than all these other later-round blueliners combined entering the 2013 NHL season. Poile chose the late Karlis Skrastins in the ninth round of the 1998 NHL Draft with the 230th overall pick. Skrastins played 832 NHL games for Nashville, Colorado, Florida, and Dallas before signing a contract with Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL for the 2011-12 season.
David Poile’s first-round forward selections are more successful than you think.
It’s probably hard to believe given the reputation the Nashville Predators have for a lack of scoring, but the team has chosen some pretty solid talent in the first round of the NHL draft over the years. Seven of Nashville’s picks have been used on forwards and five of them – David Legwand (2nd overall, 1998), Scott Hartnell (6th, 2000), Scottie Upshall (6th overall, 2002), and Colin Wilson (7th, 2008) – are NHL regulars today. Austin Watson (18th, 2010) just made his NHL debut a few games back, so there’s not enough data to know if he’s a success yet.
The only question mark on Poile’s history of drafting forwards in the first round is Alexander Radulov. He played 154 NHL games in two stints with the team. Nobody in the world doubts the guy’s talent, but it’s likely he is the number-one reason the Nashville Predators are so obsessed with “character” in their draft picks.
Picking goalies in the first round is a bad idea.
The Nashville Predators have selected two goalies with first-round picks in their 15-year history and neither has made an pimact at the NHL level. Goalie Brian Finley was taken sixth overall in 1999, just three picks behind Daniel and Henrik Sedin and ahead of future NHL All-Star skaters like Nick Boynton and Martin Havlat. In 2008 the team chose goalie Chet Pickard with the 18th overall pick, passing over current NHL skaters Luca Sbisa, Michael Del Zotto, and Jordan Eberle. Between them, Pickard and Finley have played exactly two games in net for the Nashville Predators.
The Preds have had much more success developing NHL goalie talent chosen later in the draft. Pekka Rinne was chosen in the eighth round, 258th overall, of the 2004 draft, and Anders Lindback was chosen in the seventh round, 207th overall, in 2008. But in the big scheme of things, the rule is that most of the Nashville Predators’ goalie picks never pan out in the NHL. Of the five goalies who have ever played at least 50 games in net for Nashville, only Pekka Rinne is a homegrown prospect.