Look at this list of players onboarded in the first round over the past ten drafts: the aforementioned Seth Jones and Colin Wilson, Kevin Fiala, Austin Watson, Ryan Ellis, Jonathon Blum, and last year’s Dante Fabbro. First round selections were also traded for Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli, Paul Gaustad, and Mike Fisher.
By no means a bad list of players- but that’s just exactly the makeup of the Nashville Predators. Not bad. It’s no secret that the majority of franchise success has been brought on by a few successful trades (Filip Forsberg, James Neal) and some great products of development beyond the first round (Roman Josi, Shea Weber)-showing that the front office is indeed doing some good work.
GM David Poile has in fact made the Predators a better team than they should be at this point. Despite having traded away some first round picks for players that didn’t quite pan out, this team has performed consistently well despite far-from-ideal drafting positions.
Especially considering the litany of unfortunate events plaguing the history of Smashville’s first rounders. The fire sale of Scott Hartnell and Scottie Upshall, the abandonment of Alexander Radulov, the loss of Ryan Suter. It’s the kind of thing that makes the betrayal of a sure-fire player like Jimmy Vesey (despite not being a first rounder) burn extra hot, because it has impact on a team that has been traditionally talent-starved.
So franchise leadership has kept the Predators afloat and exciting against long odds, but can they become true Cup contenders while maintaining their current trajectory?