The most intriguing of all prospects is Vladislav Kamenev. The Nashville Predators have long been considered as one of the top defensive teams in the league. Former bench manager, Barry Trotz instilled that philosophy from day one of the franchise. Defencemen have been a heavy focus for the Nashville Predators in the draft as well. Just take a look at some of the names I listed earlier in this post. On top of those names, add Dan Hamhuis, Seth Jones, Cody Franson, and Kevin Klein. That’s a very solid pedigree for drafting defencemen. However, we are in a different kind of league now. It’s all about offense, speed, and penalties providing more offense.
In order to contend for the Stanley Cup, a team needs not only a solid defense, but at least three forward lines that can score. The Nashville Predators have done a great job improving their offense over the last few seasons under the new full-attack philosophy of Head Coach Peter Laviolette. David Poile has also made every possible move he could make to bring in offense without giving away the franchise’s future. The result: the Nashville Predators have one of the top 10 forward groups in the league to go along with arguably the best defensive unit.
Vladislav Kamenev is a true center. He has a pass-first mentality, dominates the faceoff circle, and plays a full 200 ft. game. After he grows into his body a little bit more (6’2” and weighs roughly 200 lbs.), he will be very similar to Ryan Johansen (6’3” 218 lbs.). Imagine having two Ryan Johansen’s! Now, of course, we are assuming Kamenev really excels in his development. But, that comparison is not that crazy to think of. Kamenev was the second leading scorer for the Milwaukee Admirals last season with 21 G and 51 P, trailing only Pontus Aberg. That is very good production out of a second-year player.
Kamenev has had a solid preseason for the Predators. He seems to be a player the coaches are trying to take a serious look at. Kamenev is fourth on the team in minutes played this preseason. He has lead the team in Faceoff wins and percentage among all centers. He is also second on the team in assists (2) and third in both shots (9) and takeaways (2).
The biggest stat, and probably most surprising, is he has taken only one penalty. He has been known for having somewhat of a temper at times. However, he has shown he has matured greatly by only taking one this whole preseason. To be fair, that one penalty was slashing Victor Hedman after getting ran over by him and then given an extra shove by Hedman as to say, “and stay down!” Other than that, nothing. Not even a single one of those weak slashing calls the refs have been making all pre-season.
That is great news. That means not only can he handle himself on the ice, but he has also been in the correct spots. Most of the slashing penalties called this preseason stem from defenders getting caught flat-footed, and as the skater starts to blow by, throw their stick out as a last defense. Kamenev has clearly been alert on the ice without the puck and has found a way to stay in front of his man.
The Nashville Predators have the best forward group they have ever had. Currently, Nick Bonino seems to not be ready to start the season. That would leave some space for Kamenev to get some chances early. If Kamenev can grab a full-time roster spot on the fourth line, the Predators would have four lines that could all produce offensively. That is dangerous in today’s game.