The NHL Entry begins tonight and the Nashville Predators lack picks in the opening rounds. Still, they can find players to contribute to the club.
Now that the NHL Awards are finished, focus turns to offseason moves and additions for each franchise. A few major moves have already transpired. Stanley Cup winning coach Barry Trotz left the Washington Capitals and is now leading the New York Islanders. Forward Mike Hoffman was traded from the Ottawa Senators to the San Jose Sharks, who then sent him to Florida. So far, however, the Nashville Predators have been silent.
The fact remains the Predators’ roster is rather loaded. Many of the players are under contract for several years. If a player is added to the roster, making it to the top forward lines or main defensive pairings would be challenging. It would take a major move for that to happen. What the Predators do need it depth in their system. And there is no better place to start then with the draft.
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However, there is one problem. The Nashville Predators have only five picks this year, and none in the opening two rounds.
Not all bad
The Predators first selection is number 89, followed by 111, 131, 151, and 213. While they are not picking when some of the more elite talent is available, the Predators have great success in later rounds. Viktor Arvidsson was a selected in the fourth round (112) of the 2014 draft. A year earlier, Juuse Saros was selected at number 99. Rinne was an eighth-round selection, and Patric Hornqvist was picked in the seventh round. Value – even elite play – can be found in the later rounds.
Who could the Predators select? The system is already filled with talent at defense with players like Dante Fabbro and Alexandre Carrier. An area of focus could be center.
Jake Wise may be a prudent choice. The 18-year-old center has a solid frame and proven production at the junior level. During the World Junior Championship last season, Wise finished with 5 points in 7 games. Wise finished fifth on the U.S. National U18 Team with 43 points but played in only 38 games, which was 23 less than others above him. The ability for this left-handed player to score is apparent, but will he be available?
Wise was once a top-10 prospect with playmaking ability and a great shot, but is only average on his feet. Can he keep up with faster players and will his body hold up to stronger mean?
Another player to watch is Blade Jenkins. Last season with the Saginaw Spirit, Jenkins obtained 20 goals and 24 assists in 68 games. It certainly appeared to be a breakout season for the 17-year-old center. With a large frame – and room to go – Jenkin’s aggressive play may translate against better competition.
The draft is always unpredictable. No one saw Eeli Tolvanen falling to the Nashville Predators last season, and who knows what will happen this weekend. Still, quality can be obtained.