With just two weeks left before the 2019 NHL Draft, we take a look at potential prospects that the Nashville Predators might draft at #24 in the first round.
We are just two weeks away from the start of the 2019 NHL Draft in Vancouver, scouts are doing their final evaluations for the draft class. The NHL Draft is always sort of a crapshoot after the first few picks, which is why there are so many projections about who the Nashville Predators will take in the 1st round at #24.
However, according to NHL.com, their latest mock draft has the Predators taking Egor Afanasyev at #24. Afanasyev is an 18-year old, 6’4 200 lb center from Russia, who has spent the last two seasons in the USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks. Oddly enough, the Predators drafted another massive center from the Lumberjacks last year, in Jachym Kondelik, who stands at 6’6.
This past season, Afanasyev really burst onto the scene, tallying 27 goals and 35 assists in 58 games, and a +24 rating. In the USHL playoffs, he kept the ball rolling, with 2 goals and 4 assists in 8 games. He averaged more than a point per game, and nearly 4 shots as well. He is an offensive-minded center who flat out produces.
His play in his second season in the USHL earned him the ranking of 16th best North American skater in the draft, according to NHL Central Scouting.
His Play Style
NHL.com calls Afanasyev a “burgeoning power forward with a hard, heavy shot he’s able to get off from anywhere in the offensive zone”.
The Russian is a balanced, powerful skater who can fight through contact and cause traffic in front of the net. He isn’t the fastest skater, but he accelerates well and has good top-end speed that allows him to keep up with the game with ease.
Egor’s playmaking ability is what sets him apart from the field though, and it’s why he was able to break out during last season. He controls the puck very well with his big body, and has excellent vision, especially around the net. He has a quick, powerful wrist shot, along with a very good slap shot.
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Afanasyev is a big player, but he doesn’t use his body as much as you would expect. Instead, he wisely uses his body for positioning, by taking away shooting lanes and disrupting passes and breakouts tries.
The only side of Egor that scouts don’t love is his defense. He plays up top more than he should and doesn’t always keep his feet moving. With that, he allows himself to fall out of position, which opens up windows in the zone.
Comparison and Prediction
Disclaimer…I have not seen this kid play. I know, shocking.
But to me, Afanasyev looks and sounds a whole lot like Brian Boyle. They’re both big tough centers with powerful shots. They aren’t the quickest skaters, but once they are moving, they skate well. They both are excellent in front of the net and are great at creating plays in the offensive zone. His hands are better than Boyle’s, as he is able to dance around opponents much more frequently than Boyle, due to better edge work and agility.
Boyle is more of a straight-line skater, while Egor has far better ability in smaller windows.
Afanasyev’s big weakness is his defense. Sometimes he looks lost on defense, as he tries to move around the zone as a center should do. The big body is only as good as where it is positioned.
Scouts love Egor’s potential, as a big, skilled forward is often hard to come by. With good coaching, he can work on his speed and defense, which will bode well for his NHL future.
What You Need to Know
With their first-round pick, the Predators need to capitalize. They draft at #24 in the 1st round, but then not again until #75 in the 3rd round. The team’s 2nd round pick belongs to New Jersey, after the Brian Boyle trade.
With that gap between picks, David Poile needs to make this first round pick count. Especially considering that the team didn’t draft until the 4th round in 2018.
GM Poile does have 7 picks in this year’s draft, but that first one is very crucial, due to that 51-pick gap.
What: 2019 NHL Draft
When: June 21-22 (Friday-Saturday)
Where: Vancouver, BC
How to Watch: NBC Sports Network