The results of Phase Two of the NHL Draft Lottery left the Nashville Predators with the 11th pick of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, their highest pick since 2014.
Everyone wanted the top overall pick and the chance to pick the Canadian phenom of Alexis Lafreniere, but the Nashville Predators will have to settle with selecting outside the top-10.
The Predators have the 11th overall pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, which will occur at some point in October after the Stanley Cup champion is crowned. It’s their highest pick since taking Kevin Fiala with the 11th-overall pick in 2014.
Historically speaking, the Predators have a pretty good track record with their picks in the top half of the first round. They’ve taken franchise players such as Seth Jones in 2013, Ryan Ellis in 2009, Colin Wilson in 2008 and Ryan Suter in 2003.
The Predators are trying to avoid a long rebuild, but are almost certainly facing an offseason to which they’ll have to make some serious roster changes. They have to start replenishing their prospect pool if they’re going to call up some new talent.
Let’s take a look at some prospects that the Predators and GM David Poile can target with their current draft position in the first round.
This is the biggest weakness the Predators have in terms of prospects at the moment. I’m not confident in what I’m seeing in the current prospect pool aside from a few that are ready to be called up now, like Eeli Tolvanen.
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There will be plenty of options for the Predators to target in terms of wingers who have a knack for finding the back of the net and generating havoc in front of the goaltender.
With the Predators getting eliminated sooner than I originally planned when I last did a mock draft, there are now some much better prospects to consider. It’s the only caveat to failing to even get out of the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.
Dawson Mercer is a grind-it-out type of player that forechecks hard while not sacrificing his offensive game.
I wrote about the chances that the Predators will take him back in June, and now it appears they have a great shot at getting him with the 11th pick.
What’s really intriguing about Mercer is he isn’t a one-dimensional player. He does many important things well, like killing penalties and providing a defensive presence from the forward position.
With the Predators being much higher in the draft order than I first expected, Mercer is a top target for sure and would make total sense here.
Jack Quinn is another interesting offensive playmaker that the Predators might suddenly have a shot at getting. We haven’t really covered Quinn going to the Predators because honestly I didn’t think the Predators would be in position to get him, but here we are.
Quinn is a prototypical offensive player that can control possession, generate offense all on his own and finish on a regular basis. He doesn’t have great size for the NHL level, so you have to hope that he continues to bulk up and develop the physical part of his game.
If it comes down to a choice between Quinn or Mercer, the Predators need to go Mercer as the more physical and well-rounded player. But both should be targets for the Predators that fill the team’s biggest need.
Finally, Seth Jarvis was my mock draft pick for the Predators back a couple months ago, but my selection was much further back into the first round.
Jarvis is a sniper who has all of the tools both offensively and defensively to get to the NHL quickly. He’s most recently played in the WHL for the Portland Winterhawks and can play both winger or center.
When I took Jarvis at 17th overall in my mock draft back in June, I had him as a steal at that position. At the 11th pick, he’d still be a solid pick if Mercer or Quinn is off the board.
Do they go defense?
Another route to go is to try to snag another defenseman that’s close to being ready for NHL minutes in the near future. The Predators need help defensively in terms of depth behind Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis, so getting a top defensive prospect might be the way to go now that they’re picking so high.
There’s only one defenseman I can see the Predators going for at the 11th pick over taking a winger or center. That player is Kaiden Guhle, who is regarded as a two-way defenseman per Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com.
I’m not in love with the idea of taking a defenseman in the first round for the Predators, but I can live with them if it’s Guhle. The reason being is his physical size and roughness matches well with a laser of a shot to become a balanced defensive player in the next two or three years.
If the Predators go defense at the 11th pick, Guhle should be around for the taking. He had 40 points in the WHL for Prince Albert, including 11 goals.
There’s enough offensive production to see some promise that he can continue to develop his shot into that of a Mattias Ekholm, who also has a nasty side to him but can find the back of the net when the opportunity is there for the taking.
Poile can’t mess this pick up. He’s in a good spot to find a prospect who can make a really big impact in the near future if he chooses wisely. The prospect pool is nothing to write home about with the exception of a few. It needs a strong 2020 draft class.
Final Mock Draft Prediction: Kaiden Guhle, D, WHL
I want the Predators to go offense and goal scoring with their 11th pick, but I’m afraid they’re going to go the defensive route and take Guhle. Not a terrible pick, but one I will disagree with if I’m right.