After taking the draft’s top goaltender in the first round, the Nashville Predators addressed their forwards by taking a crafty right winger in the second round.
There was plenty of action on the part of the Nashville Predators to start the second round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, and when they finally made their next pick it was 18-year-old winger Luke Evangelista.
Evangelista most recently played in the OHL for the London Knights as he was able to rack up at an impressive point-per-game clip, finishing with 61 points. I love this pick for the Predators and think it could be a huge steal when we look back on it in a few years.
When you scan back at previous second-round draft picks from the Predators, ones that turned into high-quality players on the NHL level are few and far between. This round hasn’t treated them very well, with the large exception to Roman Josi.
A hard-working offensive player
At 5’11” and 165 pounds, Evangelista has to grow into his body more before he gets to the NHL level in my opinion. Bulk up a bit as he works his way up the prospect ranks, but I’m excited to see what kind of player he can evolve into for the Predators down the road.
Evangelista is a smart offensive player that gets his teammates involved and does a great job at dissecting defenses. Here’s some of what Elite Prospects had to say about him in their scouting report:
"“He turns would-be shots against into takeaways with decisive challenges. A defensive problem-solver, he diffuses tricky situations with a shocking amount of ease”"
That’s the part of his game that has me intrigued the most. A player that’s gritty and has a nose for stealing the puck and creating takeaways. The Predators lack that right now and need to get back to that culture on their team.
Evangelista comes off as a player that could’ve easily been taken at the back end of the first round, so the fact that he slid to the Predators at 42nd overall is outstanding.
Be sure to check out Evangelista’s highlight film from the OHL, including this clip where he just has a knack for finding high-danger areas of the ice to get good shots on goal:
As we watch Evangelista develop his game in the minor league ranks, I’m fairly confident that he’ll push up the ranks quickly and be bottom-six type of player in two or three years.
This move also replenishes the prospect pool at this key position as the Predators are shifting to a much younger roster in 2021. Forward prospects like Eeli Tolvanen, Rem Pitlick and Philip Tomasino have decent shots at being on the Predators opening night roster next season.
In the 2019 NHL Entry Draft the Predators took winger Egor Afanasyev in the second round, and notable second round picks in Predators history includes Yakov Trenin in 2015, Colton Sissons in 2012 and Roman Josi in 2008.