Nashville Predators Clash with Lightning Prospects to Start Showcase

Apr 27, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators players take the ice before the game against the Florida Panthers at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 27, 2021; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators players take the ice before the game against the Florida Panthers at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

It’s finally here. We actually have gameday hockey for the Nashville Predators as their quickly rising prospects pool will face off against the Tampa Bay Lightning prospects later today.

In what will be a three-day event where the prospects take center stage, the Nashville Predators will get to see just how their prospects are fairing against three quality opponents this weekend. The Lightning are of course the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.

More so than some other teams, like the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Predators are feeling like the future is now as they have seen their veteran core broken up. The terms rebuild is finally being thrown around regularly in Nashville, but there are still reasons to be encouraged about this upcoming season.

This is an important weekend for these respective prospects on both sides, but for the Predators’ prospects, it means showing a rebuilding franchise that they’re next up in trying to get this thing turned around in the coming seasons.

The Nashville Predators prospects are rising up

The Predators have an impressive rookie camp roster that will be competing this weekend, and it’ll open up against the Lightning. According to a list put out by The Hockey Writers, the Predators have the 16th-ranked prospect pool, while the Lightning are at No.24.

A lot of attention will be focused on what Philip Tomasino can do this weekend as he’s seen as the prospect in camp with the highest NHL potential, and the closest to getting a starting role as soon as the season-opener.

Check out what Tomasino had to say after the opening of rookie camp practices in Nashville before heading to Tampa Bay, per the Nashville Predators team website:

On the defensive side, David Farrance is also in that same bright spotlight as Tomasino is. Look for him to have a strong weekend and show coaches he’s above the rest in terms of being ready for the NHL.

Finnish prospect Juuso Pärssinen, a centerman that’s showing a lot of promise, has made the trip over from playing in Finland’s Liiga to participate in the showcase. I except him to make his presence known and be a top performer.

When it comes to goaltenders, I’m looking for both Devin Cooley and Tomas Vomacka to look sturdy in net and not give up too many weak goals. There’s an opening in the AHL for the Milwaukee Admirals behind starter Connor Ingram, so let’s see who plays better in between the pipes this weekend.

A quick look at the Tampa Bay prospects

Tampa Bay’s prospect pool doesn’t really leap out at you on paper, which you would expect considering the roster they’ve built on the NHL level. You have to give up valuable pieces many times to stack your roster.

However, they do have some intriguing prospects to watch in this first game against the Predators. One that stands out to me is their goaltender Hugo Alnefelt, who was drafted in 2019 and has spent all of his developing overseas in Sweden. Now he’s coming stateside to compete in the AHL, and eventually make the jump to be Andrei Vasilevskiy’s backup, you would assume.

Dylan Duke is a fun prospect to keep an eye on for Tampa Bay. A 4th-round pick in this year’s draft, he’s heading to the NCAA powerhouse University of Michigan to begin his collegiate career, but until then he’ll get a small taste of what’s to hopefully come in the NHL for him.

Jack Finley is another prospect that stands out when looking at Tampa Bay’s prospect pool. He’s just 19-years-old and is looking to make the next jump in his development this season in the AHL.

I’m not going to be entirely focused on the scoreboard in these games and more interested to see positive reports from coaches on key prospects like Tomasino, Farrance, Pärssinen and Egor Afanasyev looking comfortable and playing smart hockey.

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Additionally, I’m looking to see a couple other lesser known prospects seize the opportunity this weekend to gain some attention and elevate their stocks. Should be a fun weekend of hockey from these hungry prospects looking to build on their dream of getting to the NHL.

And, of course, how could I leave out the fiery competitor that is Zachary L’Heureux? He’s already become a fan-favorite without logging a single NHL minute yet. Look for him to show off his aggressive style of play in this showcase.

Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning prospects is scheduled for 1 PM CDT in Tampa Bay.