Nashville Predators Show Mixed Results at Prospect Showcase Weekend

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MAY 27: A fan of the Nashville Predators holds up a sign saying "get play off loud" during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Six of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 27, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - MAY 27: A fan of the Nashville Predators holds up a sign saying "get play off loud" during the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game Six of the First Round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on May 27, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images) /

There’s still one more game left for the Nashville Predators at the prospect showcase in Tampa Bay, but the weekend brought a mixed bag of results.

It was nice to see hockey on the screen again as many of the top prospects for the rebuilding Nashville Predators were on fully display this past weekend against the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers prospects.

There were plenty of goals being scored for both the Predators and their opponents. The end result was two losses, but we did get to see the hype of some of these talented prospects, like Philip Tomasino.

Nashville Predators prospects show flashes

Tomasino got the first goal of the weekend, and then scored again against Florida on a beauty of a shot as there was chaos in front of the net, and he found the loose puck to bury it. The assist went to Egor Afanasyev.

Here’s a look at the goal courtesy of the Nashville Predators social media account:

I was looking for Tomasino to really shine this weekend, and he most certainly delivered. His skating looked smooth, his passes were crisp and he just looked like a leader on the ice in his first action in a Predators uniform against other competition.

Not to be overlooked, Cole Smith also had an impressive first two games of the showcase. He had two goals as well, including one that was an absolute sniper in the first game against Tampa Bay to get the score to 3-2:

Smith got some extensive time with the Chicago Wolves last season with five goals and five assists in 23 games. He also made his NHL debut with the Nashville Predators last season. He’s a player that’s rising up the prospect pool with showings like he had this past weekend.

We can’t overlook the play in net of Devin Cooley in net. In the game against Tampa Bay, before being pulled for Tomas Vomacka, he looked solid and made key saves to keep the score close.

Tell me you haven’t heard that enough on the NHL level with Juuse Saros and Pekka Rinne in the past.

Cooley’s play in both the showcase this past weekend and in the development camp last month has solidified his role in Milwaukee for the upcoming season. He should be the backup to Connor Ingram, setting up a pretty formidable goaltending duo for the Admirals.

Afanasyev looked the part as well this weekend. A big-bodied forward with a strong shot and powerful skating through the zones. I liked what I saw from him in the first two games.

Where the issues arose you can probably see in the final scores. The Predators gave up 13 goals in two games this weekend, including eight goals against the Panthers. A lot of it was the product of breakdowns in the defensive zone and not so much bad goaltending from Cooley or Vomacka.

Defensive woes, learning opportunities

These prospect games are more about development and growth than they are the final scores. Sure, you want to win them because you’re competing, but ultimately this gives coaches a chance to see film in real competition and work on problem areas.

The defense really had its lapses in the two games, as Admirals Head Coach Karl Taylor emphasized, courtesy of the Nashville Predators official website:

“It’s been two days of tough results. We didn’t play very well, and sometimes that’s what happens when you don’t clear the front of your net… We just have to find a way to be a little better in the D-zone, defend it a little quicker, a little stronger and manage the net front better.” Admirals Head Coach Karl Taylor

There’s not really any reason to overthink this or to dwell on it too much. They’re young players who are going to make these kinds of mistakes.

The emphasis will be to hone in on what needs to be improved upon as these prospects go to their respective leagues for the 2021-22 seasons.

David Farrance has the most direct track to the NHL as of right now. His skating, puck handling and zone awareness has him very close to being ready for the NHL on a nightly basis. I can see him realistically getting back into the Predators starting lineup at some point in the upcoming season.

Aside from Farrance, the defensemen who played in the showcase over the weekend have a considerable amount of time left in their development before getting called upon for the NHL. That is assuming a rash of unforeseen injuries don’t occur. Even then, the Predators have plenty of options for the NHL level right now.

What’s next for the prospects

One more game is left in the Prospect Showcase in Tampa Bay as the Predators will face off with the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday. After that, it’ll be time for the NHL preseason, and for many of these players to start prepping for their respective teams.

Tomasino and Farrance are the two participating in the showcase that have decent chances in Predators training camp to make the team. Training camp opens later this month.

The rest of these prospects are really just working on their games and trying to get the most out of this coaching and experience. It’s vital to their development as they head to the AHL, the collegiate ranks or elsewhere.

Next. Top Predators Players Ready for Breakout Seasons in 2021-22. dark

Afanasyev is heading to the Admirals and figures to be a leader for the team. As previously mentioned, he’s had a strong showing through the first two games of the showcase.

Tommy Novak got the captain role this weekend, a big honor from Coach Taylor, and now he’ll get ready for a successful season with the Admirals. He’s another prospect that I can see getting a call-up if the team drastically needs to make changes and things go south quickly.

Preseason is slated to open on September 26 in doubleheader action against the Florida Panthers. We’ll see some of these same prospects in those games.