Nashville Predators Should Entertain Trading Up in First Round of Draft

We’re just a week away from the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft, and the Nashville Predators currently sit at the 17th-overall pick in the first round.

The Predators are in a familiar spot in the first round. A pick that’s not high enough to draft one of the generational talents in the draft class, but still high enough to get a really good player that can eventually make a big impact on the NHL level.

This is considered a wide open first round after getting past the majority choice of Shane Wright at the No.1 overall pick to the Montreal Canadiens. After getting past the No.2 overall pick and the New Jersey Devils, we should be in store for a lot of drama and surprises.

I’m always one for seeing the dramatic trades as teams try to ensure they get the player they want. Even moving up just a couple selections brings plenty of enterainment.

The Nashville Predators are one of those teams that might decide to move up a few spots from the 17th pick of the first round.

The thing I really love about this year’s draft class is the offensive talent at wing and center, something the Nashville Predators need more of in their prospect pool. This is why trading up the first round to nab one of these prospects is an idea to explore.

Who are the Nashville Predators in line to take at 17th Overall Pick?

In the latest mock draft on NHL.com, Mike G. Morreale has the Predators taking a right wing at No.17, and that player is Rutger McGroarty of the USA U-18 team.

McGroarty wouldn’t be a bad pick by any means if the Predators stick around at the 17th-overall pick. However, if they trade up, there’s another player that intrigues me. A player that brings speed to the table, and that’s Matthew Savoie out of the WHL.

Per Dobber Prospects, Savoie carries a 90 percent NHL Certainty rating who brings speed and a high offensive skillset at the center position. He’s a little undersized at 5’9″, but he can make up for that with what he brings with his shooting and raw talent.

Savoie has been mentioned as a possible top-5 pick, but it’s also conceivable he slides out of the top-10, leaving the door open for a team like the Predators to trade up to get him. I don’t think Savoie will slide all the way back to the 17th pick.

Check out Nick Richard’s scouting report on Dobber Prospects regarding Savoie’s offensive skillset:

“Savoie is an electrifying offensive talent who threatens the opposition in a variety of ways. He is a shifty player with great foot speed and strength on his edges, allowing him to maneuver through checks and avoid contact along the boards. His speed keeps opposing defenders on their heels when he attacks off the rush and he utilizes elite puck handling skills to beat opponents in one-on-one situations.”

The Predators would almost certainly have to move up to the top-15 if they want Savoie, who is the 13th-best skater among current prospects on the consensus staff picks by Dobber Prospects. This list includes prospects that were already drafted last year and on NHL rosters, but haven’t played an NHL game yet.

There’s another player that should have every team’s attention regardless of what position they’re looking for, and that’s center Cutter Gauthier. He’s a player that could go in the top-5, so the Predators would have to make a bold trade to get up there.

Gauthier has shot up the draft boards over the past year playing for the U.S. National Development Team and transitioning to a bigger role at center.

The Predators would have to make a huge trade to move a team out of a top draft selection and forego taking the talented Gauthier. However, I think it could pay dividends long-term for what the Predators are trying to do as a team that’s gradually improved their prospect pool, but still needs more offensively gifted weapons. And big centers just aren’t very common like you might think.

According to an NHL scout per The Hockey News, has this to say about Gauthier’s NHL tools:

“Cutter has a pro release and he can really shoot the puck. He’s physical, doesn’t shy away and has a good pro frame. The game is fast now, but you have to be strong at the next level and he’s got a lot of pro tools.”

Sounds like a player that’s very much “pro ready” and not a long-term project.

Other high-end offensive prospects that the Predators could trade up for in the first round are Jonathan Lekkerimaki, Joakim Kemell or Frank Nazar.

The fact of the matter is there are plenty of players in this draft class that have the offensive skillset that the Nashville Predators need to add to their pipeline. Trading up in the first round from the 17th pick should be on the table if they really have a certain player or two in mind they want.

The last few draft classes for the Nashville Predators have brought in some promising prospects, and this year is the draft to be aggressive and move up for a generational type of player. Swing for the fences. Why not?

The 2022 NHL Draft will start July 7 on ESPN. The following rounds will be available on ESPN+