2023 NHL Entry Draft: Looking at the Nashville Predators Draft Strategy

Cody Glass #8 of the Nashville Predators (center) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at Bridgestone Arena on March 26, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. Toronto defeats Nashville 3-2. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
Cody Glass #8 of the Nashville Predators (center) celebrates his goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the third period at Bridgestone Arena on March 26, 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee. Toronto defeats Nashville 3-2. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) /

Incoming General Manager Barry Trotz will have a lot of chips to play as he enters the 2023 NHL Entry Draft as head of the Nashville Predators front office.

The Predators currently hold 13 draft picks, with five of those being acquired this past season in what was an active trade deadline. This gives Trotz and company a lot of leverage and power to maneuver if they see fit.

This draft class is loaded with talent, of course spearheaded by Connor Bedard who is widely-regarded as the best prospect since Connor McDavid in 2015.

After Bedard, the draft class is full of scoring talent both at wing and center. There is an open debate for how the top-ten will be sorted out after Bedard drops off the board at the top.

Draft Lottery will decide 1st Round Draft Order, Where Preds Pick

Bob McKenzie of TSN Hockey just dished out his Top-12 Draft Lottery Rankings, and this is where the Predators could decide to trade up in the first round and claim a player they really want.

This is why many applauded the Predators’ approach at the trade deadline of acquiring draft picks, even though the team was still very much in the running to claim another postseason berth. The long-term picture was in play, and even the short term when you think about these 2023 draft picks.

First we have to wait and see exactly how the draft lottery results pan out, which we’ll know on Monday evening May 8.

The best odds to win the draft lottery belong to the worst regular season team, which was the Anaheim Ducks. They have an 18.5 percent chance to land Bedard, while the Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators finished with the best records to still not make the postseason, so they sit with the slim chances of 0.5 percent.

However, things have changed recently. The Predators are not even eligible to land the top spot even if they do miraculously win the draft lottery. The highest they can jump is 10 spots, or the No.5 pick. Only the 11 worst teams can win the top pick.

So with that said, let’s take a look at some draft scenarios for the Nashville Predators based on where they may end up picking.

Draft Scenarios in the 1st Round for the Nashville Predators

I mean, it’s sports and crazy things happen all of the time. So, if the Nashville Predators were to jump up 10 spots and get the No.5 pick, then they’re going to be sitting in juicy territory for a generational type of talent.

Top Draft Prospects after Bedard, Per DailyFaceoff.com

  1. Adam Fantilli, Center, Univ. of Michigan (NCAA)
  2. Matvei Michkov, Center, Sochi (KHL)

  3. Leo Carlsson, Center/Wing, Orebro (SHL)

  4. Zachary Benson, Center/Wing, Winnipeg (WHL)

  5. Andrew Cristall, Left Wing, Kelowna (WHL)

I’m a firm believer that the Nashville Predators need to make a push to move up if they don’t find themselves picking in the top-five, which is almost a certainty with the lottery odds.

More than likely, the Predators will be picking at No.15, which there will be plenty of highly talented prospects still on the board at that pick. However, it really comes down to if the organization really likes a particular player in the moment and decided to move up. That’s the nice part about having this kind of draft leverage with 13 picks.

You don’t go though that kind of trade deadline as heavy sellers and not try to move up to at least the top-10 of the draft and get the player you really want.

I’m really intrigued by the Predators continuing the trend of adding raw scoring talent to their prospect pool with primarily wingers, or a dynamic center if available. There’s a lot of wingers available throughout the first round.

Zachary Benson really stands out to me as a player you can justify moving up for, and will almost certainly required getting into the top-10 and maybe even the top-five.

A key stat a really like about Benson is sustained success. A lot of film and not just a one-off flare of a season. Only Bedard has more points than Benson in the last three seasons in the WHL.

In this highlight reel video from TC Hockey, you see Benson’s dynamic skating ability and ice vision on full display which is what makes him one of the top prospects in this draft class once you get past the awe of Bedard. He’s a guy you have to make a power move for if you’re the Predators and hope someone is willing to deal and move back.

If the Predators can’t manage to get into the top-5 but want to move up a few spots, perhaps a player that will slip to within reach that fits a need is Oliver Moore of the Team USA U-18 squad. A hard-working center that brings energy and speed to the equation.

"Moore is so quick, brings a high work ethic to every shift and attacks as hard as anyone. His game is all about speed and energy, and he generates a ton of offense on USA’s second line.- Scouting Report from Steven Ellis of Daily Faceoff"

A like the balanced offensive game that Moore brings. Another prospect, among several that the Predators might not be able to resist trading up in the draft for.

This isn’t to overshadow the need to replenish the defensive core in the prospect pool as well. If the Predators decide to stay put at No.15, then they can likely get a really solid defensive prospect like Axel Sandin Pellikka. A right shot defenseman who has valuable experience in the SHL.

The Predators haven’t picked in the top-10 since 2013 when they took Seth Jones, and have only picked in the top-15 three times since 2009, the draft year they selected Ryan Ellis.

This is the year to be aggressive in you draft approach. Take a risk. Get the fanbase excited again. And you’re hosting the draft right at home in Nashville. Let’s party.

More. 2023 Preds Draft Target: Ryan Leonard. light

No draft pick is an exact science and there’s always risks. But this appears to be a really solid and reliable draft class at the top end, and the Nashville Predators need to cash in on some of those trades that dealt the likes of Mattias Ekholm, Tanner Jeannot, Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter.