A Look Back at the History of Nashville Predators Picking in the Top-10

In the 24 full seasons that the Predators have been in the NHL, shockingly they have rarely picked in the top-10 of the NHL Entry Draft.

2008 NHL Entry Draft, Round One
2008 NHL Entry Draft, Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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I have to admit, I was rather surprised to see that the Nashville Predators have selected in the top-10 of the NHL Entry Draft so few times in their history considering they have just one Stanley Cup Final and Western Conference Finals appearance.

Then you realize that starting in 2003-2004, the Predators franchise became a perennial regular season team that playoff contender. Only a couple times since have they been among the NHL's worst teams.

Looking now to current times, the Predators are following that same trend of being on the fringes of playoff contention and in that perpetual state of average.

Barring some sort of crazy trade, one that could involve Juuse Saros, then it looks like the Predators will yet again pick somewhere in the middle of the first round. They do currently have three picks in the second round that could end up boosting trade possibilities to move up, but we're getting way ahead of ourselves.

The History of Top-10 Draft Picks for the Nashville Predators

David Legwand
David Legwand / Rick Stewart/GettyImages

In the early expansion days of the Nashville Predators franchise they were of course an annual lottery team. Five of their first six drafts they selected in the top-10, but unfortunately they didn't hit home runs on all of them. In fact, they missed badly on two of them, and while David Legwand and Scott Hartnell went on to be great players for the franchise, they never became elite NHL superstars.

Legwand had an NHL career of longevity and consistency which allowed him to sit atop the franchise record books in a lot of key categories before Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg came along. So it isn't fair to call that a bad pick, especially considering when you look over that draft class which was nothing special, aside from Pavel Datsyuk going in the sixth round to the Red Wings.

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On the other hand, Legwand is seventh in points among that draft class, finishing with a NHL career total of 618 points. Not too shabby at all.

Then we go to the 1999 Entry Draft, and make sure you have something sturdy to hold onto before I remind you of this swing and a miss for the Predators. They selected goalie Brian Finley he went on to only appear in four NHL games.

Again, to be fair, it was another less than stellar draft class overall. Once the Predators selected at sixth overall, the two best players were already taken in Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin. And at least the Predators made up for it much later by taking Martin Erat in the seventh round.

The Predators would take Hartnell at sixth overall in 2000, Scottie Upshall at sixth overall in 2002 and Ryan Suter at seventh overall in 2003. Since then, the Predators have only selected in the top-10 twice (Colin Wilson and Seth Jones).

To Really Fuel a True Rebuild, the Preds Need Higher Draft Picks?

The prevailing notion is the Predators have to fully commit to a rebuild, and they means trading away anyone they can to acquire higher draft picks. Be really bad for a few years, get some lottery picks and hopefully select some generational talents along the way.

Here's my problem with this strategy; drafting is nowhere near a perfect science, especially in the hockey world when you have such a large pool of prospects all over the world to choose from.

Sure, occasionally some ridiculously top heavy draft classes come along, like in 2023. But even then, you can still miss badly on one or two of those and then you're double screwed because you traded away all your star players and drafted a couple busts. Now suddenly you're in the NHL's basement for years to come ( see San Jose, Ottawa, Arizona, Buffalo).

The way the Predators can get back into a top-10 pick is by pulling off a gutsy trade, and that's why so many are adamant on trading Saros and acquiring more assets in return. Then you can hopefully have enough to work yourself into a top-10 pick with a draft day trade, which I had my fingers crossed they would pull off at the 2023 draft.

With the Predators currently on a six-game win streak, the pressure is really on Trotz now on what do at the trade deadline. Does he stick to his guns and sell or is he now convinced to keep this thing moving forward for the 2024 playoffs and deal with the consequences in the offseason?

Next. Preds. Preds Trade Deadline: Novak, Carrier, Saros. dark

Just look at some of the best draft picks in Predators history; many of them have become after the first round and even late in the draft with picks like Erat, Pekka Rinne, Juuse Saros, Patric Hornqvist, Mattias Ekholm, Viktor Arvidsson and Roman Josi. None of these franchise great players were selected in the first round.

We'll have to see what kind of draft picks Trotz acquires in trades at this year's deadline, and if he sells heavy, then expect the Predators to add onto their already 11 picks they have in 2024.