Predators 2009-10 AHL/ECHL prospects update

By Connor Jennings

The Milwaukee Admirals currently sit in third in the AHL West Division with a record of 16-9-1, despite having an overall goal differential of -3. Ten of the Predators top 20 prospects have spent time with the Admirals, along with eight other prospects.

Colin Wilson, C, 20

The 2008 first-round draft pick (7th overall), began the season with a 10-game stint with the parent club. The Boston University product produced just two points. He did pick up his first NHL goal on October 21st against the reigning Vezina winner Tim Thomas. After sitting out with an extended groin injury, Wilson was then sent down to Milwaukee, and has been slow to start with two goals and two assists in 12 games, while posting a plus/minus of -1. Wilson is likely to return to the parent club at some time during the season.

Chet Pickard, G, 20

The organization’s other first-round draft pick from 2008 is having a strong rookie year in the AHL. While splitting time with Mark Dekanich, the 20-year-old Pickard has put up an 8-5-2 record, with a 2.39 goals against average and a .910 save percentage. Pickard has given up three goals or less in 13 of 15 games, with one shutout. Pickard got off to a rough start this season, giving up seven goals in his first professional game, but he bounced back strong in November, posting a 1.66 GAA with a .942 save percentage. Pickard has yet to win the starting job with the Admirals outright though, putting himself in a position for a call-up, so that will be the next goal for him.

Jon Blum, D, 20

Blum, another first-round pick (2007), is in his first full season at the AHL level. The smooth-skating defenseman has played in all 30 games, scored three goals and added eight assists for 11 points, and is a +6 on the year, good for third on the team. He had been consistent all year long, though he hasn’t scored a goal since October 16th. Blum will likely need another year in the minors, since the 170-pound defender needs to add a significant amount of size and strength to be able to make an impact at the NHL level. He will be 21 in January.

Cal O’Reilly, C, 23

O’Reilly began the 2009-10 season at the NHL level. However, he was sent down after only nine games, scoring just a single assist. After being sent down, O’Reilly immediately began to score at a more than point-per-game clip. He is currently leading the Admirals in points, having scored six goals with 22 assists for 30 points in only 23 games. He is also a +10 on the year, trailing only Peter Olvecky. The play-making center has made trips to Nashville in each of the last two seasons, and should be on the short list of call-ups for the Predators this season. Translating his AHL scoring to the NHL is the hurdle though.

Mark Dekanich, G, 23

Dekanich tore up this AHL in his rookie season last year with a 2.09 GAA and .923 save percentage, but has not been doing as well this year. He was even sent down to the  Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL to get some confidence back, which he should have given his stellar performance there (1 goal in 135 minutes). The Colgate product has an 8-5-2 record with the Admirals, with a 2.75 GAA and a save percentage of .894. He has allowed two or three goals in 11 of 16 games played this year. Dekanich has talent, but just needs to work on consistency.

Nick Spaling, C, 21

After a solid rookie year last year (12 goals, 23 assists), the 2008 second-round draft pick again began his season with Milwaukee. Spaling has played 27 games with the Admirals, posting a lackluster six points and only a single goal. However, the two-way forward was still called up by the Predators, making his debut on December 15. The gritty forward has played in four games since, scoring one point, an assist in his first ever NHL game.

Other top 20 prospects

There have been a few other prospects that have spent time in Milwaukee, but have since been called up to the Predators. Ryan Jones spent 15 games in Milwaukee and 18 in Nashville, posting nearly the exact same stat line in each. The 25-year-old winger has tallied four goals and an assist with both the Admirals and Predators.

Mike Santorelli, 24, spent 21 games with the Predators, posting two goals and one assist, but is now back in Milwaukee. The offensively gifted winger is continuing to score at an incredible rate for the Admirals, netting eight goals and eight assists in only 12 games.

Alexander Sulzer, 25, is also currently in the NHL after spending time with Milwaukee. The all-around defenseman posted 10 points in 10 games with the Admirals. His point production has failed to carry over to the Predators thus far, as he has gotten only a lone assist in his first nine games with the club.

Other notable prospects

Mark Santorelli, 21-year-old brother of prospect Mike, has had a solid year in his second season at the AHL level. The play-making winger has scored four goals to go with four assists in 25 games for the Admirals.

Robert Dietrich, 23, has been scoring very well for a defenseman this season. The German has posted 17 points in 30 games in Milwaukee.

Teemu Laakso, 22, opened the season playing seven games with the Predators, but has since been sent down to Milwaukee. The smooth-skating Finn has had a slow year in terms of point production, posting only two points in 16 games.

Ian McKenzie, 22, has spent 14 games with the Admirals, though he has failed to show the scoring touch he did with Cincinnati. The checking winger has only a single point this season after tallying 12 goals in 40 games last year in the ECHL

Ryan Maki, 24, has scored only a single goal in 17 games this year. He has shown only sporadic flashed of the offensive talent he showed in his rookie year.

Peter Olvecky, 24, has had another solid year as an AHL veteran. Back in the AHL after playing for Minnesota last year, he has showed a decent scoring touch with seven goals and nine assists in 29 games.

Andreas Thuresson, 22, is another skater who began the year with Nashville, scoring two points in his 10 games with the parent club. The physical center has flashed a scoring touch in his second year with the Admirals, scoring six goals and seven assists in only 20 games.

ECHL

The Predators have only a lone prospect currently playing for Cincinnati, Jeremy Smith. The 20-year-old netminder has had a solid rookie season for the Cyclones, playing in 16 games with a 2.55 GAA and a .904 save percentage, adding up to an 8-5-1 record. Smith has had an inconsistent year, posting a shutout in his first start, but giving up four or more goals on four separate occasions this season.

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