The Nashville Predators had seven prospects playing junior hockey this year.
Ryan Ellis, D – Windsor Spitfires
Acquired: 1st round, 11th overall, 2009
The reigning Max Kaminsky trophy winner is one of the few Predators prospects who had a down year this past season. Last year Ellis scored an impressive 89 points, with 22 goals, in 57 games en route to winning awards as top defenseman, best offensive defenseman, and smartest player.
This year, however, Ellis put up his lowest point totals ever with 61, but he only played in 48 games due to a wrist injury. That’s a point-per-game decrease from 1.56 to 1.27. But Ellis has been lighting it up in the playoffs so far, with 16 points in eight games as the Spitfires swept in the first two rounds.
Ellis is quite small for a defenseman at only 5’10 and 180 pounds, but he has tremendous offensive ability. If he gains enough strength to be able to survive, he should be able to light the lamp at the NHL level, but will need to be dynamic. Ellis was signed to an entry-level deal already, but it’s either the NHL or junior again for him next year as he missed the birthday cutoff by three days.
Taylor Beck, LW – Guelph Storm
Acquired: 3rd round, 70th overall, 2009
Beck has had an offensive explosion this year, netting 39 goals in 61 games in an impressive 93-point season. This is a vast improvement from seasons past, when he had 21 points as a rookie and 58 points last season.
The Guelph Storm lost in the first round of the playoffs this season 4–1, though Beck scored three goals and six points in the five playoff games.
Beck has shown viable ability as a power forward. He has made huge jumps in his progression the past two years, and has clearly shown he can put the puck in net with the best of them.
Michael Latta, C – Guelph Storm
Acquired: 3rd round, 72nd overall, 2009
Latta has had an exceptional season this year with the Storm, more than doubling his point production from last season, from 14 goals and 36 points in 42 games in 2008-09, to 33 goals and 73 points in 58 games this season. Even though Guelph lost in the first round, Latta was also on fire in the playoffs, scoring nine points in five games for the Storm. He’s shown quite a bit of grit this year as well, with 157 penalty minutes.
Another forward without ideal size, Latta loves to compete for pucks in the corners and in front of the net. He may have to take another small step forward in terms of his progression, but Latta is on his way. He was just signed by Nashville to an entry-level deal.
Charles-Olivier Roussel, D – Shawinigan Cataractes
Acquired: 2nd round, 42nd overall, 2009
Roussel has also shown improvement this season. Last year, he put up 11 goals and 44 points in 68 games with the Cataractes, but lit it up in the postseason, with 18 points in 21 games.
This year, Roussel improved on his regular-season numbers, this time posting 15 goals and 51 points in 64 games with Shawinigan. However, he was not as good in the playoffs, scoring only one point as the Cataractes were eliminated in the first round. None of their players had more than four points in the six-game series.
An impressive all-around defenseman, Roussel can quarterback a power play or shut down an opposing team’s top weapons. Roussel has average size at 6’1, 200 lbs.
Gabriel Bourque, LW – Moncton Wildcats
Acquired: 5th round, 132nd overall, 2009
Bourque was traded mid-season. He hasn’t been able to match his 22 goal, 61-point performance from last year, but he has posted a solid season nonetheless.
Bourque started the season with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, scoring 38 points in 30 games, ahead of his pace from last year. Then he was traded to the Moncton Wildcats and his production fell off a bit, getting only 14 points in 25 games. His totals on the year are 16 goals and 52 points in 55 games.
So far in the playoffs, Bourque has helped carry his team to the semi-final round. He has put up seven goals and nine points in 10 games in the postseason, including a four-goal game to help his team over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
Bourque has continued to be effective this season, even in the wake of being traded. He’s small at 5’9, 180 lbs, so there is some question as to whether of not he would be able to handle the punishment dished out in front of the net at the NHL level.
Nick Oliver, C – Fargo Force
Acquired: 4th round, 110th overall, 2009
Oliver missed the majority of last season with a collarbone injury, playing some for his high school team and 12 games with the Fargo Force.
This year he played in 53 games, and scored just five goals, with 13 assists for the .667 Force. He was 10th in scoring on the team. In the playoffs, he has one goal in three games.
Oliver has good size with a nearly 6’3 frame, and should be able to be a physical presence as he fills out his frame. With a knack for scoring ugly goals in front of the net, Oliver has the tools to become a quality player, it just needs to translate on to the ice. He will attend St. Cloud State.
Cam Reid, C – Westside Warriors
Acquired: 7th round, 192nd overall, 2009
Reid has more than doubled his goal output from last season. Last year he spent time with both the BCHL Victoria Grizzlies and Westside Warriors, combining for 12 goals and 40 points in 58 games between the two teams.
This year his production jumped up to 27 goals and 72 points in 54 games in this, his first full season with the Warriors.
Reid has very good size at 6’3, 197 pounds, but could still stand to add some muscle to his frame. He should be able to put himself on the fast track once he learns to use his size effectively.
Reid is committed to play for St. Cloud State next season.