Predators 2005 draft evaluation

By Connor Jennings

The Predators ended up with just the 18th overall selection in 2005, their lowest in team history. However, Nashville made the most of their seven picks, picking up three NHL players, three potential NHL players, and only one bust.

The Predators’ first-round pick doesn’t play for them, their last-round pick could be one of the best players in the draft, ironically.

Nashville entered this draft attempting to shore up the defense, spending their first three picks on defensemen. Five years later that goal is accomplished, but the 2005 draft also contributed to the 2010 greatest need, offense, by virtue of a Swedish sensation who wasn’t on anyone’s radar going into the draft.

Ryan Parent, D, Guelph (OHL) — 1st round, 18th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 125

Parent should be an NHL defenseman for a very long time. However, he will not be doing it with the Predators. Parent was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers on February 15, 2007, as part of the package deal that brought Peter Forsberg to Nashville as a half-season rental.

Forsberg was acquired in hopes that he could finally propel the team beyond the first round of the playoffs. That dream was dashed when the San Jose Sharks knocked the Predators out of the first round in five games for the second consecutive season.

Parent, on the other hand, has found himself in Philadelphia’s starting lineup, unlike the rest of the trade (Scottie Upshall – now with Phoenix, first round pick (Jon Blum) – reacquired by the Predators for Scott Hartnell and Kimo Timonen).

Parent is a solid NHL defenseman, with good leadership and very few holes in his game. He is a defensive specialist, often compared to players like Robyn Regehr. However, his NHL career has been injury plagued, playing a career high of 48 games this past season.

Parent may not be with the Predators, but credit the front office with hitting on their 2005 first-round pick.

Teemu Laakso, D, HIFK Helsinki (Finland) — 3rd round, 78th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 7

The first of back-to-back third-round selections, Laakso has only had two seasons at the North American level to this point in his career.

Laakso has been injury prone throughout his career, and has unfortunately continued that while in North America, playing only partial seasons with the Admirals the past two years.

Laakso still needs to grow into his frame and add strength. If he does, he can be an effective physical defenseman and power-play quarterback due to his strong point shot.

The 200-pounder is a speedy skater who can be solid in both ends of the ice, though he has yet to show much offensive capability.

Laakso is a solid unheralded prospect, who could find himself as a third-pairing defender and power-play quarterback in the NHL if he reaches his potential.

Cody Franson, D, Vancouver (WHL) — 3rd round, 79th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 65

The first current Predator on the list, Franson is on the cusp of making the team full-time.

The young defender saw his career take off immediately after being drafted, going from 13 points in 2005 to 55 in 2006 in juniors. Franson then spent two full seasons with Milwaukee, posting point totals of 36 and 52 points while being a top-notch defender.

This season he made the jump to the NHL in the wake of Dan Hamhuis’ injury, and spent the majority of the season in Nashville after that. He had an impressive showing on the score sheet, garnering six goals and 21 points in 61 games.

Franson was expected to crack the Predators lineup this season, and he didn’t initially, but when he was called up he quickly established himself as an important member of Nashville’s defense corps.

A player with little weakness, Franson can skate, play solid defense, and is an excellent passer. He also has an underrated point shot, as shown by his good goal totals to this point in his career. He plays a cautious defensive game, with a very good poke check.

Franson can do almost anything required of a blueliner. He was said to have a high ceiling when he was drafted, something he has certainly achieved. He will be a solid starter for years in Nashville, and was a definite steal in the third round.

Cal O’Reilly, C, Windsor (OHL) — 5th round, 150th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 42

O’Reilly should establish himself as an NHL player next season. He has made trips to Nashville in each of the past two seasons, including a 31-game call-up this season.

O’Reilly is a strong leadership type of player that has an insatiable work ethic and never quits on a play. In addition to hard work, O’Reilly has shown the talent to be a playmaking center, scoring at almost a point per game the last three seasons he spent with Milwaukee.

He is a very intelligent player, who could stand to be a bit more physical on the ice. However, he should be a solid point-producing player on the third line in the NHL. He is not the type of player who will ever be seen on the marquee, but he can be a valuable member of a contending team.

O’Reilly may not have the highest ceiling of anyone drafted, but he should become an NHL player, which, in retrospect, is a very good selection in the fifth round.

Ryan Maki, RW, Harvard (ECAC) — 6th round, 176th overall
Status: NHL Prospect
NHL Games Played: 0

Maki is getting a little long in the tooth for a prospect, but he still has some potential in his 6’3 frame.

After being a strong power forward and two-way player at Harvard, Maki has struggled to transition to professional hockey. He had a disappointing season his first year with the Admirals, but followed that up with a very promising campaign in 2008-09. However, his numbers dipped again this past year as he managed just 15 points in 65 games.

Maki is a big body who is known for driving to the net, and finishing his checks with authority. He hasn’t shown much in the way of offensive ability, with low goals totals despite being able to camp in front of the net.

It’s unclear as to why he hasn’t been able to translate his physical game to the pros yet. Not a terrible pick in the sixth round since he still has potential to contribute, time is working against Maki right now. However, if he can’t manage to work his way into Nashville, a degree from Harvard isn’t the worst safety net in the world.

Scott Todd, D, Windsor (OHL) — 7th round, 213th overall
Status: NHL Bust
NHL Games Played: 0

Todd was expected to be an enforcer who could clear the front of the net on defense due to his 6’4, 225 lb size.

He was unable to make an impact at any level, never even able to make it to the AHL or ECHL level. Todd, who was drafted exclusively based on size, showed little in the way of skating ability, defensive ability, or offensive talent.

He spent six seasons in the OHL, scoring only a single goal in that time, and never totaling more than seven points in a season. He also could not avoid penalties, spending 169 minutes in the box in just 47 games during the 2005-06 season.

Having no realistic shot at the NHL, Todd left the OHL and began attending the University of Windsor. He still plays hockey, and has looked better there, but the NHL train left the station long ago.

Patric Hornqvist, RW, Vasby (Sweden-3) — 7th round, 230th overall
Status: NHL Player
NHL Games Played: 110

The last pick of the draft may very well have been the best one for the Predators. Hornqvist was not on many scouts’ radars going into the draft, and even when he was they saw him as nothing more than a high-energy guy.

He was supposed to be an energy and character player, a battler. All words used to describe players we want to be great, but are generally limited by a lack of top-flight talent.

Hornqvist proved all the doubters wrong, as his production skyrocketed after being drafted. He went from seven points in 47 games in 2006 to 23 goals and 34 points in 49 games the next year. Another solid season in Sweden allowed Hornqvist to make the jump to North America. In his first season, he scored 35 points in 49 games for the Admirals, earning him a call up to Nashville. He played 28 games with the Predators, totaling seven points.

This past season, he made the roster out of camp, and subsequently lit the world on fire. Eighty games later, Hornqvist was left standing as one of the best players on the Predators, with 30 goals and 51 points in his first full professional season.

All this and he’s still only 23 years old. Hornqvist joined the 30-goal club in his first full season with Nashville, so the possibilities of what he could do in the future are endless.

Hornqvist is already one of the best players for Nashville, and one of the bright young stars in the league. Not bad for the last pick in the draft. Mr. Irrelevant? Not so.