Top 10 prospects
The Nashville Predators hold the 18th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft.
Nashville’s primary need is for offensively talented forwards. Patric Hornqvist was a nice surprise for the Predators, scoring 30 goals in his first NHL season, but the only other player to break the 20-goal plateau was Martin Erat (21). Though they are talented, some of the team’s top forwards are older, and there are relatively few top-flight forwards on the farm. Some help is on the way in the form of prospects Colin Wilson and Mike Santorelli.
Defense is not a particular need for the Predators, but they could use a few defensive-minded defensemen. The NHL club already has a wealth of impressive young blueliners, in addition to depth in the minor leagues, but none can be considered lockdown defenders.
Goaltender is not a need for Nashville. Both Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis were very good for the club last season. The Predators have at least two other solid goaltending prospects in the system. With the young Rinne and the younger Chet Pickard, the Predators are set between the pipes for a long time.
The Predators from top to bottom are one of the strongest organizations in the NHL. They have quality depth in three particular areas.
First is goaltending. Nashville has two solid goaltenders at the NHL level, an prospects of varying ages and style. Between Rinne, Ellis, Pickard, Mark Dekanich, and Anders Lindback, there is a lot of depth.
Another organizational strength is NHL-caliber defensemen. In addition to the defenders already in Nashville, the Predators have younger guys ready to claim spots of their own. Cody Franson has already staked his claim with the team, and Sulzer and Teemu Laakso spent time with the big club as well. Combine that with top prospect Jon Blum who should push for a job, and the only need for defensemen is to replace players who move up.
A final specific strength is strong character players. The Nashville system is full to the brim with players who give maximum effort. Players like Cal O’Reilly and Nick Spaling, in addition to players already with the parent club, will keep the third and fourth lines among the top of the NHL, especially in terms of effort and leadership.
One almost has to nitpick to come up with weaknesses in the Nashville organization. The most obvious weakness would be top-flight scoring forwards. Players like Wilson, Zach Budish, and Mike Santorelli are promising, but the organization is going to need more. Those particular players are close to the NHL as well, so the minors must be restocked with offensive talent.
Another weakness is a lack of defensive defensemen. the team’s top defensive prospects are all of the puck-moving variety, and they lack a shutdown player at any level in the organization.
The Predators and General Manager David Poile have clearly defined tendencies. They draft heavily from North America, and take a moderate number of Scandinavian players. They tend to avoid Russian players, and will probably continue to do so in the wake of the Alexander Radulov fiasco.
They have also alternated between offense and defense in the first round of every draft since 2000 (save for 2008, when they drafted Pickard). This year they will likely follow their need for offense.
Hockey’s Future staff mock draft result at No. 18: Austin Watson