Predators Report: 2002 Draft Review, Part 2- Vokoun On The Move?

By Brian Roe

Vokoun Gone?

The 2002 Draft came to a close in Toronto on Sunday, with the Nashville Predators selecting seven players on Day 2. The Preds acquired a total of eight players in this year’s draft, but the player who will be most affected by the Nashville draft could possibly be goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

Vokoun, who has been with the Predators since season one, was mentioned in several trade talks with other teams. David Poile was quoted as saying that the Preds also received an offer from an unidentified team for the sixth pick overall. The offer included a NHL player and a later 2002 first round pick for Nashville’s 2002 first round pick. Poile instead decided that Scottie Upshall has more potential, and that was ultimately the deciding factor. So far, then, Petr Sykora is the only actual player that has been moved from the Nashville organization, but there could be more moves in the future.

If you noticed, from the eight players selected by the Predators, two were goalies. In the sixth round, Nashville selected goaltender Mike McKenna from St. Lawrence University. This 19-year old goalie posted a 3.16 goals-against average as a freshmen starter. McKenna is 6-3, 187 pounds and was the 17th-ranked North American goalie in the draft.

Matt Davis was the other ‘tender of the goal’ selected by the Predators on Draft Day. The New Brunswick native is 6-0, 198 pounds and played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season. Davis was the 18th-ranked North American goalie in the draft, with the Predators being very high on his technique.

Not to be suggestive, but outside of Dan Hamhuis and Jordin Tootoo, the Predators deepest position is considered to be goaltender. Mike Dunham and Tomas Vokoun form a very solid pro tandem. Jan Lasak, though streaky, has shown signs of becoming a good goalie. Brian Finley is finally healthy and still has a very high ceiling as far as his potential is concerned. In addition, the Predators still own the rights to Chris Mason and 21-year old Jure Penko.

So, why would a team who lacks depth at the left wing position and on the blueline select two goalies in the Entry Draft? No, it is not uncommon to add a goalie through the draft for depth reasons. Also, if Finley and/or Lasak flop, then some additional resources may be needed. I believe, however, that the selection of McKenna and Davis has deeper meaning, specifically to Tomas Vokoun.

My prediction is that Tomas Vokoun will be the player most likely to be affected by this summer’s events. Vokoun will likely be used as trade bait, and eventually will be traded. As I said before, many teams called and inquired about Vokoun’s availability, with the Preds looking to add some forwards who can put the puck in the net next season. David Poile already said that he would be more involved with trades this summer than in the past.

A more unlikely scenario is that Nashville trades their top netminder, Mike Dunham. Is Vokoun ready to carry a team (especially a team like Nashville) into the playoffs? No, he isn’t. Does Nashville believe Finley will be a franchise goalie in the future? Yes, in fact they still do. Most likely, Vokoun (if anyone) will be moved because Dunham is expected to be between the pipes when Nashville first skates onto playoff ice. If a team completely overwhelms Nashville with an offer, however, Poile may be very tempted to take it.

Draft Recap

1st round – Scottie Upshall, RW

Comment: Nicknamed “Devil Boy” because he plays so much bigger than 5-11, Scottie Upshall is just the kind of player any team would like to have. He can literally do it all. He is a great two-way player that scores timely goals, he is very physical, very fast, and very team oriented. Devil Boy also netted 42 goals and dished 45 assists in 70 games last season with Kamloops of the WHL. Upshall compares himself to another Scott on the team – Scott Hartnell. Scottie Upshall adds to what is becoming a rich foundation of youth for the Nashville Predators organization.

Other Info: 5-11, 176 lbs., 18-years old, Left-handed shot

4th round – Brandon Segal, RW

Comment: Segal was projected to be a 2nd to 3rd round pick, so Nashville quickly jumped on him with their 4th round selection. Segal is a solid all-around player. He has soft hands, reads the ice very well, is a team player, and has good offensive skills (74 points in 64 games with the Calgary Hitmen). Segal could be the steal of the draft for the Predators.

Other Info: 6-3, 195 lbs., 19-years old, Right-handed shot

5th round – Patrick Jarrett, C

Comment: Jarrett was originally touted as a first-round caliber player, but after breaking his leg earlier in the season and having heart surgery last month, his stock quickly dropped. Jarrett had minor heart surgery to correct an irregular heartbeat. He is fully recovered and can begin playing hockey now. Jarrett was a former number 1 overall pick in the OHL draft. He played on a line with top prospect Rick Nash and became known as an offensive force. Jarrett is a player that the Preds took a risk on, but he could end up paying huge dividends in the future. Keep your eye on him.

Other Info: 5-11, 180 lbs., 18-years old, Left-handed shot

6th round – Mike McKenna, G

Comment: McKenna, a student at St. Lawrence University, is planning on returning to school where he will be a second-year starter as a sophomore. McKenna posted a 7-10 record with a 3.16 GAA and a .905 save percentage last season in the ECAC.

Other Info: 6-3, 187 lbs., 19-years old

7th round – Josh Morrow, D

Comment: Josh Morrow was the first of two defensemen taken by the Predators on Sunday. The Edmonton, Alberta native played in the (surprise) Western Hockey League last season. The Predators, who have recently became fond of the WHL, like Morrow’s skating ability and his physical play.

Other Info: 6-1, 203 lbs., 19-years old, 199 PIM last season

8th round – Kaleb Betts, C

Comment: Betts tallied 35 goals and 37 assists last season with Chilliwack of the British Columbia Hockey League. Betts was the 170th-ranked North American prospect according to the league’s Central Scouting Service. Nashville was attracted to his work ethic.

Other Info: 5-10, 185 lbs., 19-years old

9th round – Matt Davis, G

Comment: The Preds acquired some depth at the goalie position with McKenna and Davis. Neither of the two are considered franchise goalies, but neither was Ed Belfour (an undrafted goaltender). Davis is very quick and is technically sound.

Other Info: 5-11, 180 lbs., 18-years old, Catches Left

9th round – Steven Spencer, D

Comment: Spencer posted 226 penalty minutes in 65 games last season for Swift Current of the WHL. Spencer will be an enforcer and a fighter wherever he plays next season. The Preds went with another physical defensemen to close out the 2002 draft.

Other Info: 6-3, 221 lbs., 20-years old