Predators Report: News and Notes from Music City

By Brian Roe

Shuffling the Deck

The Nashville Predators made several roster changes during the season, but the team also made just as many changes from an organizational standpoint.

Craig Channell, who originally joined the Predators in 1997 as chief amateur scout, resigned last month after being shifted to a position in professional scouting. Channell was instrumental in every draft in Nashville’s five-year history.

Paul Gardner, an assistant coach the past five years for the Predators, was fired after the season’s end. Gardner returned to the team last week as a pro scout, a position he held during his tenure with the Washington Capitals. Gardner’s absence on the coaching staff has created an opening that many are pursuing.

Brent Gilchrist, who played 41 games with Nashville last season, has stated publicly that he is interested in joining the Predators coaching staff. Also, several former players, namely original expansion pick Darren Turcotte, have expressed interest in the coaching vacancy.

The early front-runner for the position, however, is current Milwaukee Admirals coach Peter Horachek. Horachek was successful in his first year with the Admirals, leading Milwaukee to its first playoff series win since 1998.

Many of these changes will likely affect the young Predators prospects, as well as those who will be drafted next month. Paul Fenton, the team’s director of player personnel, will now take a more active role in the drafting process.

Two Predators Prospects Fall Short of Memorial Cup Victory

The championship of Canadian Junior Hockey, the Memorial Cup Tournament, took place this past week in Quebec City, Quebec, with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers winning their first title in 21 years.

Two of the participants in the four-team tournament had a Nashville connection, as Predators prospects Tomas Slovak and Timofei Shishkanov competed for their respective teams.

Slovak, a defenseman for the WHL-champion Kelowna (B.C.) Rockets, has completed a breakthrough season that saw him go from being a marginal prospect, to being one of the top defensive prospects in Nashville’s stable. The native of Slovakia struggled during this tournament, however, registering just one assist, while finishing with a –3 rating.

Quebec Remparts left winger Shishkanov was playing in front of the home crowd, and turned in the more effective performance of the two Nashville hopefuls. The Moscow native was Quebec’s most effective player throughout the tournament, scoring two goals on a team-high 17 shots, and in general looking like the left side scoring threat that the Predators certainly could use.

Report Card for Top 15 Prospects

The grades are in and here’s how the top-15 prospects fared this year for the Nashville Predators. The rules used were that at least two players are in each of the grade sections and no more than four players were allowed per letter grade.

The A Squad

Timofei Shishkanov, LW – Nashville hoping he’s the sniper they’ve never had.

Darren Haydar, RW – The little guy just doesn’t go away.

Tomas Slovak, D – Surprising progress this season, has offensive potential.

Jordin Tootoo, RW – Lacked discipline, but put up great numbers.

The B Team

Scottie Upshall, RW – Rookie outplayed several veteran Predators in October.

Dan Hamhuis, D – Still a year or two away, but he’s special.

Jan Lasak, G – Back and forth between Milwaukee and Nashville, Lasak a quality person and player.

Brandon Segal, RW – Toughness underrated. Topped 100 PIM for third consecutive season.

The C’s

Oliver Setzinger, C – Nashville’s first Austrian-born draftee is only 19.

Patrick Jarrett, C – Let the two-way players reign supreme.

Matt Koalska, C – Only five goals in 23 games.

Doh! The D’s

Libor Pivko, LW – Needs to hit the weight room.

Brian Finley, G – Injuries put him here. When he played, he was good.

Big Fat F

Jonas Andersson, RW – Speed? Check. Size? Check. Offense ???

Daniel Widing, RW – Where did this guy go?

Did You Know?

Robert Schnabel is the tallest Predator prospect standing six foot, five inches high.