The Nashville Predators held the No. 18 pick in the first round of the 2005 entry draft, their lowest since the franchise’s start in the league in 1998. GM David Poile selected seven players, led by defenseman Ryan Parent from the Guelph Storm of the OHL. This draft marked the seventh time in the eight drafts Nashville selected a North American player with their first pick, the exception being Alexander Radulov 15th overall in 2004.
Poile selected four defensemen to add to Nashville’s growing list of defenseman prospects, one center, one right wing and one wing. Three players were drafted out of the OHL including teammates Cal O’Reilly and Scott Todd from the Windsor Spitfires. One player was taken from the WHL, one from Finnish Juniors, one out of the ECAC, and one from Sweden. The Predators drafted four Canadians, one American, one Finn, and one Swede.
Ryan Parent, D – Guelph Storm (OHL)
Round 1 – 18th overall
6’2 183 lbs.
Born: March 17, 1987
Birthplace: Prince Albert, Saskatchewan
Many predicted Nashville would take a wing with their first selection, but with Ryan Parent still on the board, GM David Poile would not pass him up. Born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan and raised in Sioux Lookout, Ontario, the 6’2 183-pounder will need to add more weight, but his role as a defensive defenseman is likely secure in the NHL.
Parent has a nice history of success and leadership. He was captain of Team Ontario that took home the gold medal at the Under 17 tournament in 2003-04 and captain of Team Canada that won the gold medal at the Under 18 championships in August of 2004. He played sparingly as a rookie on the veteran-laden Guelph team that won the OHL title in 2004. He was selected to play for Team OHL in the 2004 Canada-Russia Challenge series and played in the 2005 CHL top Prospects game in Vancouver.
Parent will never be a big scoring defenseman, but he has all the tools to play a long time at the professional level. The fact that he has been chosen captain on several occasions speaks volumes of his leadership potential. He has no major flaws in his game, played in all situations for a rebuilding Guelph team and logged a lot of minutes for them. He should be a top 4 defenseman in the NHL who can play against the top lines of the opposing team and take a regular spot on the penalty kill.
Parent will be re-united with a familiar face in the Nashville organization, defenseman Kevin Klein, whom he played with in Guelph. Parent will return to Guelph for another season before starting his pro career.
Teemu Laakso, D – HIFK Helsinki (Finnish Jr)
Round 3 – 78th overall
6’0 195 lbs.
Born: August 27, 1987
Birthplace: Tuusula, Finland
With their second pick, Nashville selected another defenseman, Teemu Laakso out of Finnish Juniors from HIFK Helsinki. Laakso also played 15 games in the SM-Liiga where he recorded two points, both assists.
Laakso enjoyed a significant breakout in 2003-04. His move from the fringes of the capital city area to the large organization of IFK Helsinki coincided with becoming by far the age group’s best defenseman. As a winner of the 2004 Viking Cup, not to mention a point per game in the U-18 World Championships that year, he became a top prospect in no time. Unfortunately he lost his offseason to injury, which set him back in the first half of 2004-05. The winter was most successful for him. First he was the youngest defenseman to play for Finland in the World Junior Championships in modern times, and after that he played a good while with IFK’s battered pro team. Laakso was down on his luck again as an ankle injury sidelined him for the postseason and rendered him totally ineffective in the 2005 U-18 World Championship.
Six feet and 190 pounds are just enough for Laakso to play the kind of physical defense he likes. On ice his frame looks similar in size to those of players who weigh well over 200 pounds and right now Laakso is far from a strong player, so he has much untapped potential in that area. He is also speedy and skates well in all directions. What he does with the puck isn’t anything fancy, but his hands and hockey sense are easily good enough for an aspiring power play quarterback. He has a good shot from the blueline. With no notable flaws in his game, the biggest question mark surrounding him is being somewhat injury prone.
Cody Franson, D – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Round 3 – 79 overall
6’4 205 lbs.
Born: August 8, 1987
Birthplace: Salmon Arm, British Columbia
With their second consecutive pick in the third round, the Predators decided to bulk up their defense once more selecting Cody Franson from the Vancouver Giants of the WHL. At 6’4 205 pounds, Franson has the height and weight to compete, but needs time to mature mentally and to work on his skills. Franson was named the Most Improved Player by the Vancouver Giants organization for the 2004-05 season.
Franson was coming off his first full season of junior hockey. He had only played a total of five WHL games the past two seasons and three games in the BCHL for the Trail Smoke Eaters. Franson played 64 games for Vancouver in 2004-05 recording 13 points (2 goals, 11 assists). Franson is a disciplined player taking only 44 penalty minutes in those games. He will return to Vancouver next season and most likely spend time in the minors in the upcoming years.
Cal O’Reilly, C – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Round 5 – 150th overall
5’11 180 lbs.
Born: September 30, 1986
Birthplace: Toronto, Ontario
Poile did not pull the trigger on a forward until the Predators fifth round selection, center Cal O’Reilly of the Windsor Spitfires. Ironically, O’Reilly was also taken 150th overall by Windsor in the 2002 OHL draft.
O’Reilly is a work in progress with improvement needed in his skating. Drafted as a center, he is also listed as a left wing on the Windsor roster. Coming off a breakout year, O’Reilly more than tripled his point total last season recording 73 points (23 goals, 50 assists) in 68 games. He is one of the most disciplined players in the OHL taking only 16 penalty minutes last season and only two minutes in 61 games during his rookie season. O’Reilly will return to Windsor next season and should not see action in pro hockey for at least another two years.
For O’Reilly’s own personal journal check out: http://www.windsorspitfires.com/news/journals2005.php
Ryan Maki, RW – Harvard University (ECAC)
Round 6 – 76th overall
6’2 195 lbs.
Born: April 23, 1985
Birthplace: Medford, NJ
The second forward drafted by Nashville was Medford, NJ native and overage player Ryan Maki. The 20-year-old more than doubled his point total during his sophomore season at Harvard.
Maki took on a more significant offensive role for Harvard in 2004-05 and saw not only his ice time increase but his offensive production rise as well. His maturation and developmental progress, particularly in the second half of the season, proved to be highly beneficial to the Crimson’s run to the post-season in just about every facet of the game. Maki missed four games back in November due to a rib injury. He posted 19 points (10 goals, 9 assists) in 30 appearances for Harvard this season and his 10 goals were tied for first on the team.
Maki has excellent size and the potential to become a very good power forward. He is extremely good around the net and is willing to pay the price to score a goal or make the play. Maki uses his large frame very well and can deliver some punishing checks. He plays both ends of the ice quite well, and his defensive game has improved nicely this season. Maki has shown willingness to block shots as well. He is a very good skater with long smooth strides and good acceleration. He also has a great work ethic. While Maki possesses good on-ice vision, he needs to continue improving on his decision-making and ability to read plays.
Scott Todd, D – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Round 7 – 213 overall
6’4 221 lbs.
Born: November 11, 1986
Birthplace: Kingston, Ontario
The Predators sixth choice, defenseman Scott Todd from Windsor of the OHL, has good size as well. Todd was the second player Nashville selected out of Windsor. A teammate of fifth round selection Cal O’Reilly, Todd came to Windsor after playing 10 games for the Oshawa Generals
Todd is an enforcer, taking a total of 155 penalty minutes between Oshawa and Windsor in a total of 55 games. He will have to work on his skating, but a player his size will be given that chance. He will continue his development in Windsor over the next two seasons.
Patric Hornqvist, W – Vasby (Sweden-3)
Round 7 – 230th overall
Born: January 1, 1987
Birthplace: Sollentuna, Sweden
The Predators ended their draft by selecting wing Patric Hornqvist, the only Swede of their day.
Hörnqvist had a good season in the first division in Sweden in 2004-05 and also saw some ice time with the U-18 national team. He’s a small sized winger who is an average skater, lacking agility and foot speed. He has a good nose for the net, is willing to pay the price and goes to the dirty areas to dig for pucks. If Hornqvist can develop his skating, he may have a chance to play pro hockey some day.
Jason Ahrens, Pekka Lampinen, Zoran Manojlovic, D.J. Powers contributed to this report. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.