Predators: Cloning the Dallas Stars
He had the smile of an eighteen-year old kid…partly because he had just been selected number two overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft…and party because he was eighteen years old. David Legwand…the first draft selection in Nashville Predators history. Legwand automatically became the “cornerstone of the Nashville franchise for years to come.” His blazing speed and lightning quick hands landed him a spot on the Nashville pro roster less than a year after he was drafted.
He was called the “best goaltender in the world for his age.” He was one of only a handful of goaltenders to be selected in the top ten in the history of the NHL Entry Draft. Brian Finley…chosen sixth overall in the 1999 Entry Draft. One year and an OHL MVP later, Finley is the future number one butterfly goalie for the Preds.
Now think, how many big time free agents have the Predators signed in their history? How many blockbuster trades have the Preds been a part of? If you answered zero to both of those questions, then you are correct. The Predators are using a very painstaking system of building their team into playoff contenders. However, they are using a system that has been used before.
Derian Hatcher, Mike Modano, Jere Lehtinen, Richard Matvichuk, Roman Lyashenko, Jon Sim, Brad Lukowich, Jamie Langebrunner and Brenden Morrow were all original draft picks of the Dallas Stars. Coincidentally, all nine of those players are on the active playoff roster and will be participating in the Stanley Cup finals this week.
There are other aspects of the Predators that were not home-grown ideas. Take head coach Barry Trotz for example. Trotz had successfully coached several years of minor league hockey, using the “defense first” system, before he became coach of the Predators . Now, if you remember correctly Ken Hitchcock was also a very successful minor league coach. And if I am not mistaken, he is also very much defensive minded. The Preds play a very physical style, and have a roster filled with skilled, speedy skaters. The Dallas Stars made it all the way to the Stanley Cup using the same physical style of hockey.
Now, do not get me wrong, I am not making a prediction that next season the Preds will find themselves in Stanley Cup range. This process involves alot of patience and alot of good scouts to draft quality players who will stick around. The Predators have both of those qualifications within their organization. GM David Poile has already stated that the Preds are going to be patient with their young players, and we have all seen from the previous two drafts that the Preds have some of the best scouts in the NHL. So now it is a matter of waiting. Waiting on David Legwand to bloom into a superstar foward. Waiting on Brian Finley to become the number one goalie that everyone knows he will be. Waiting on the Predators to put it all together, just like that team in the Lone-Star state.