Photo: Swedish defenseman Mattias Ekholm, a 2009 fourth-round selection, skated in his first full season of NHL hockey with Nashville in 2013-14 (courtesy of Danny Murphy/Icon SMI)
The Nashville Predators finished 2008-09 in a then-unfamiliar position: within sight of a playoff berth but nonetheless short of the mark.
Photo: Defenseman Seth Jones, on pace to graduate from prospect status before the end of the season, has averaged 20:50 in ice time for the Predators as a rookie (courtesy of Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Nashville Predators system contains some top-end offensive talent while the defensive skill is a bit lacking after Seth Jones.
Photo: After leading the Admirals in points and skating in 16 games with the Predators in 2012-13, Taylor Beck will return to Milwaukee as a featured skater for Milwaukee (courtesy of Danny Murphy/Icon SMI)
Since their inception the Nashville Predators have been built primarily through the draft. A year removed from a season mired by free agency and injury struggles, general manager David Poile had to question the depth of NHL-ready talent in his prospect pool as the season wore down.
Photo: Owner of the fouth overall pick in 2013, Nashville has not made a pick in the first round since selecting Austin Watson 18th overall in 2010 (courtesy of Warren Wimmer/Icon SMI)
After missing out on the playoffs this season, the Nashville Predators are in a precarious situation heading into this weekend’s NHL Draft. General Manager David Poile and the Preds hold the fourth overall pick and with a number of options for picks. Last year the Predators appeared to be a team that could contend for a cup title, but heading into next season, the Predators look like a team in a mini-rebuild. The Preds have only had one general manager in the history of their franchise, and the club is putting their faith in Poile to make the right choice with the highest pick since the franchise's first draft in 1998.
Photo: Swedish forward Filip Forsberg made his NHL debut with Nashville late in 2012-13, less than two weeks after he was acquired from the Washington Capitals (courtesy of Danny Murphy/Icon SMI)
With the hockey season coming to a close, Hockey’s Future has begun awarding our “Prospect Awards” for each franchise. Each team has had its share of standouts, surprises – both good and bad, as well as players who find themselves excelling in a particular facet of the game. While the Nashville Predators do not find themselves in the playoffs this year, they have a crop of prospects that combine skill, speed, and physicality that promises to provide an exciting future for the club.