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: Miikka Salomäki ranked fourth on Team Finland in points at the WJC before finishing his third pro season with Kärpät in the SM-liiga (courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The Nashville Predators have a lot of youth in various European leagues as well as the NCAA right now. Out of their 13 prospects that play either overseas or in the NCAA, eight of them have been drafted in the past two entry drafts. The presence of players like Jimmy Vesey (Harvard, ECAC) and Pontus Åberg (Djurgårdens, Hockey Allsvenskan) suggests high offensive capability down the road for the Predators; however, true to Nashville tradition their prospects are predominately two-way players, and there are no better examples of this than Kärpät Oulu’s Miikka Salomäki and Minnesota Golden Gophers’ captain Zach Budish.
Photo: Defenseman Ryan Ellis is part of a young group of Nashville blueliners trying to help the team recover from the loss of Ryan Suter. (courtesy of Danny Murphy/Icon SMI)
The Nashville Predators have been one of the most consistent teams over the last five years in terms of style of play. Barry Trotz and David Poile always put a team on the ice that has a defense-first mentality, and the system that the Milwaukee Admirals employ develops players that fit this mold perfectly. Homegrown players like Jonathon Blum, Roman Josi, and Gabriel Bourque have successfully made the transition from prospect to full time NHL player, and there are other players, such as Ryan Ellis, that are looking to make that jump soon as well.
Photo: Jonathon Blum is one of three top defensive prospects on the verge of cracking the Predators roster when the NHL resumes play. (courtesy of Danny Murphy/Icon SMI)
The Nashville Predators have a solid talent pool with good depth and plenty of two-way prospects but the organization is severely missing the high end talent at the forward position.