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.
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: Finnish defenseman Mikko Vainonen, the Predators' fourth round pick in 2012, is in his first season of North American hockey with the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs. (courtesy of Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
The Nashville Predators have six prospects at the junior level this year; two in the OHL, one in the QMJHL, two in the WHL and one in the USHL. The four forwards are split into two big defensive shutdown checkers and two smaller, feisty offensively skilled playmakers that are led by Nashville's 2012 second round selection Colton Sissons and third round pick Brendan Leipsic.
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.