Photo: Chase Balisy is coming off a strong season with Western Michigan, where he managed 13 goals and 24 assists in 41 games. (Patrick S Blood/Icon SMI)
At the trade deadline, the Nashville Predators traded away their first round pick in 2012 as well as their second round picks in 2012 and 2013. While it may seem like they gave up a lot of future assets, they did so with the knowledge that many of their top prospects are gradually meeting their potential. The inaugural edition of the HF Prospect Awards is a testament to this notion as many of the recipients have seen time this season in the NHL.
Photo: Forward John Huberdeau is the top prospect for the Florida Panthers and one of the top forwards not currently playing hockey at the professional level. (Cliff Welch/Icon SMI)
Below is the final part of Hockey's Future's 2012 Spring Organizational Rankings. The rankings were determined by taking each NHL team's entire prospect pool into consideration as well as the likelihood those prospects are to meet their maximum potential. For reference, each team's top five prospects are included, as well as the players they have graduated, traded, or added to their pool over the 2011-12 season. To be eligible, a player must meet HF's prospect criteria. The rankings are done twice each season, in the fall and spring.
Photo: Zach Budish is one of several prospects the Predators have in the NCAA who could develop into a solid top-nine forward. (Photo courtesy of Josh Holmberg/Icon SMI)
The Predators may not have any blue chip prospects in Europe or the NCAA. However, there are a few project prospects with intriguing upside. In the SEL, Magnus Hellberg has the size and raw talent but is still very young and inconsistent. Making a name for himself as a physical force in the SM-liiga, Miikka Salomaki also has a finesse side to his game that is just starting to percolate to the surface. Zach Budish of the WCHA has a very diverse skill set and if he stays healthy, his ceiling is higher than his statistics may show. Chase Balisy of the CCHA is turning into a true leader who makes his teammates better. The Hockey East defense duo of Garrett Noonan and Anthony Bitetto are two lesser known names to keep an eye on.
Photo: Slick defenseman Ryan Ellis has spent his rookie season between the AHL and NHL. In 32 NHL games Ellis managed three goals and eight assists. (Photo courtesy of Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)
The Nashville Predators prospect pool has experienced a number of major changes in a short period of time. On February 17th, Blake Geoffrion (MON) and Robert Slaney (MON) were traded to the Montreal Canadiens in a deal that brought back Hal Gill. Craig Smith, who was previously ranked fifth on this list, graduated. Forwards Josh Shalla and Juuso Puustonen enter the top 20 as two dark horse weapons that could boost the Predators attack in the future. Finally, it is Ryan Ellis who takes the number one spot away from Jonathon Blum.
Photo: Jeremy Smith was one of two goaltenders selected by the Predators in the 2007 draft. Now in his third professional season, Smith has been one of the top netminders in the AHL. (Photo courtesy of Holly Gunning/HF)
The 2007 NHL Draft is shaping up to be a top heavy draft for the Nashville Predators. Their first three selections, Jonathon Blum, Jeremy Smith, and Nick Spaling, all have a strong chance of making the NHL full-time. However, the future of the other six Predators selections from that year is less clear.