Photo: Miikka Salomaki brings a blend of size and skill to the Predators organization. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
The Nashville Predators prospect pool continues to be dominated by defensemen with strong upside. Goaltending also, as always, remains a strength, particularly with the additions of Magnus Hellberg and Atte Engren to this list. The forwards, while not exhibiting any elite talent, do showcase a few promising risers, especially Michael Latta, and Craig Smith.
1. (1) Jonathon Blum, D, 8B
Drafted 1st round, 23rd overall, 2007
Charles-Olivier Roussel is currently in his fifth season of QMJHL hockey. (Photo courtesy of Dave Connell/HF)
With Ryan Ellis, Taylor Beck, and Michael Latta transitioning from the OHL to the AHL, the Predators do not have any blue chip prospects in the Junior leagues at this point. However, Austin Watson and Josh Shalla do have some intriguing upside.
Charles-Olivier Roussel, D, Saint John Sea Dogs
Acquired: 2nd round (42nd overall) in 2009
Nashville Predators prospect Ryan Ellis has embarked on his professional career after turning in one of the more decorated junior careers in recent memory.
Ellis spent four seasons with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, a span in which the Spitfires won back-to-back OHL and Memorial Cup championships. Ellis was an integral part of the Spitfires success, as he generated a great deal of offense from the blueline during his 4-year tenure. He finished his junior career with the third-highest point total for a defenseman in the league's history, not to mention a stack of hardware that included being named CHL Player of the Year and Defenseman of the Year, as well as earning the OHL's Most Outstanding Player award and twice being named the OHL's top defenseman.
Ellis also starred in international play for Canada, playing in three consecutive World Junior Championships for that country. He earned one gold and two silver medals at those tournaments, and was named captain of the 2011 squad.
Photo: Selected in the second round of the 2011 NHL Draft, Magnus Hellberg looks to be the next in a long line of talented goaltenders to come out of the Predators organization. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
The Nashville Predators have historically been able to squeeze everything out of every penny they spend. Without the money to bring in a star free agent or the luxury of having a top five draft pick, the organization has prided itself on winning with top-notch, homegrown goaltending and defense.
Photo: Ryan Ellis will have to prove this season he is physically able to handle the rigors of North American professional hockey. (Photo courtesy of Ken McKenna/HF)
The Milwaukee Admirals are clearly the engine that continues to develop solid NHLers for the Nashville Predators. The Admirals were still able to advance to the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs despite starting with only two of their eleven top scorers from the previous season returning to the team for the 2010-11 season. They have an incredible streak starting on January 15, 2011 to present with zero regulation losses on the road. Milwaukee finished in first place of the tough West division of the Western conference while getting their rookies to step up the level of their play, playing solid team defense and receiving excellent goaltending down the stretch.