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: Detroit’s signing of Western Michigan defenseman Dan DeKeyser has improved the team’s breakout and transition game (courtesy of Steven King/Icon SMI)
Below is the middle section of the Hockey's Future Spring NHL Team Rankings, the staff's ranking of each NHL team's system based on the strength of the entire prospect pool. For reference, just the top five prospects are listed. To be eligible, a prospect must meet HF's prospect criteria. The ranking is done twice a year, with this edition being an update to the Fall ranking.
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.