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.
Photo: Colin Wilson, Nashville's seventh overall selection in 2008, has developed into a key top-nine forward for the Predators. (courtesy of Danny Murphy/Icon SMI)
At the 2008 NHL Draft the Nashville Predators had a rather interesting day, with three of the players they drafted going on to become full time NHL players. Despite having two first round picks, the Predators' greatest success came with first round pick Colin Wilson, second round pick Roman Josi, and seventh round pick Anders Lindback. While some of Nashville’s picks seemed to make sense at the time their fans may be left scratching their heads at most of the middle to late round picks from 2008.
Photo: Finnish defenseman Mattias Ekholm is one of three defensive prospects on the Milwaukee Admirals roster with NHL experience. (courtesy of Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)
The Nashville Predators have traditionally been a team that appears to be both on the verge of a rebuild and getting ready for a championship run. This is mirrored by their AHL and ECHL prospects, who could be considered phenomenal fits for the system run by the Predators but are also a little weaker in terms of talent compared to other teams.