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.
Photo: In his rookie professional season, Taylor Beck has gradually developed into a solid offensive contributor at the AHL level. (Photo courtesy of CHL Images)
The Milwaukee Admirals are currently in ninth place of a very crowded Western Conference and are in danger of missing the playoffs this season. One of the biggest contributors to their struggles have been the numerous call-ups to key players, including Ryan Ellis, Jeremy Smith, and Gabriel Bourque.
Victor Bartley, D, 23
The Predators signed the 23-year-old Victor Bartley in May. A former standout in the WHL, Bartley played last season in Sweden's Allsvenskan league where he ranked second among defensemen in points and assists.
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.