All-around defenseman Roman Josi is one of three Nashville blue line prospects with NHL experience in this edition of the Predators' Top 20 ranking. (courtesy of Russell Lansford/Icon SMI)
The Nashville Predators have some bright light defensemen in their pipeline, and several two-way forwards that look like they just came out of the Nashville mold. The top three prospects in the organization are all blueliners with NHL experience, led by the youngest of the three, Ryan Ellis. The remainder of the top ten prospects includes some interesting forwards that run the gamut from a top checking-line, shutdown type in Austin Watson to the pure scorer Pontus Aberg, one of many 2012 draft picks making their debut in the Predators Top 20 this fall.
Photo: Selected in the fourth round, forward Zach Stepan plays a similar style of game as his cousin, New York Rangers forward Derek Stepan. (Ian Altenbaugh/HF)
In many ways, the Nashville Predators 2012 NHL Draft strategy mirrored the one they used for their 2011 draft. As in 2011, the Predators once again focused on forwards and selected only two defensemen and one goalie. The organization also once again selected a handful of overage prospects as well as several who are bound for the NCAA.
Photo: Recently signed to an entry-level contract, goaltender Magnus Hellberg was the Predators first pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. (Brace Hemmelgarn/Icon SMI)
The Nashville Predators do not have a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. That is a result of the trade they made with the Buffalo Sabres for Paul Gaustad at the trade deadline. The Predators did however trade Anders Lindback to the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 15th for two second-rounders. Thus, the Predators first selection in the 2012 Entry Draft will be the 37th overall pick.
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.