Predators fall 2007 CHL prospects update

By John Jaeckel

The Predators boast a small, but strong group of prospects playing the CHL, with two players like to be on the 2008 World Junior roster for the U.S., and another invited to the Team Canada selection camp. The club currently has no prospects in the USHL.

Nick Spaling, C, Kitchener Rangers, OHL

Selected, Round 2, 2007

Spaling is off to a hot start for the OHL Midwest Division leading Kitchener Rangers. The 6’1 185-pound center is seventh in OHL scoring with 26 goals and 20 assists in 29 games. Spaling plays in even strength and power-play situations, with Justin Azevedo and Matt Halischuk as linemates. He has also been invited to the selection camp for Team Canada’s entry into the 2008 World Junior tournament.

Jon Blum, D, Vancouver Giants, WHL

Selected, Round 1, 2007

The small, but offensively-gifted Blum has registered seven goals and 27 assists in 32 games with Vancouver this season, making him the top scoring defenseman in the league, and his team’s second leading scorer. He is also +16. He scored the winning shootout goal in a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Chilliwack on Nov. 16. 

An alternate captain for the team, he recently got into a fight with captain Spencer Machacek (ATL) at practice.  No word on what set off the scuffle.

Blum will help anchor a solid defense for the United States in the 2008 World Junior tournament in the Czech Republic.

Jeremy Smith, G, Plymouth Whalers, OHL

Selected, Round 2, 2006

Smith will join Blum on the American entry to the 2008 World Juniors, partaking in goaltending duties with Ohio State netminder Joe Palmer (CHI). He is first in the OHL with a .931 save percentage and fifth in GAA at 2.35. He is 11-4 with two shootout losses, helping lead the Whalers to a close third place in the highly competitive OHL West Division.

Mark Santorelli, LW, Chilliwack Bruins, WHL

Selected, Round 4, 2007

The younger brother of Predator prospect Mike Santorelli, the 6’1 right wing currently leads the WHL in scoring with 17 goals and 39 assists in just 32 games. He is often paired with high-scoring Los Angeles prospect Oscar Moller in both power play and even strength situations. Evan Pighin, 19, is currently the other member of the line.

Burnaby, B.C. native Santorelli is also +11 for the season. He was named WHL player of the week on December 3, and CHL player of the week on December 4.

Viktor Sjodin, LW, Portland Winter Hawks, WHL
Selected, Round 7, 2006

The rugged Swedish winger has had a bad first portion of the season, with four goals and five assists in 23 games, along with 36 penalty minutes. He is -9 for the season. At 5’11, 212 pounds, Sjodin plays a physical game and projects as a possible fourth line player in the NHL.

He recently sat out a two-game suspension for checking from behind, perpetrated on Vancouver Giants defenseman Neil Manning.  He’s also been a healthy scratch at times this year.

Sjodin was not selected for the 2008 Swedish World Junior team.