Predators CHL 2008-09 prospects update

By John Jaeckel

What the Predators lack in terms of the quantity of prospects they have in the major Canadian junior leagues, they more than compensate for in terms of quality. Of the Preds’ three CHL prospects, two are first-round selections, and the other one is a former second -round selection.

Chet Pickard, G — Tri-City Americans (WHL)

1st round, 18th overall, 2008

In Pickard’s fourth season with Tri-City, it is difficult to believe that he only turns 19 on Nov. 29. The rangy netminder led an extended run for the Americans in last year’s Chynoweth Cup playoffs. In 16 contests, he was 11-3-2 with three shutouts. He has essentially picked up this season where he left off last year, helping lead the Americans to a 16-7 record and second place in the U.S. Division of the Western Conference of the WHL. In 22 games, he is 13-7-2, with a GAA of 2.79, a .903 save percentage and two shutouts. On Nov. 22, The Winnipeg, MB native became the all-time winningest goalie in Tri-City history with his 84th career victory. The goaltending gene runs strong in the Pickard family, as Chet’s younger brother Calvin minds the net for Seattle in he WHL. Earlier this year, Chet’s Americans prevailed 6-4 over the Thunderbirds in a head-to-head battle of the brothers.

Jon Blum, D — Vancouver Giants (WHL)

1st round, 23rd overall, 2007

Blum is continuing a steady progression toward assuming his place on the Predator blueline in the not too distant future. After just 20 games this season, he is already +24, with 11 goals and 19 assists, ranking 15th in league scoring. While the Giants made a somewhat early exit from the WHL playoffs last spring, Blum posted seven points in 10 contests and was +1. Blum also represented the U.S. in the 2008 World Junior Championship in Pardubice, Czech Republic.

Jeremy Smith, G — Plymouth Whalers (OHL)

2nd Round, 54th overall, 2007

After backstopping the U.S. entry in the World Juniors in 2008, Smith has struggled mightily this season with the last place Whalers (7-12-3-0). After posting very solid statistics in the previous two seasons at CompuWare Arena, and appearing as an OHL Western Conference all-star in 2007-08, Smith’s GAA has ballooned to 4.70 this season, with a slightly more respectable .880 save percentage. These two statistics combined indicate that Smith is seeing a lot of rubber this season for a weak Whalers squad.