Predators Report: Will Preds Trade 6th Overall Pick?

By Brian Roe

Word out of Nashville is that the Predators will attempt to trade their 2002 1st round draft choice, which is the 6th pick overall. They will not be giving that draft choice away, however.

David Poile, General Manager of the Nashville Predators, recently said that if a team offered a top 4 defensemen or a forward who can play on the top two lines, he would seriously consider moving the pick.

Nashville has never before traded their first round draft choice. David Legwand (1998), Brian Finley (1999), Scott Hartnell (2000), and Dan Hamhuis (2001) are the only four players selected in the first round in the history of the Nashville Predators.

The Predators are looking to be more competitive this season, with the club facing the realization that their lack of experienced and/or impact players hinders their playoff quest. With a solid nucleus of Scott Hartnell, Scott Walker (who is expected to be fully recovered by next season), Greg Johnson, David Legwand, Denis Arkhipov, Vladimir Orszagh, Bill Houlder, Kimmo Timonen, Jere Karalahti, and Andy Delmore, the Predators are hoping to fill a few more holes in their lineup via the trade or free agent route.

One problem that may arise in this situation is the lack of quality depth that exists in this group of 2002 draft-eligible prospects. Many teams are rumored to be shopping their picks, which could take down the value of the Predators pick. However, many of the other teams do not have a top 10 pick, so, with the sixth pick overall, the Predators will certainly have some leverage if the right deal comes along.

The Forgotten Prospect

He is, perhaps, the most talented prospect in the Nashville system. He is over six feet tall, possesses lightning speed, and can score goals. Who is he? Petr Sykora. Sykora (same name, but different player than the Petr Sykora in New Jersey) is one of the most talented of all the prospects whose rights are owned by the Predators. Contract rights, of course, are the main reason he is not in Nashville, or even Milwaukee. The Czech Republic owns the rights to his contract, and Sykora wants to keep it that way. Sykora was acquired from Detroit along with a conditional draft choice for expansion draft pick Doug Brown.

World Championship Updates

… Defensive partners Kimmo Timonen and Jere Karalahti both represented Finland in the World Championships. Timonen posted a goal and 2 assists, while Karalahti scored 2 goals and 3 assists. The Predators are hoping for the same kind of production from these two next season.

… Jan Lasak posted a 2.28 goals against average and a .921 save percentage en route to winning the gold medal for Slovakia. The Preds are planning on starting Lasak in Milwaukee again this season, and hope he can play 60 or more games.

… Prospect Peter Smrek, also on the gold winning Slovakian team, did not post a point in the 9 contests. He was paired with Richard Lintner (the Predators traded Lintner for Smrek at the trading deadline this season), with Lintner notching 4 goals and 4 assists in the WC tournament.

New Enforcer

With Stu Grimson’s career likely coming to a close, the Predators wasted no time acquiring a new enforcer. Steve Parsons, 6-4, 234 pounds, was acquired earlier this week from Pittsburgh. Parsons did not play in the NHL last season, but recorded 366 penalty minutes in 55 games for Wilkes-Barre in the AHL. Don’t underestimate the importance of the enforcer. The Flyers traded one of their top young forwards (Jan Hlavac) to the Canucks this season for tough guy Donald Brashear. As the Preds grow up, they will certainly need someone to protect their future stars.

Goaltending Scenarios

For now, the Predators will stick with their original plan of Mike Dunham as the starting goalie, and Tomas Vokoun as the primary backup. However, many around the NHL believe Vokoun could be a starting goaltender. Depending on where Curtis Joseph, Ed Belfour and Mike Richter land, the Preds may get a solid offer for Dunham or Vokoun. In addition to the Dunham/Vokoun tandem playing with the Preds, Jan Lasak will return to Milwaukee, with Brian Finley playing in the ECHL. Chris Mason, barring his release, will also play with the Admirals next season.

Prospective Excitement

Names like Dan Hamhuis, Jordin Tootoo, Darren Haydar, and Adam Hall have Barry Trotz and David Poile very excited about the future of the Nashville Predators. Hamhuis has the size and skills to be a top 4 defensemen in the NHL, but is likely two years away from the pro roster. Tootoo, though undersized, is exactly the kind of player the Predators want to build their team around – high energy, high intensity, with solid all-around skills. Combine the bright futures of Tootoo, Hamhuis and others, along with Arkhipov, Hartnell, and Legwand and we could be talking about a formidable team in a few years … very formidable.

Speaking of David Legwand …

Many Predators fans are starting to doubt the ability of David Legwand to lead this team to the next level. Legwand, who doesn’t have the future leadership capacity of Scott Hartnell or the intensity of Vladimir Orszagh, does indeed have the necessary NHL skills to make it as a big time player in this league. Some individuals (Todd Bertuzzi, Patrick Marleau, Martin Straka to name a few) just need more time to mature into NHL-caliber players. Legwand is already a solid, but sometimes lazy, defensive player. He is faster than most other players in the National Hockey League, and is still only 21 years old! Some growing up will be necessary, but Legwand could yet become a superstar in the NHL.

What Do You Think?

Should the Predators trade their 1st round (6th overall) pick, or hold on to it and keep building with another solid young prospect? Give your opinion on the Nashville board today.