Predators Report: 2002 Draft Review, Day 1

By Brian Roe

The Nashville Predators made a total of five trades during Saturday’s portion of the 2002 NHL Draft. In doing so, Nashville moved only one organizational player while deciding to keep the sixth overall selection, which they used to draft right winger Scottie Upshall.

With a draft pool that is considered weak, David Poile and the Nashville Predators decided to do some wheeling and dealing, which netted several more 2003 draft picks. Here is a look at the trades from Saturday:

  • Nashville acquired a third round choice (#95) in 2002 from Anaheim (previously acquired from Boston) for future considerations.
  • Nashville acquired a third round choice (#88) in 2002 and a second-round choice in 2003 from Buffalo for a second-round choice (#36) in 2002.
  • Nashville acquired a conditional third round selection in 2003 from Toronto for a third round choice (#88) in 2002.
  • Nashville acquired a third round selection in 2003 from Detroit for a third round choice (#95) in 2002.
  • Nashville acquired a conditional third round selection in 2003 from Washington for unsigned forward Petr Sykora.

If you noticed, Sykora was the only player that the Predators had to trade in order to acquire these draft picks. It appeared that Nashville had given up on Petr Sykora, with that notion being confirmed on Saturday when he was dealt to the Washington Capitals.


The Nashville Predators now have ten draft choices in the first four rounds of the 2003 Draft, which is already touted as being twice as deep as the 2002 Draft pool.

The first three rounds are now history at the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, with the Preds having just one new player to show for their afternoon of work. Disregard any negative feedback you may have heard about Scott Upshall, however, because he is the real deal.

In the world of hockey scouting, where everything from height and weight to family background is tested and checked, it is amazing that someone like Scottie Upshall could be so overlooked. In an interview on ESPN 2 following the selection of Upshall, GM David Poile was asked if it was a hard decision to choose between Scott and Joffrey Lupul. Poile responded by saying that the Ft. McMurray, Alberta native was the player the Predators wanted all along, then went on to describe Upshall (pronounced Up-shawl) as a fiery player who possesses great character and leadership qualities, as well as an unlimited work ethic.

While many, including this particular writer, were rooting for a trade to either move up in the draft order or acquire some help now, Poile continued to stick with his plan of patience with his selection of Upshall.

Upshall is not big by NHL standards (he is listed at anywhere from 5-9 to 5-11 depending on who you ask), and he was advertised in pre-draft write-ups as a “3rd-line player at best.” Upshall and the Nashville Predators, however, are seeing things a little differently.

Upshall, who is the 3rd consecutive WHL player that the Predators have drafted with their top pick, starred in that league the past two seasons with the Kamloops Blazers. He was second on the team in scoring this season with 83 points (32 goals, 51 assists) in 61 games.

Michael Peca and Darcy Tucker are the two players Upshall is most compared to. Some of the similarities include an exceptional two-way game, the ability to annoy everyone on the ice, a knack for making big plays, and rarely taking a shift off.

On top of all of Upshall’s on-ice capabilities, his biggest upside may come from what he does off the ice. Scott is generally the first one to show up for practice and the last one to leave. He is a very emotional player, but easily gains the respect of teammates by working hard and leading by example.

Scottie is considered the best character guy in the draft, and, like new teammate Scott Hartnell, Upshall is another player who has the leadership qualities necessary for becoming a captain in the National Hockey League. His greatest trait, however, is that he will never be outworked, whether it be in the weight room, in the locker room, or on the ice.

The scouting report on Scottie Upshall reads like this: “solid skater blessed with great hands, good on both ends and excels once he enters the offensive zone. Good passer, huge hitter, hard worker, and a dedicated individual.”

Upshall sounds like he is the kind of player the Nashville Predators want to build around. Scottie will likely need a season in the minors before making the jump to the pros. If you have learned anything from the description above, however, it should be that you never discount Scottie Upshall.