Predators Report: Young Goaltenders Impressive

By Brian Roe

The Nashville Predators are showing some depth at a position once considered shallow. Jan Lasak, Brian Finley and Matt Davis are all off to impressive starts for their respective teams this season.

Lasak is the starting goaltender for the Milwaukee Admirals, the top affiliate of the Nashville Predators. Last season, Lasak played in only 34 games, but had 12 wins. He posted 2.39 goals against average and a .916 save percentage. Lasak also played in the final three games of the 01-02 season with the Nashville Predators, but was winless while posting a 4.38 GAA.

Jan had a very golden summer, as he led his Slovakian team to a gold medal at the World Championships, giving Nashville hope that Lasak can build confidence and play well enough to eventually compete as an NHL goaltender. When, and if, this happens, Nashville will likely move Brian Finley to Milwaukee.

Speaking of Brian Finley, the 1999 first round draft pick for the Nashville Predators made his pro debut last week with the Toledo Storm. Finley stopped 33 of 36 shots and led the Storm into the win column. Finley is the highest drafted player to begin his career in the ECHL, and is playing in Toledo in order to get back into a groove after missing all of last season with a groin injury.

Finley covers the net well, is a great puck-handler, and has the size and quickness necessary for a NHL netminder. The Predators still covet Finley, and believe that he can become the number one goaltender they originally envisioned when drafting him three years ago.

Not to be outdone, Matt Davis is also playing solid hockey for Moncton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In his first year as a member of the Nashville organization, Davis has already posted three wins and one tie in five games for the Moncton Wildcats. The 6’1″ goaltender has a goals against average of 2.02 to go with a .907 save percentage.

Davis is one of three on the Moncton squad who have been drafted by NHL teams. Nashville drafted Davis because they admired his work ethic, and were impressed with his maturity in the net.

The trio of Lasak, Finley and Davis, combined with Mike Dunham and Tomas Vokoun, give the Nashville Predators security for years to come at the goaltender’s position.

Terence’s Jersey Retired

Terence Tootoo, the brother of Nashville prospect Jordin Tootoo, had his jersey retired last Friday by the ECHL’s Roanoke Express. Terence was expected to return to the Express, but tragically committed suicide in late August. His jersey number, 22, is the same number that Jordin wore during training camp for the Predators, and the number he wears for Brandon of the WHL. All players on the Express will wear Terence’s number on their jerseys this season. Jordin and his parents were both in attendance for the ceremony.

Weekend of Firsts for Young Forwards

Adam Hall and Scottie Upshall each recorded their first NHL goals last week on the New England road trip. Hall netted his first career goal on Thursday against the New Jersey Devils when he drove to the New Jersey net and knocked a Kimmo Timonen rebound into the Devils net. Hall was playing in his second NHL game for Nashville after being called up from Milwaukee.

Scottie Upshall also scored his first NHL goal last weekend. Upshall intercepted the puck and scored on a slap shot against the New York Rangers on Saturday. Upshall registered his first NHL goal in just his third game for Nashville. Hall and Upshall helped the team gain points in the standings by contributing towards a tie in both games.

Nashville Recalls Defensemen

The Nashville Predators have recalled defenseman Mark Eaton from the Milwaukee Admirals. Eaton, 25, played in a career-high 58 games last season in Nashville but was sent back to the minor league ranks when Nashville acquired defensemen Pascal Trepanier in the off-season and Francis Bouillon through the waiver draft.

Milwaukee Update

The Milwaukee Admirals remain undefeated by tying the Cleveland Barons last Friday. The two teams skated to a 3-3 tie. The Admirals never led in the game but still managed to receive a point in the standings for their efforts. Darren Haydar recorded his first goal as a member of the Milwaukee team. Andrew Hutchinson and Cameron Mann also scored for the Admirals.

Slovak Playing Well

The underrated Tomas Slovak has started the season strong in Kelowna of the WHL. Slovak has four goals and ten assists in 11 games so far this season. Last season, Slovak recorded only two goals the entire season. The 6’1″ defenseman was a 2nd round draft choice for Nashville in the 2001 Entry Draft.

Who Are the Top Three Nashville Prospects?

This can be a good hot potato to toss around on the message board. By picking three prospects, you have the opportunity to chose one prospect from each of the three main positions (if you so choose). You can choose your favorite three prospects, the three players you think will excel the most once they reach the NHL, or the three players you feel are playing the best hockey right now. Remember you can only pick three, so who are they? Post your top 3 on the message board today!

Brian’s Top 3 ProspectsDan Hamhuis, Jordin Tootoo, Scott Upshall