Nashville Predators Training Camp Update Part 2

By pbadmin

The first three roster cuts are complete and the remaining Nashville Predators prospects are entering the most important weekend of their careers. Nashville plays three games in as many nights and the trio of contests will offer the final chance for most prospects to earn roster spots. Here is the second of two reports that will provide updates on all the notable prospects who have participated in the Predators rookie camp and NHL training camp …

Ed Hill (6)

During the Nashville rookie camp, Ed Hill showed that he has the basic tools to be a successful NHL defenseman. He has a solid all-around game and is a smooth skater with good passing ability. He does not have any glaring weaknesses, but he will need to step up his game in the near future. He will return to the Barrie Colts of the OHL this season, where he is a teammate of fellow Predators prospect Brian Finley. If Hill can raise the level of his game over the next couple of years, he could develop into a very good prospect.

Karlis Skrastins (6)

Much like Richard Lintner, Karlis Skrastins has a slight chance of earning a roster spot in Nashville, but unless there are shocking developments, he will be back in Milwaukee for another season. Skrastins is one of several defensemen who have tried to show their offensive skills in an attempt to win a job as an offensive defenseman and power play specialist. But Skrastins is not strong enough defensively or tough enough physically to make the team. With another year in the minors, he could work on those areas of his game and make a more serious run at making the Predators next season. He saw some action in the NHL late last season, so he is not far from making the jump, but Nashville still needs to play a grinding, defensive style and cannot afford to have any liabilities on the ice.

Jayme Filipowicz (6)

A free agent signing from the University of New Hampshire, Filipowicz made a good impression during the Nashville rookie camp and in the first few days of training camp with the veterans. He had an advantage over many of the other prospects because he has played three years of college hockey and is much older.

At 6’2″ 212, he has the size to compete at the NHL level. He also showed his talent last season, when he earned First Team All-Hockey East honors and was a Second Team All-American East selection. He plays an impressive physical game and had the best hit of the rookie camp tournament when he leveled 6’4″ 230-pound Kenzie Homer of the St. Louis Blues. Filipowicz is an offensive defenseman who can provide skill at the blueline, but he needs to work on his defensive play. He was sent down to Milwaukee in the second wave of training camp roster cuts and will probably play a full season in the IHL.

Kent Sauer (6)

After just one year of college hockey at Minnesota-Duluth, Kent Sauer decided to play professionally this season. He made a strong showing during the Nashville rookie camp and provided some surprising offense, especially considering that he only had one goal and three assists in 38 games with Minnesota-Duluth last season. Sauer will play this season in Milwaukee and seems to have a good attitude. He is prepared to make the sacrifices to improve his game at the minor league level and appears to be developing into a legitimate prospect. He has great size and uses every bit of it to punish opponents. He could bring some much-needed toughness to the Nashville blueline in the future.

Konstantin Panov (5.5)

There was virtually no mention of Konstantin Panov by the Nashville organization during rookie camp, but that is probably because he was an eighth round draft pick this summer. Panov is undersized at 5’11” 186, but he played well during the rookie camp, scoring a goal and an assist. After spending the 1998-99 season in the WHL and gaining experience in the North American game, Panov had an advantage over some of the other Europeans in camp, but he faces a battle to make it to the NHL. He was returned to the Kamloops Blazers for the coming season and will need to maximize his skills in order to compensate for his lack of size.

Jeff Kealty (5)

It has been an unproductive training camp for Jeff Kealty, who suffered a concussion in the exhibition opener against the Atlanta Thrashers and has been unable to practice or play since then. Kealty will travel with the team for its trio of games over the weekend, but he is not expected to play. Without an opportunity to show his ability, Kealty has possibly lost ground on the organizational depth chart. He should be back in Milwaukee very soon.

Chris Mason (5)

The clock is ticking for Chris Mason, who will need to have a good season in Milwaukee if he wants to maintain his status on the organizational depth chart. With the arrival of Corey Hirsch, the Predators now have an experienced player who can back up Mike Dunham and Tomas Vokoun, so Mason will need to put up impressive numbers if he wants to regain his status as the number three goalie for Nashville. The coaches are impressed with his development since last season, but right now Mason lacks the talent to beat out Hirsch.

Danny Riva (5)

Riva signed as a free agent after completing his college career and he has been a pleasant surprise for the Predators. With his physical maturity and experience, Riva has had an advantage over some of his fellow prospects. He is also a feisty, hard-working player who fits in well with the blue collar philosophy of head coach Barry Trotz. Riva will probably be sent down to Milwaukee after this weekend, but he has survived the roster cuts to date and has played in two exhbition games. As a center, he is at a major disadvantage because of the depth that Nashville has at that position.

Alexander Boikov (5)

As if they needed anymore depth on defense, the Predators signed free agent defenseman Alexander Boikov this summer and he has remained in training camp through the initial roster cuts. The 24 year-old Russian was originally signed as a free agent by the San Jose Sharks in 1996, after finishing his career in the WHL. Since then, he has spent time in the AHL and in the Russian elite league. Nashville coaches have liked his play during the pre-season and he has even seen action in exhibition games. Boikov will not make the team, but he will give the Predators yet another decent prospect in the minors.

Matt Henderson (5)

There is no shortage of hard-working grinders in the Nashville organization, but Matt Henderson could be headed for a breakthrough season in the IHL. He played in the first two exhibition games for the Predators and then was sent down to Milwaukee, where he will likely see increased playing time and get an opportunity to develop his offensive skills. Henderson has the size to reach the NHL, but he will need to elevate his game since Nashville now has more depth in its organization and the competition to make the team has become much tougher. But the Predators lack depth at right wing, so Henderson could be one of the first players to be called up if there are injuries.

Brett Angel (5)

Angel has great size, which is probably the most coveted trait in the NHL these days. At 6’5 221, he provides a definite physical presence on the ice. But he will need considerable work on his skill and is probably a long-term project. The Predators are sold on his toughness and ability to hit. He skates well for his size, so he has an advantage over most big men. He is probably an enforcer in the making, but as a defenseman he will be expected to do more than fight.

Martin Erat (5)

Martin Erat faced a language barrier in coming to the Nashville rookie camp and had no prior experience with the North American game, but his arrival was a success in itself. Erat has made the commitment to play in North America, which is often the key to development for European players. He will play for the Saskatoon Blades this season, where he will get a crash course in English and the more physical North American game. It is unlikely that Erat can overcome his lack of size to reach the NHL. He is listed at 5’11” 172 but is more likely 5’9″. But he has chosen the right path by playing in the WHL, where he is sure to be tested by the size and strength of opposing players.

Richard Brennan (5)

The Predators brought Richard Brennan into camp as a free agent in order to put pressure on holdout Drake Berehowsky. Brennan is a defenseman with plenty of minor league experience who saw limited action with the New York Rangers last season. He does not excel in any particular area, but he is capable of filling in as a fifth or sixth defenseman. He moves the puck well and can contribute on the power play, which is what he has done for the Predators during exhibition games. Now that Berehowsky has signed a new contract, it is a much tougher task for Brennan to make the team, but he has played so well that he might just survive the final roster cuts.

Marc Moro (3)

Marc Moro may have a long career ahead of him, but it will be in the minors. His days with the Predators are probably numbered, unless the team finds itself thin at the enforcer role. Moro will be headed back to the minors soon and he will resume his role as a fighter on the blueline. With so many decent young defensemen in the organization, Moro will probably never play in Nashville and his limited offensive ability will probably keep him out of the NHL altogether.

Kyle Kettles (3)

Some might wonder why Nashville drafted a goalie who was not good enough to break into the WHL last season and did not even post good numbers in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. But the mystery was solved when Predators scout and former NHL goaltender Rick Knickle explained that he was solely resonsible for the pick. Knickle convinced Nashville to draft Kettles after seeing him play one game in the MJHL.

Despite the seeming insanity of drafting a player based on a single performance, the Predators maintain that Kettles is a good prospect. He had a horrible start in rookie camp, allowing three goals on nine shots in his first tournament appearance. But amazingly, Kettles redeemed himself in his next outing with a 23-save shutout against the Chicago Blackhawks. He will return to junior hockey this season and will battle for a job with the Medicine Hat Tigers of the WHL. If he can establish himself there and get plenty of ice time, Kettles might defy logic and actually develop into a solid prospect, but his real potential is still a question mark.

Projected Regular Season Roster

Drake Berehowsky D
Joel Bouchard D
Bob Boughner D
Patrick Cote LW
Phil Crowe RW
Mike Dunham G
Tom Fitzgerald RW
Greg Johnson LW
Dan Keczmer D
Patric Kjellberg LW
Sergei Krivokrasov RW
David Legwand C
Craig Millar D
Ville Peltonen LW
Brent Peterson LW
Randy Robitaille C
Cliff Ronning C
Kimmo Timonen D
Darren Turcotte C
Scott Walker C/RW
Steve Washburn C
Tomas Vokoun G
Jan Vopat D
Vitali Yachmenev RW

Injured Reserve
Sebastien Bordeleau