With their first-round pick of Dante Fabbro, the Predators again displayed their fondness for high-end blueliners.
Nashville started the draft by going to its wheelhouse and drafting a potential workhorse defender.
17th Overall – Dante Fabbro – D
Fabbro is an excellent two-way threat. He takes care of his own end first; however, he has the hockey IQ and puck skills to take advantage offensively as well. Fabbro led all BCHL defensemen in points and finished sixth among all players in points per game. Nashville can afford to be patient with Fabbro, as he heads to Boston University this fall. I'd be surprised if he isn't playing pro hockey shortly.
Fabbro is an excellent fantasy option. He has the skill set to play a lot of minutes and provide offensive flair. The only thing working against him is the depth on D already playing in Nashville.
47th Overall – Samuel Girard – D
This may have been my favorite value pick in the entire draft. Girard is a defenseman who fits perfectly in the way the game is played today. He is a possession monster and is extraordinarily difficult to separate from the puck due to his quick feet and elite awareness. Girard unquestionably has first-round skills; however, he was available in the second because he doesn't have first-round size. Listed at a generous 5-10, Girard doesn't fit the prototypical mould of an NHL defender, although he is an analytics darling and I think his skill set will translate well to the NHL level.
Girard should be a target for any fantasy owner looking for a potential high-reward option. Girard is one of the most offensively gifted defenders in the draft, and outscored all other QMJHL defenseman by 15 points or more. Crowding on the back end is a concern for Nashville, however Girard brings an element of pure offensive firepower that is unmatched in the system.
76th Overall – Rem Pitlick – C
Pitlick is a second-time-eligible player who exploded onto the scene this year after a move from Waterloo to Muskegon in the USHL. His points total jumped from 16 to 89, which was 23 points clear of the second-highest scorer. Pitlick was named USHL player of the year and will head to the University of Minnesota for additional seasoning. Pitlick is undersized at 5-9, although he has a solid 195-pound frame and isn't afraid to go to the tough areas on the ice. Pitlick oozes skill and has the ability to get you out of your seat. While size is a concern, his development in the past year has the look of a player who has figured out how to be effective despite his stature.
Pitlick is yet another high-potential player drafted by the Preds this year. He has more bust potential than Fabbro or Girard, however he is arguably more needed, as Nashville isn't flush with high-skill offensive forwards. Keep an eye on Pitlick, as he is worth a stash on skill set alone in deeper leagues.
78th Overall – Frederic Allard – D
After picking the highest-scoring QMJHL defenseman in Girard, the Preds took the runner-up in Allard. Nashville's philosophy early in the draft was clearly to load up on high-skill players with point potential. Allard is a classic puck-moving blueliner who shows a knack for making smart decisions and getting the counterattack moving. Despite his strengths, Allard isn't elite in any regard and his ceiling is likely a middle-pair option who can chip in offensively and hold his own defensively.
Allard has decent offensive tools but will likely be no better than a depth option for fantasy purposes.
108th Overall – Hardy Haman-Aktell – D
The Preds went off the board with their fourth-rounder out of Sweden. It's tough to find information on this defender, as he spent the year in lower leagues on Skelleftea's under-18 team. That being said, he did put up over a point per game in under 18-play and is listed at a tidy 6-3, 198 pounds.
Until he gets more exposure he's a fantasy wild card. His points per game is a positive sign, however it's not against the toughest competition.
138th Overall – Patrick Harper – C
The Preds added the 5-8, 154-pounder with their fifth-round pick. Harper absolutely dominated the Massachusetts High School scene with more than two points per game. Albeit in a small stint with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL, he had four points in nine games. Harper is a long-term project, as he needs to add strength and test his mettle against tougher opponents. He will join Fabbro at Boston University eventually, though he may play a full year with Omaha before making the jump. Harper is likely a four-year college player.
Harper has offensive flair, however it'll likely be a while before he makes any significant contributions at the NHL level.
168th Overall – Konstantin Volkov – G
The Predators went to Russia for their sixth-rounder and took the 6-3, 212-pounder. He split time between St. Petersburg in the MHL and Varyagi Vsevolzhsk in MHL B, posting decent stats in both leagues. Volkov is another wild card, as he is likely a long way away from being an NHL option, and late-round picks from Russia always have a huge question mark whether they'll ever come over.
Likely a long-shot fantasy option. There are better options, even in very deep leagues.
198th Overall – Adam Smith – D
Smith is an overage draftee who suited up for Bowling Green this past season. He has a limited offensive arsenal, as witnessed by his three points in 22 games. As with most seventh-rounders, Smith is a longshot at best and if he makes the NHL, it will not be on the strength of his point production.
Not a viable fantasy option. Steer clear.
The biggest news for the Preds and maybe the league this off-season is obviously the acquisition of defensive dynamo P.K. Subban for longtime captain Shea Weber. The move gives Nashville an underappreciated perennial Norris trophy candidate. It's scary to think what Subban can do with the defensive support around him as opposed to the island he was on in Montreal. Along with Josi, Ekholm and Ellis, Nashville has arguably the most formidable top four D-Men in the NHL.
Roman Josi, seen here scoring a sweet goal, is part of arguably the NHL's top-four blueline group with P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm:
Some small but important things to note with the trade: One is that, while Weber is now a Canadien, Nashville is still largely on the hook for cap recapture penalties.
The second is that this move means that one of Ekholm or Ellis must be exposed in the expansion draft. If they lose one, look for a slight bump in the fantasy value of Fabbro/Girard/Allard as the road to the NHL opens a bit.
The Predators’ free-agent signings were largely depth moves this year. Depth defender Yannick Weber was the only player signed to a one-way contract. Defenseman Matt Irwin as well as forwards Harry Zolnierczyk, Trevor Smith, and Mike Liambas were signed to two-way deals.
Calle Jarnkrok and Petter Granberg have filed for salary arbitration. Jarnkrok's is an interesting case to watch, as he struggled this year while still having solid potential.
Nashville's prospect development camp took place in the first weekend of July and some invitees of note included former first-round goaltender Mark Visentin, former second-round pick Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau and the shockingly passed-over Zach Sawchenko.