Welcome to the August 2019 edition of the DobberProspects 31-in-31 Series! This month, we will be diving into the depth of each organization, looking at their recent graduates, risers, fallers and Top 20 prospects. Let’s dive in!
Since the 2019 NHL Draft in June, Nashville has been busy shaking up the main roster and gearing up for another postseason run. While the Predators continue to punch their playoff ticket year after year, naturally, their draft position takes a hit. The team has not drafted in the Top 10 since 2013 (Seth Jones), which speaks to the success of the organization and with the team in ‘win now’ mode, don’t expect Nashville drafting in the top half of the draft anytime soon.
The Nashville 31 in 31 series in July introduced the newest Predator prospects where we saw a notable focus on selecting offensive skill sets to compliment a deep pool of defense first prospects. In this installment of the 31 in 31 August series, we review some of the 2018-19 pipeline standouts and those making a charge up the organization:
Of the veteran prospect core, the most notable graduating player is defenseman Dante Fabbro leaving Boston University and locking down a spot in the Top 6 in Nashville. With steady play down the stretch in the regular and seeing over 12:00 minutes of ice time in a few outings during the playoffs, Fabbro is a safe bet to be a key cog in the fold come the fall, but more on him later.
Rem Pitlick signed his entry-level contract after his season concluded at the University of Minnesota. He will be a welcomed addition to the Milwaukee Admiral attack. Pitlick topped his totals from 2017-18 (31 pts) with 48 pts in 2018-19 and really put himself on the map showcasing his offensive potential. He improved his shot and his release totaling 21 goals and lead Minnesota in goals and points.
Some of the newest Predator pups will be playing in new home rinks as well. 2019 2nd rounder Egor Afanasyev is leaving the Muskegon Lumberjacks for Windsor in the OHL. Afanasyev will put himself to the test and compete against some of the best Canadian Junior players in the country. He will have his work cut out for him as Windsor was one of the lowest scoring teams in the OHL in 2018-19. Afanazyev’s puck possession and shot should make an immediate impact.
Alexander Campbell is on the move from the Victoria Grizzlies in the BCHL to the Omaha Lancers in the USHL. Similarly to Afanasyev, Campbell will join a group that had a difficult time offensively. There is no doubt Campbell has strong puck skills and knack for playmaking and he should expect to see plenty of ice-time in all situations to show off his tools.
Last of the list of graduates is 2019 draftee, goaltender Ethan Haider. The 5th rounder will be tending the net as a Sioux City Musketeer after a stellar season in 2018-19 with Minnesota of the NAHL. Haider joins a competitive goaltending core in Sioux City and will battle it out to establish himself and earn his share of games. He is already committed to Clarkson in 2020-21 and will need to focus on building his strength to stay on his development curve.
Well, it seems another Nashville defender has made terrific strides and is ready for prime time. Fabbro stepped away from the program at Boston University after his 3rd campaign and joined the Predators down the stretch and into the playoffs in 2019. The all around defender further developed his offensive game this past season scoring his best totals as a Terrier with 33 points in 38 games, good enough for second on the team. Fabbro stepped into the Nashville lineup in the playoffs and didn’t miss a beat. He showed great poise and composure for a 20-year old and only added to the Predators blue line with a respectable 52.3% Corsi rating.
The Coquitlam, BC native already had an inside track at making the Top 6 this fall, but with the trading of PK Subban, not only will Fabbro see increased minutes, he will likely see more opportunities to contribute to the offense with 2nd line power play time. While his production grew every year in the NCAA, the transition to replicate similar production at the NHL level will take time. Fabbro had a strong development camp at the end of June and coach Jeff Kealty thinks he is ready for the NHL level:
Fabbro won’t have an immediate fantasy impact to start the season, but his versatility to play in all situations and increased ice-time with Subban’s departure will definitely score him some totals in multi-stat leagues. He could still surprise though, especially if he grows more confident with the NHL pace and utilizes his shot effectively.
It’s been a number of years developing in the minors for Richard, but he finally broke out with strong numbers for Milwaukee in 2018-19. Richard owned the scoresheet for the Admirals last season leading the way with 24 goals and 23 assists in 73 games, totals much that parallel his production to his days back in the QMJHL. While Richard only plays at 5’10” and 176 pounds, he plays a much bigger game with speed and tenacity. In 2019-20, the scoring winger will look to continue building on his frame and overall strength in order to take his game to the next level. His combination of quickness and puck skills make him very versatile and a great compliment to any line pairing. Expect to see Richard build on his numbers this year and get more than a 1 game stint with Nashville.
When the Predators selected Kondelik in the 4th round in 2018, they knew the 6’4″ 230 pounder would be a project but did he ever make a splash as an NCAA rookie. Kondelik scored 22 assists and 26 points over 33 games, placing him 13th in NCAA rookie scoring and 2nd on his UConn squad. His size made for a smooth transition playing against more mature skaters, but there were question marks about whether his skating would match up and he managed. He will continue to try and refine his stride over the next few seasons as Kondelik we won’t expect him to make an NHL appearance anytime soon. His sheer size, playmaking and puck protection are intriguing to say the least.
Harper exploded onto the scene in BU back in 2016-17 with just under a point per game pace and replicated the same in a shortened season in 2017-18, but last year, he has stumbled. 20 points in 38 games is a far cry of what the creative center is accustomed to, finishing only 6th in team scoring. Harper enters his final year of eligibility with some added pressure as expectations to return to his scoring prowess will be high. On top of that, Harper has been named an assistant captain and will have additional responsibilities on and off the ice. With top scorers Joel Farabee and Dante Fabbro gone, the stage is set for Harper to take the lead and the Predators will be watching.
In the early stages of his time in Milwaukee, Trenin has not lived up to his billing as an offensive threat night in and night out. To this point, Trenin continues to work on his skating and his positional play and answered the call with his strongest season yet last year scoring 33 points in 79 games and 3 more in a brief 5-game first round playoff exit. Where he has lacked in scoring, Trenin has in fact rounded out his defensive play and has become a more reliable centerman. With his contract ending after this season, time may be running out for Trenin to show that he can produce and excel at the pro level.
Somebody has to catch the injury bug and Haman-Aktell had not been able to shake it in the past number of years. From 2016-17 to 2017-18, Haman-Aktell played all of 17 games for the Skelleftea J20 team in the SuperElit league. While the two-way defender scoring at an expected pace, concerns rose around his durability and whether he would be able to sustain an engaging and physical style of play. In 2018-19, he bounced back playing a full season for IF Bjorkloven in the Allsvenskan and recorded 6 points and 28 penalty minutes over 34 games. With time ticking on a potential contract coming for Nashville, Haman-Aktell will need to replicate another strong outing in 2019-20 in order to prove himself.