Nashville Predators – Offseason Prospect System Review

by Jokke Nevalainen on August 23, 2018

 

***

Thanks for joining us for our August 31-in-31 series! Every day this month we will be taking a look at each team and diving into their prospect depth charts, risers and fallers, graduating prospects, and top ten prospects in the system.

***

 

Offseason Moves

 

The Predators had a very quiet NHL Entry Draft because they only had a total of four draft choices, and their highest pick was 111th overall. Safe to say this draft won’t be a game-changer for them. You can read a more detailed review of their draft from here: Nashville Predators 2018 Draft Review and Development Camp Updates

 

On August 14th, the Predators signed defenseman Ryan Ellis to an eight-year contract with average annual value of $6,250,000. Ellis will be 36 years old when this contract expires, so it’s not a terrible idea to give him that full eight-year term. Ellis scored 32 points in just 44 games last season, and it’s not unreasonable to think he could score 50 points this season if he stays healthy. He’s a reliable two-way defenseman who can play important minutes, and he’s also a leader on that team. That might seem like a lot of money but it seems like a reasonable contract all things considered.

 

Graduating Players

 

Juuse Saros – Played a few games in the AHL to avoid rust but spent most of the year in the NHL and got to play 26 games during the regular season and another four games during the playoffs, and his results were amazing. Saros was recently signed to three-year extension, and he’s a lock for the NHL roster now. He could get about 30 games this season to keep Pekka Rinne fresh for the playoffs.

 

Eeli Tolvanen – Made his NHL debut late in the season after a great rookie season in the KHL. He can’t go back to the KHL after signing an NHL contract but he does have a European assignment clause in his contract which means he can return to Europe if the Predators assign him to the AHL, so it’s very likely he’s sticking at the NHL level this season.

 

Frédérick Gaudreau – The Predators gave him a three-year contract last summer, and he’s eligible for waivers now. They clearly like him and don’t want to lose him, so a bottom-six job is there for him if he’s ready for it. But nothing will be given to him, he needs to earn his spot.

 

Risers

 

Eeli Tolvanen – Somehow fell all the way to 30th overall in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft but had a historically good season in the KHL as an 18-year-old. Would go much higher in a re-draft. Might be a bit buried right now but I wouldn’t bet against him. Potential Rookie of the Year candidate.

 

Patrick Harper – Was drafted in the 5th round in 2016 but has scored 58 points in 58 games over the past two seasons at Boston University. He’s staying in college for another year or two but he’s someone to keep an eye on.

 

Emil Pettersson – The older brother of the Canucks’ super prospect Elias was pretty much an unknown a year ago but he had a strong rookie season in North America which put him on the map. His 46 points in 72 games led their AHL squad. The Predators have some depth ahead of him but he’s looking to crack the roster soon because he’s already 24 years old.

 

Fallers

 

Yakov Trenin – Played his rookie pro season in the AHL but didn’t have much to show for it offensively. Played three straight seasons in the QMJHL with over point-per-game average but it looks like those numbers won’t translate to pro hockey. Could still become a good bottom-six forward, though.

 

Alexandre Carrier – His numbers took a step backwards during his second season in the AHL – from 39 points in his rookie season to 28 now. Posted strong numbers in the QMJHL during his final two seasons there but may not become more than a depth defenseman in the NHL.

 

Jack Dougherty – This 22-year-old defenseman has been a disappointment ever since he was drafted in the second round, 51st overall, back in 2014. Has played two full seasons in the AHL now and still hasn’t even cracked 15 points. Feel free to forget him at this point.

 

Prospect Depth Chart

 

Left Wing

Eeli Tolvanen, NHL

Anthony Richard, AHL

Grant Mismash, NCAA

Justin Kirkland, AHL

Tyler Gaudet, AHL

 

Center

Emil Pettersson, AHL

Yakov Trenin, AHL

Patrick Harper, NCAA

Thomas Novak, NCAA

Rem Pitlick, NCAA

Pavel Koltygin, QMJHL

 

Right Wing

Frédérick Gaudreau, AHL

Rocco Grimaldi, AHL

Tyler Moy, AHL

 

Defense

Dante Fabbro, NCAA

Alexandre Carrier, AHL

Frédéric Allard, AHL

Jack Dougherty, AHL

Joonas Lyytinen, AHL

David Farrance, NCAA

Jacob Paquette, OHL

Adam Smith, NCAA

Hardy Häman-Aktell, Allsvenskan

 

Goalie

Juuse Saros, NHL

Tomas Vomacka, NCAA

 

Top Ten Fantasy Prospects

 

  1. Eeli Tolvanen, LW – One of the best prospects in the world right now. Should play in the NHL this season but there are some bodies ahead of him. Great goal-scorer but has underrated playmaking abilities as well.
  2. Juuse Saros, G – An heir apparent to the aging Pekka Rinne but I have my doubts about his ability to play 60+ games per season at elite level. Could be a starter who plays about 50 games per season at a high level, though.
  3. Dante Fabbro, D – Will be a solid top-four defenseman for a long time but will be more valuable in real life. It’s also very unlikely there’s going to be offensive minutes available for him in Nashville, so he may need a trade to produce anything noteworthy. Will spend another year in college.
  4. Patrick Harper, C – If he can overcome his lack of size (5-7, 150), he can be a very good fantasy player. He won’t be a checker in the NHL – he’ll be there to score goals and make plays. Will spend another year or two in college.
  5. Anthony Richard, LW – Small (5-10, 163) but very fast offensive forward. Had a good second season in the AHL. Needs more time but could be a sneaky fantasy option.
  6. Emil Pettersson, C – The 24-year-old center has good size (6-2, 163) and good offensive tools. Skating is not great, and he needs to make his mark quickly because of his age. This late-bloomer had a good rookie season in the AHL where he scored 46 points in 72 games.
  7. Rem Pitlick, C – Another small (5-9, 196) offensive forward with very good speed. The 21-year-old center has scored 63 points in 74 games at the University of Minnesota over the past two seasons. Plays bigger than his size suggests. Will spend another year or two in college.
  8. Yakov Trenin, C – Two-way center with good size (6-2, 201). Has some offensive talent but will likely end up playing more of a defensive role at the NHL level. Could be an injury call-up as early as this season.
  9. Grant Mismash, LW – Physical winger who had a good rookie season at NCAA where he scored 22 points in 38 games for the University of North Dakota. More valuable in multi-cat leagues. Will spend another year or two in college.
  10. Frédéric Allard, D – Had a good rookie season in the AHL where he scored 24 points in 55 games. Posted strong numbers in the QMJHL during his final two years there. Has some talent but it’s pretty much impossible for him to find offensive opportunities in Nashville.

 

*

 

And that’s all for now. Feel free to add comments below. Follow me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.

 

Image courtesy of NHL.com