A look at the Nashville Predators top 10 prospects heading into the 2015-16 season.
Since their arrival in the NHL, the Nashville Predators have had the identity of a strong defensive and physical team. Offence and prolific scoring has never been their hallmark, perhaps as a by-product of having Barry Trotz as their Head Coach for so many years, or perhaps because they are a budget team.
However, the future looks a little different as the Preds boast a prospect pipeline rich in forwards with some intriguing offensive potential with very few defensemen.
1. Kevin Fiala: Left Wing – 5’10” / 180 lbs
Drafted: Eleventh overall in the first round of the 2014 draft by Nashville.
Fiala is a dynamic skater. He has great speed and acceleration. He can beat defenders to the outside and get by them and cut to the net. He has great edgework and agility, and a tremendous first step. This gives him the ability to fool defenders with quick cuts and then turning on the jets. Fiala has very good balance and is strong on the puck and this should only improve as he continues to add muscle going forward. – Last Word On Sports
2. Jimmy Vesey: Left Wing – 6’1” / 194 lbs
Drafted: 66th overall in the third round of the 2012 draft by Nashville.
skilled, rangy winger .. strong, proactive shooter – packs a heavy wrist shot – good release power and quickness .. not a dynamic north-south skater – and hitches in his crossovers .. turning ability is a prime attribute though .. fluid and economical on edges – allowing him to cut with the puck .. creates chances by surprising with quick pivots and cuts .. proficient at getting into proper shooting lanes and body positions .. scores goals by arriving in prime spots at the right time. – McKeens Hockey
3. Colton Sissons: Centre – 6’1” / 187 lbs
Drafted: 50th overall in the second round of the 2012 draft by Nashville.
He shows good speed while entering the zone and uses his body to dictate play. Not afraid to get into the corners and battle for the puck. Sissons has a quick release on the wrist shot. Shows patience with the puck. – Penalty Box Radio
4. Juuse Saros: Goalie – 5’10” / 178 lbs
Drafted: 99th overall in the fourth round of the 2013 draft by Nashville.
Saros makes up for his lack of height with fantastic athleticism. He is a great skater in the crease, moving forwards and backwards to cut down angles and take away in tight moves, and really having stellar lateral movement to take away the cross crease pass. He tracks the puck well and is rarely caught out of position. He is extremely agile with really quick legs that take away the bottom of the net. Up top his glove hand is very good, and he is decent on the blocker side. Saros seems to be mentally strong and composed. He doesn’t let the bad goals get to him and recovers quickly from them. – Last Word On Sports
5. Vladislav Kamenev: Left Wing – 6’2” / 203 lbs
Drafted: 42nd overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by Nashville
Kamenev stands out because he plays a mature two-way game; the 6 foot 2, 176 lb winger is good with the puck both offensively and when it comes to shutting down the competition heading towards his own net. He doesn’t mind scoring and carrying the puck through the neutral zone, so his game translates well to North American ice — and although it sometimes means that he’s a penalty taker rather than a penalty drawer, the Orsk native plays a physical game that shows he isn’t afraid to initiate contact despite having a somewhat lean build. He’s a good enough skater, and he’s fast enough — if not particularly known as a speed demon — with plenty of on-ice control and good hands. – Today’s Slap Shot
6. Viktor Arvidsson: Right Wing – 5’9” / 172 lbs
Drafted: 112th overall in the fourth round of the 2014 draft by Nashville.
Arvidsson has excellent vision and puck movement. He forced a turnover in the neutral zone, activated his speed past the defender but shot wide. There were times when he would hold on to the puck for a split second too long, which negated a good scoring opportunity. This will get better as he matures. Scored a goal on a filthy one timer from Fiala from the face off circle. His speed and ability to move around the defender will be a great asset. – Penalty Box Radio
7. Austin Watson: Centre – 6’4” / 193 lbs
Drafted: 7th overall in the first round of the 2008 draft by Nashville.
6-4 forward brings mobility, work ethic and versatility .. uses speed, reach, and hustle to initiate forecheck .. lacks poise and patience with the puck in scoring areas .. eager to make plays right away .. will fire to empty spaces if he runs out of energy/ideas .. lacks natural offensive instincts – not a possession type .. will go to the net for loose pucks, and gets his share given his wingspan .. strong skater in both directions .. former top-20 pick should see some NHL action this season. – McKeens Hockey
8. Yakov Trenin: Centre/Left Wing – 6’2 / 194 lbs
Drafted: 55th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Nashville.
His puck skills are pretty good, can deke around defenders and uses solid puck protection due to his size and good speed once in the zone. He can make accurate, creative passes. His creativity with the puck is refreshing to watch. He has incredible vision down low or behind the net. Yakov possess a very hard shot with a pretty good release. He needs to shoot a bit more when in good position instead of looking to do a pass. He finishes his checks, goes in front of the net for deflection, initiates contact in the corners, works for loose pucks. – Future Considerations
9. Miikka Salomaki: Right Wing – 5’11” / 198 lbs
Drafted: 52nd overall in the second round of the 2011 draft by Nashville.
Salomaki is a two-way forward with an excellent work ethic who can play in all situations. He can play center or wing and is a tenacious defender that has some sandpaper to his game. More a playmaker than a pure scorer, he is reliable in the defensive zone. Salomaki is an energetic player and has worked to improve his skating stride, acceleration and balance. His responsible style of play fits well with the North American game. Hockeys Future
10. Jack Dougherty: Defence – 6’1” / 186 lbs
Drafted: 51st overall in the second round of the 2014 draft by Nashville.
Scouts are enamoured with Jack Dougherty’s all-around skill set as this young blueliner has few weaknesses in his game. Blessed with an great hockey processor, Dougherty shows intelligence and conviction in his abilities, which include a great outlet pass, good positioning and astute awareness on both sides of the puck. Committed to the University of Wisconsin, Dougherty will be mentored in a program that has produced some great defensemen (Gary Suter, Brian Rafalski, Chris Chelious, Ryan Suter and Jake Gardiner). His skating needs some polishing and quickness could be added but it appears Dougherty is among the top defenders in the 2014 NHL Draft class. – Brenda Ross
Recent Roster Graduates: Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Seth Jones
Honorable Mention: Pontus Aberg, Jonathan Diaby, Kristian Nakyva, Thomas Novak, Mikko Vainonen
Players under 25 years old and with less than 25 career NHL games played qualify as a prospect for purpose of this list.
Written by Peter Harling, who can be found on twitter @pharling