2015-16 Nashville Predators Top 10 Prospects

2015-16 Nashville Predators Top 10 Prospects

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Nashville Predators

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.

Last year the Preds had rookie sensation Filip Forsberg take the NHL by storm and was an early Calder Trophy favorite. Fiala hopes to repeat that performance but will have some monster competition in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, timing is everything! Fiala spent parts of last season on five different teams as a 19 year old playing pro hockey in Sweden and North America. He played 20 games for HV71 in the SHL and represented Switzerland in both the WJC and the WC. He played 33 games in the AHL where he scored 20 points and finally made his NHL debut playing one regular season game at the end of the season, as well as game four against Chicago in the Conference Quarter-finals. He will have to win a job out of training camp, but he is projected to make the team, and could play the wing on a line with Calle Jarnkrok and Cody Hodgson.

Scouting Report:

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.

Vesey had a breakout season for Harvard scoring 58 points to lead his team in scoring and to an ECAC Championship. He won several individual awards including ECAC and Ivy League player of the year and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker award. He also represented team USA at the WJC in 2013, scoring five points in seven games, helping USA to win the Gold. He played for USA last year at the WC, winning the Bronze Medal while scoring three points in nine games. Vesey will return to Harvard for his senior year as a 22 year old and will make his pro debut at the end of the school year. He has the size and skill to walk right into the NHL.

Scouting Report:

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.

After seeing 17 games with Nashville in his first year as a pro, Sissons played the entire year in the AHL in his second season, putting up back-to-back 25 goal seasons and was named an alternate captain. Sissons is a heart and soul type player who is sound defensively, has offensive up side, and is a team first player. He is on a scoring line in the AHL but projects as an excellent third line centre in the NHL. He may need a little more time in the AHL but will be an impact player when he arrives.

Scouting Report:

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.

Shortly after he was drafted in the fourth round, Saros had a breakout performance for Finland at the ’13 WJC posting a 1.57 GAA and a .943 save% to lead Finland to the Gold Medal.  Last year he played for HPK in Finland, posting impressive stats again against pros with a 2.14 GAA, and a .929 save%. He was also named to team Finland at the WC but was limited to one game, which he posted a shutout in, as Pekka Rinne’s backup. Saros will make his North American debut this year in the AHL and may see a few seasons there playing the starting role with Milwaukee as Rinne is the incumbent in Nashville. There is no need to rush the heir apparent in Saros who projects to be the next franchise goalie.

Scouting Report:

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 has had his KHL contract mutually terminated, allowing him to come over to North America. Kamenev has played the last two years in the KHL against men and as a 19 year old will likely play this season in the AHL. Kamenev has also represented Russia at the WJC in a checking line role and still managed to produce four points in seven games. More of a two-way player than a typical flashy offensive Russian forward, his game should translate well in North America. The question is how long will he be in the AHL before he earns a regular spot in Nashville?

Scouting Report:

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 is an undersized late blooming player who went undrafted for three years. After a breakout season with Skelleftea in Sweden where he scored 40 points in 50 games, the Preds drafted him. The following year he would come to North America and at 21 led Milwaukee in scoring as a rookie and finished with 55 points, good for third overall in AHL rookie scoring.  Arvidsson was also rewarded with a six game NHL audition, but was held pointless. He could be an injury call up in a top six role this year again. He is close.

Scouting Report:

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.

On many other teams, Watson would have had a much longer look at the NHL level already, but the Preds are deep with prospects and at centre. Perhaps the teams tendency to acquire free agent veteran centres is an indication they don’t believe in Watson. He has played the last three years in the AHL and has posted 20 or more goals in each season, proving an offensive ability to compliment his physical two-way game. He should be a typical Predators third line centre, and will get a NHL look soon either in Nashville, or with another team.

Scouting Report:

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.

Trenin was the Preds first pick in 2015 after gambling (and losing) on trading their first to Toronto for rentals Cody Franson and Mike Santorelli. Trenin had a breakout season in his first year in the CHL playing for Gatineau where he produced 67 points in 58 games. Trenin impressed during the rookie camp and was signed to his entry level contract. He will return to the QMJHL for his second season and turn pro next year.

Scouting Report:

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 entering the third and final year of his ELC and had an up and down season last year. His point totals dropped from the previous season from 0.67 to 0.47 points per game. However, his overall game rounded out, making him a versatile player. He made his NHL debut and scored in his first NHL game in January. He suffered a season ending injury in February which limited him to just 38 games in the AHL.  Salomaki should see time split between the AHL and the NHL and while not as offensively talented as some of the other prospects in the system, he can fit in a variety of positions and a variety of roles.

Scouting Report:

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.

Dougherty is the Predators top ranked defenceman, and the only one to grace this list. The 19 year old started his college career after being drafted by the Preds and nine points in 33 games for Wisconsin in his freshman year. The Predators blueline is stacked with Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Seth Jones, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm, so there is no rush for Dougherty who will playout his college career.

Scouting Report:

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

Kevin Fiala

Jimmy Vesey

Colton Sissons

Juuse Saros

Vladislav Kamenev

Viktor Arvidsson

Austin Watson

Yakov Trenin

Miikka Salomaki

Jack Dougherty