Fresh off a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, the Nashville Predators are hot to earn a return ticket to complete some unfinished business.
In an attempt to improve their chances Predators GM David Poile made a blockbuster three-way trade with Colorado Avalanche and the Ottawa Senators to acquire Kyle Turris to strengthen the team down the middle. The cost was two of their top prospects in Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev.
Between losing those two and the graduation of other prospects in Juuse Saros and Pontus Aberg, the prospect pipeline has been depleted to be sure, but the Preds still boast plenty of promising youth.
2017-18 Top Nashville Predators Prospects
1. Eeli Tolvanen, LW – Jokerit (KHL)
Drafted: 30th overall in the first round of the 2017 draft by Nashville
The Preds got very lucky to have Tolvanen drop to them on draft day. Ranked higher in the draft than where Nashville selected him by several draft pundits such as Bob McKenzie who ranked him 17th, picking him at 30th is great value. Tolvanen was committed to play in the NCAA with Boston U and would have been with several other Nashville prospects in Patrick Harper, David Farrance, and Dante Fabbro, his academic credits didn’t translate. He ended up back home in Finland with Jokerit in the KHL. His pro debut was nothing short of spectacular as he was named Rookie of the Week five times between August and October and Rookie of the Month for September and October. He carried that momentum over into the World Junior with Finland scoring six points in five games. His KHL success as an 18-year-old shows he is ready to play in the NHL and could be in Nashville after the KHL season ends to give the Predators and added offensive punch for the playoffs.
2. Dante Fabbro, D – Boston U. (NCAA)
Drafted: 17th overall in the first round of the 2016 draft by Nashville
Fabbro had a good freshman season with the Terriers posting 18 points in 36 games. His D+1 year also included a spot with Canada at the World Junior and a Silver Medal. He has continued to improve his game and in a larger role with his club team. He has already eclipsed his freshman point total with 23 points in the first 27 games. Fabbro was a returning player with Canada in the 2018 WJC in Buffalo and claimed the Gold. Nashville has been synonymous with great defencemen and Fabbro is trending towards being the next one. He has good size, is an excellent skater, leadership and plays a strong two-way game. Fabbro may see another year of college hockey and perhaps some AHL seasoning, but has a high ceiling when he arrives.
3. Alexandre Carrier, D – Milwaukee (AHL)
Drafted: 115th overall by Nashville in the fourth round of the 2015 draft by Nashville
While Carrier may not have the same ceiling as Fabbro, he is arguably the Predators most NHL ready defenceman. Carrier is undersized at 5-11, but is a strong player and skater with a high compete level. He is a two-way player that produced offence at the junior level and has had some of that carry over to the pro level with 39 points in his rookie season last year in the AHL. Carrier made his NHL debut last year playing in two games with Nashville, and could easily make his return before the year ends.
4. Emil Pettersson, C – Milwaukee (AHL)
Drafted: 155th overall in the sixth round of the 2013 draft by Nashville
The older brother of Vancouver Canucks high profile prospect Elias Pettersson, Emil is a very underrated and quality prospect in his own right. After posting 26 points in 27 games in the SHL, Pettersson made the move to North America. He had a strong preseason and training camp with the Predators and as an AHL rookie, is second in team scoring. The knock on Pettersson is he needs to add some bulk and strength, but he has the skill to play in the NHL.
5. Patrick Harper, C – Boston U. (NCAA)
Drafted: 138th overall in the 2016 draft by Nashville
The Predators have a successful track record of finding value in the late rounds and they took a gamble on the very undersized Harper. In his D+1 year, Harper posted almost a point per game as a NCAA freshman with 37 points in 38 games. He was named to the USA WJC roster and won a Gold Medal. He returned the following year winning the Bronze playing a larger role, posting two goals and four points in seven games. Harper is quite small, but has the speed and hands that can overcome that obstacle. There is still some risk he does not crack the NHL, but if he does, it will be in a top-six role as he is a true boom or bust prospect.
6. Grant Mismash, C – University of North Dakota (NCAA)
Drafted: 61st overall in the second round of the 2017 draft by Nashville
Bound to be a Smashville sensation, Mismash plays a very heavy and physical game, but there is also an element of skill to his game as well. Mismash is not the greatest skater and could develop that element of his game to compete at the NHL level. Playing as a freshman in the NCAA, he is probably looking at a few more seasons of college before he turns pro. It may also take a transition year or two in the AHL before he begins wreaking havoc in the NHL.
7. Yakov Trenin, C – Milwaukee (NCAA)
Drafted: 55th overall in the second round of the 2015 draft by Nashville
Trenin is a big strong two-way player that plays like a tank at times. After two 60+ point seasons in the QMJHL with Gatineau where he was over a point per game player, Trenin is playing in his rookie AHL season and struggling to find his offensive game. Despite his offensive production in junior, Trenin projects as a bottom-six forward at the NHL level. He plays a strong defensive game, is physical, and can handle checking roles very successfully. He has some offensive upside in his game, but likely will never be a top-six option. Great floor, low ceiling type player.
8. Thomas Novak, C – University of Minnesota
Drafted: 85th overall in the third round of the 2015 draft by Nashville
Now in his junior season with Minnesota, Novak was limited to just 20 games in his sophomore season and fell of the radar somewhat. Now back and healthy, he has played in 28 games, posted only three goals but has 23 points. Novak has decent size, and has a high skills set and playmaking vision to be a productive playmaking center. Novak will need a season in the AHL to make the adjustment to the pro level if that happens next year or after his senior year.
9. Rem Pitlick, C – University of Minnesota
Drafted: 76th overall in the third round of the 2016 draft by Nashville
The son of former NHL defenseman Lance Pitlick is not an undersized player at 5-10 as he plays a hard game. He’s quick, has a high compete level, and is a skilled offensive player. In his sophomore with the Gophers his point per game production has taken a slight dip, but Pitlick contributes and can impact the game in more ways than just scoring. Pitlick could play another year or two in Minnesota before starting his pro career.
10. Victor Ejdsell, C/LW – HV71 (SHL)
Drafted: Signed as a free agent in 2017 by Nashville
The Preds signed the Big Swede after a breakout season in the Allsvenskan where he posted 25 goals and 57 points in 50 games and was named the forward of the year, and most valuable player. Now playing in his first year in the SHL, the Hulking forward is having another strong season. Ejdsell’s play possibly made a player like Vladislav Kamenev more expendable for the Turris trade. Look for Ejdsell to make the jump to North America next season and make the adjustment in the AHL with Milwaukee.