As NHL farm systems go, the Predators rank near the bottom of the league. It’s an understandable position for a win-now team to be in; draft picks that haven’t been traded for playoff or long-term help are usually on the lower side or fewer in number. Prospects themselves are also valuable trade chips—at the 2019 NHL trade deadline, the Predators flipped prospect Kevin Fiala to the Minnesota Wild in the trade that brought them Mikael Granlund.
This isn’t to say that the Predators don’t have valuable players in their system. Perhaps most notable is top prospect Eeli Tolvanen, who does still count as a prospect despite suiting up for four NHL games this season.
2018-19 Top 10 Nashville Predators Prospects
1. Eeli Tolvanen — LW/RW, Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
HT/WT: 5’10”/192 lbs
Drafted: 30th overall in the 1st round of the 2017 draft by Nashville
If you’re a Predators fan, it’s possible that you feel like it’s taking Eeli Tolvanen forever to get to the NHL. Would it be helpful to remind you it hasn’t even been two years since he was drafted? Tolvanen is only 19, and though he’s struggled a bit this season (he ended the season with 35 points in 58 AHL games) he’s still pretty early in his development.
This is his first full season in North America. Give him time—the offensively gifted 18-year-old who made the KHL All-Star Team last season is still in there, and it probably won’t be long before you see him in Predators gold full-time.
2. Dante Fabbro — D, Boston University (NCAA)
HT/WT: 6’0”/190 lbs
Drafted: 17th overall in the 1st round of the 2016 draft by Nashville
After finishing his junior year at Boston University, where he was one of two team captains of the Terriers, Fabbro promptly signed with the Predators. It was a no-brainer as Fabbro was coming off a strong college season that showcased his reliable, composed play at both ends of the ice as well as his ability to run a power play.
He was a valuable depth addition on the blue line in 10 games for the Predators, including six playoff games, and could start next season in the NHL with a strong training camp.
3. Anthony Richard — C/LW, Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
HT/WT: 5’10”/163 lbs
Drafted: 100th overall in the 4th round of the 2015 draft by Nashville
In Richard’s third year in the AHL, he’s matched his goal total and surpassed his full-season points total from last year in almost 20 fewer games.
His speed and high offensive skill level were likely what earned him his first call-up to the Predators in December, where he played one game before returning to the Admirals. He’s second on the team in points and is good depth on the wing for a Nashville team that may find themselves of cheap, productive depth players.
4. Frederic Allard — D, Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
HT/WT: 6’1”/179 lbs
Drafted: 78th overall in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft by Nashville
Despite a shoulder injury, Allard had a fairly solid season for the Admirals. He was likely their best defender, something that bodes well for him when it comes to the prospect of an injury call-up next season.
Allard could make the team on a full-time basis sooner than one might expect. Some of Allard’s key strengths include how often he shoots the puck and his creativity and offensive instincts.
5. Patrick Harper — C, Boston University (NCAA)
HT/WT: 5’7”/150 lbs
Drafted: 138th overall in the 5th round of the 2016 draft by Nashville
Harper had a bit of a rough year—at times it seemed like he couldn’t buy a bounce when it came to scoring goals—but his offensive skill hasn’t just up and disappeared.
Bouncing back from a mystery illness that derailed the end of his sophomore season took most of Harper’s junior year, but there were still flashes of the offensive creativity and skill that made him an attractive prospect in the first place.
Harper was named one of the Terriers’ assistant captains for next season, when his performance will likely play a vital role in whether or not the Predators choose to sign him to an entry-level contract.
6. Rem Pitlick — C, University of Minnesota (NCAA)
HT/WT: 5’9”/196 lbs
Drafted: 76th overall in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft by Nashville
Not only did Pitlick leave the Gophers to sign a two-year ELC with the Predators at the end of his junior season, he made his NHL debut at home in front of friends and family as the Predators beat the Minnesota Wild.
After three seasons of consistent scoring at the NCAA level, including leading the Gophers in scoring this season as well as last season, Pitlick should have a solid first AHL season next year.
Long-term, he certainly has the potential to be a contributor at the NHL level—he’s smart, he shoots the puck a lot, and his ability to read the ice allows him to make responsible plays in his own end.
7. Grant Mismash — C/LW, University of North Dakota (NCAA)
HT/WT: 6’0”/185 lbs
Drafted: 61st overall in the 2nd round of the 2016 draft by Nashville
Though Mismash suffered a knee injury in January against St. Cloud State University that was supposed to be season-ending (he saw limited playing time in three games in March), the forward remains a potential gem in the prospect pool.
His stat line at the end of the season left a lot to be desired, with Mismash totaling 10 points, including five goals, in 24 games, and he’s been passed by other more productive names on the Predators’ prospect list.
It’s important to note for context, though, that UND struggled as a team at times this season when it came to offensive production. The Predators’ front office will be watching carefully to see whether Mismash turns things around next season.
8. Yakov Trenin — C/LW, Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
HT/WT: 6’2”/201 lbs
Drafted: 55th overall in the 2nd round of the 2015 draft by Nashville
Trenin’s stat line of 33 points (including 14 goals) in 74 games with the Milwaukee Admirals this season may at first glance seem misleading. It certainly isn’t ideal, no matter how you slice it, even when taking Trenin’s past injuries and subsequent work to get back to his game into consideration.
If you look a little closer, however, you’ll find something of interest. Of those 33 points, 28 were primary points. Additionally, 12 of his 14 goals were scored at even-strength.
Much remains to be seen when it comes to Trenin and whether he’ll make the leap to the NHL, but there is still reason to hope.
9. David Farrance – D – Boston University
HT/WT: 5’11”/ 190 lbs
Drafted: 92nd overall in the 3rd round of the 2017 draft by Nashville
Farrance has shown marked improvement from last season to this one. In his sophomore season with the Boston University Terriers, Farrance was trusted on the top defensive pairing with fellow Predators prospect Dante Fabbro, playing against top competition. He ended the season with four goals and 20 points in 37 games.
Perhaps more notably, his defensive decision-making has improved considerably. While his agile skating, playmaking abilities, and skill with the puck are as sound as ever, the fact that he can be trusted more in his own end will no doubt go a long way with the Predators when evaluating his future with the organization.
10. Alexandre Carrier – D – Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
HT/WT: 5’11”/174 lbs
Drafted: 115th overall in the 4th round of the 2015 draft by Nashville
Carrier took a step back during the 2017-18 season, and while his offensive output improved this year, there are still reasons to believe he is more of liability in his own end than his peers. That’s not ideal for a defenseman.
Still, all is not lost—Carrier certainly still has NHL potential and could return for the 2019-20 season ready to step up and turn heads.
He’s got the tools, with great puck-moving skills and the ability to play on the power play, and he finished second among the team’s defensemen in primary points. He just needs to improve his play in his own end.