UGG Baratas online. Australia UGGs Outlet España.

Your #1 Source for Nashville Predators News, Updates, and Opinions – A Nashville Predators Blog

Jones-ing for Prospects, a Nashville Predators Draft Review

Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua

Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua

If my hunch is correct, many of you are likely surprised to find me writing so soon after the draft. Perhaps you’re shocked that I’m even able to face the harsh light of day, assuming that I would be seeking refuge in some dark sea cave, whittling figurines of Jonathan Drouin, Nathan Mackinnon, and Aleksander Barkov while babbling incoherently and occasionally pausing to shove live clams into my mouth.

Well, you’re not far off…but I AM writing!

In truth, I’m disappointed. There’s no way around that. I’ve been writing for months that this draft was going to be a chance to obtain the long-elusive franchise forward. The storyline of the draft was so scripted, so preordained for so long that it was inconceivable that the Predators would not come away with one of Barkov or Drouin. I joked darkly that if the Avalanche didn’t take Jones, he was very likely going to fall to Nashville at the fourth selection. While I feared that it could happen, I didn’t really believe that it would. That’s what I get, I guess.

I don’t want to waste a blog on whining, nor do I want to mis-characterize my feelings on drafting Jones. At the end of the day, I’m okay with it. There really wasn’t another move to make. I couldn’t have stomached taking Jones if one of the “big three” forwards was still available, but that was out of the Predators’ hands. Taking any of the other forwards at four was likely a reach, and if there wasn’t an overwhelming offer to move down, taking Jones and setting up the best top four in the league was the right thing to do. I have some reservations–I can’t magically make those go away. I’m also slightly concerned that three teams ahead of the Predators moved Jones down their board, but he remained at number one for David Poile. I hope, more than anything, to eat crow on this one.

That’s all I can really say on the matter. A defensive unit that was short a man in the top four is now stacked up. I will remain concerned about where the offense is going to come from, especially with a lean free agent class and relatively little in the way of tradeable assets, but I’ll step back and watch how it pans out. All anyone can do.

So, what did the Predators bring home from a draft considered by many to be of “legendary” status?

At first glance, a curiously thin haul.

I’m not a professional scout, nor do I have the credentials of the guys getting paid a lot of money to select these players. I’m strictly amateur, and most of my viewings are of the streamed-over-the-internet variety. However, I do like to think that I have an above-average exposure to draft eligible players, going out of my way to see as many games and players as possible. My previous post had seven rounds worth of picks, so I have at least a reasonable amount of familiarity. The fact that the Predators selected several players that I had not only never seen, but never even HEARD of…well, hopefully this is a Rinne/Hornqvist type of situation. Nonetheless, I’ve spent the night and morning doing some research, and I’ll try to break down each player and what to expect.

I’ll skip Seth Jones, simply because everyone knows what he’s about, and I’ve already profiled him to an extent. The rest of the players aren’t so familiar to most Predators fans, so that’s where I’ll focus.

Jonathan-Ismael Diaby – Victoriaville Tigres – D – 64 (Rd 3)

This is one of the picks that I did like, and I’m pretty familiar with Diaby. His size (6’5, 230) speaks for itself. While I didn’t foresee Jones being selected, I was hoping the Predators would pick up a couple physical stay-at-home types to balance out some of the smaller puck-moving defensemen in the system. Diaby is the perfect fit. Skates pretty well for his size, delivers some nice checks, and isn’t afraid to drop the gloves. Kind of reminds me of a more mobile Hal Gill. Good value at this spot.

Felix Girard – Baie-Comeau Drakkar – C – 95 (Rd 4)

I’ve seen Girard play, but not a whole lot. Undrafted in his first year of eligibility, he had a pretty solid offensive year in 2012/13. Scouting reports describe him as a “anything to win” type of player; a character forward that Nashville loves going after. He actually reminds me of Gabriel Bourque. While Bourque was a little more on the radar (he played on the Canadian WJC team the year after being drafted) and is likely a little more skilled, Girard has potential as a role playing bottom six forward in the NHL.

Juuse Saros – HPK Jr – G – 99 (Rd 4)

Possibly my favorite selection of the draft. The Predators are cutting ties with Jeremy Smith so there was a need for a goaltender in the system. I saw Saros play at the U-18 World Championship with Finland, and my reaction was “who is THAT?” He breaks the mold of the Scandinavian giants that the Predators typically go after in goal, but he reminds me a lot of a former Predator goaltender– Tomas Vokoun.

He can’t rely on his size to take away net for opponents to shoot at, but his agility, athleticism, and speed are off the charts. I think this could be one of those “how did he fall that far” picks, in a few years. To put it in perspective– the only goaltender that I liked better in the entire draft was Zach Fucale, who was rated to go in the first round. Exciting pick.

Saku Maenalanen – Karpat Jrs – LW – 125(Rd 5)

I’ll just be totally honest…I’ve never heard of this guy. He was unranked by Central Scouting until midterm, when he was rated as 130th European skater. Needless to say, this was a bit of a “left-field” pick from Finnish juniors. There’s not a lot of information out there about him, but what I could find describes him as a big, strong-skating utility player with a little bit of skill. Plays a little bit in all situations, killing penalties and also put up decent numbers on the power play. Predators Finnish scout Janne Kekalainen feels like he could be a top-9 forward in the NHL. Time will tell.

Teemu Kivihalme – Burnsville HS(MN) – D – 140(Rd 5)

I’m only a little familiar with Kivilhalme, an American-raised Finn. I came across his name quite a bit over the course of the last few months as a riser with potential. He’ll play for a good program at Colorado College starting in the fall of 2014. He’s a two-way defenseman with fantastic skating ability and offensive instincts. With that said, he is *small,* at 5’11 and only 160 pounds. If he can bulk up a bit, he could be a Kimmo Timonen type of defenseman. He’s a bit of a project, but…you have to love a kid named after Teemu Selanne, right?

Emil Pettersson – Timra Jrs – C – 155(Rd 6)

A nice pick in the sixth round, I felt the same way about this pick that I did when the Predators took Chase Balisy in the same place a couple of years ago, and players like Cal O’Reilly, Patric Cehlin, and Patrick Jarrett in the past. Pettersson is a mobile, playmaking center with a nice amount of skill. If he can overcome his slight size, this might be a home-run pick. Or…he could be an absolutely irrelevant player that never sets foot in North America.  If that’s the case–it’s a sixth round pick. A worthwhile gamble at this spot.

Tommy Veilleux – Victoriaville Tigres – LW – 171(Rd6)

Not overly familiar with Veilleux. The Predators were inspired by the play of Andrew Shaw in the playoffs this year and hope Veilleux can be that sort of gritty role player with offensive pop. At first glance, I don’t see the “offensive” pop that Shaw displayed with Owen Sound while in juniors–instead, I just see an enforcer, but time will tell.

Wade Murphy – Penticton Vees – W – 185(Rd7)

Have never seen Murphy play, but I spoke to a friend who covers college hockey prospects, of which Murphy is a North Dakota commit. He feels that this could be another “steal” pick.  Playing in the BCHL as a 19 year old, he was likely overlooked a bit by scouts, but my research suggests that his hockey sense and skills are both highly regarded. Not an immediate impact player, but four years with a top-flight program like the Fighting Sioux could polish this player into a gem.

Janne Juvonen – Pelicans – G – 203(Rd7)

Another player that I (and most) had never heard of. Juvonen was completely off the board, not even ranked by Central Scouting. Kekalainen describes him as a Rinne/Lindback type of situation– there wasn’t much of an opportunity to scout him, but when they could, they came away impressed with his potential. A Finnish source said that he got some playing time at the top tier in Finland, the SM-Liiga, with the Pelicans due to injury, and played extremely well as a 17 year old.