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What to expect from the Predators at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft

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Jun 27, 2014


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Nashville has plenty to think about over the next few hours leading up to the first round of the draft. For the Predators, there are a number of roads they can conceivably cross on their way to the 11th overall section. However, the question that I think is the most accurate question of all is: will the Nashville Predators even select at number 11?

It’s a fair question to ask. David Poile has already been approached by a small handful of teams inquiring about their first round draft choice. While his demands are simple, a top-six forward, it’s safe to assume that Poile won’t budge unless he gets exactly what he wants. That’s not to say, though, that the Predators won’t trade that choice before the clock starts on their selection. Yet, it would be new territory for Poile to trade away his top pick on draft day itself in exchange for a player, something he’s never done with Nashville.

Again, that’s not to say it won’t happen. The circumstances surrounding this draft for Nashville are far different than any other draft that the organization has experienced prior. For the first time in franchise history, there are new faces behind the bench for the Predators. Peter Laviolette will bring all of his guidance, for better or worse, to a team that’s been shut away from the playoffs for the last two seasons straight. Also, I believe Poile may be finding himself in a “do or die” scenario this year, where his only grading scale will be pass or fail.

While the organization has been proactive in re-signing their backup goaltender, Carter Hutton, for relief duty of a now-healthy Pekka Rinne, they’ve been otherwise quiet. It’s of my opinion that this will change, perhaps starting tonight.

The perfect scenario for the Predators would be to package up the 11th overall selection in the first round with a current roster player, as there is no way the 11th overall pick will be enough in and of itself, in return for a top-six forward and buy their way back into the first round using their dual second round choices. With Nashville having the 42nd and 46th overall picks, those being in the second round, they could be very enticing to a team on the tail end of the opening round to make a deal and switch out with the Predators. Ten days ago he spoke about this exact scenario, noting the possibilities all depend on who’s available on the board:

“What I’ve been approached upon the most at the GM meetings is the fact we have two second round picks and some teams that have later first round picks have asked whether we had some interest based on who might be available at that time to trade two seconds for a first round pick. So those would be something that could be done right at the table. There is always the possibility that I would trade the first round pick, I’ve made that open to some people that have talked. This would be for a top forward, if we could do that. I’m not predicting that that will happen, I’m just saying that if somebody had that top-six forward, I would certainly consider trading our first round pick.”

Just for speculation purposes, some names to consider when you think of Nashville trading for a top-six forward would be: Jason Spezza, James Neal, Loui Eriksson, Ryan Kesler. Again, that is pure speculation and I have zero reason to believe that the Predators are targeting any of those named players, but in my eyes they would fit well with the return and what Nashville is looking for.

Also, in the case of Jason Spezza and his reported list of teams he won’t be traded to, that’s not to say that can not be adjusted. Granted, it’s all at the will of the player and reportedly he added Nashville to his list of no-trade teams. Ottawa could very easily speak to him and ask him to adjust his list, as he most likely filled out his list prior to last season.

However, if the Predators actually hold on to the 11th pick, which could be the case if Poile doesn’t like what he hears from other teams, Nashville’s plans will be the same as every other draft they’ve been to: take the best player available in the draft. Could that be a forward or a defenseman? With the 11th pick, it could be either. For Poile, though, it’s not a stretch to say that he’s quite calm and calculated in any move he makes, especially at the Draft. I wouldn’t expect him to make a rash decision and settle for something less than what he wants.