While the big team is having an inconsistent start to the season, some young Predators in the making are already showing teeth. With just a quarter of the season behind, some young upcoming prospects are already showing promise.
In the WHL, Ty Rattie is coming strong out of the gates with 40 points in his first 24 games, including 21 goals, just 7 short from his 2010-2011 total. While Rattie was sometimes thought as being second fiddle to Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter last year, his play so far should dismiss all doubts about his ability to produce by himself. Marek Tvrdon is also proving himself as a legit threat with 30 points in 24 games so far, after having missed the bulk of 2010-2011 to injuries.
In the OHL, the biggest surprise comes from Zack Mitchell, an 8th round pick in the last draft. Mitchell has already surpassed his 2010-2011 numbers (19 points in 61 games) and currently sits at 27 points in 22 games. Passed over in the last draft, Mitchell stands a good chance of being selected this year if he can keep his torrid pace. Matt Puempel sits one point lower at 26 points in 23 games, which while adequate aren't figures that Nashville were looking for. Expect a boost from Puempel as the year goes on. Connor Murphy has yet to play a game this year but his return is highly anticipated to boost Sarnia. Otherwise Brett Findlay, another 8th round pick, started the year roaring but has settled down lately and sits at 23 points in 24 games.
In the QMJHL, Charles-Olivier Roussel is having a strong year with St.Johns. Already +22 in 20 games, he has also registered 17 points, just short of a point per game pace. Nashville also follows the progress of giant defenseman Konrad Abeltshauser, who has 16 points in 20 games and is playing a leading role for his team.
The last league from Canada where the Predators have prospects playing is the BCHL. Mario Lucia is playing a leading role on the best team, Penticton. His team currently sits with 18 wins, 3 losses and 2 OT losses and he has put up more than two points per game with 40 points in 19 games. Gaining speed is his teammate Steven Fogarty, who has been accumulating points at a faster pace of late. He has 30 points in 23 games after starting the year with less than a point per game past the ten game mark.
In the US, Justin Faulk has shown his great hockey sense and headiness so far this year and he seems to have an inside track on the 7th spot for Nashville next year on defense.
The Predators also drafted several players in the NCAA. Matt Nieto is surprising early in the year and could be the first US U-20 summer camp cut that succeeds in making the team regardless. He has been steady this year, with a production of 15 points in his first 11 games, including 8 goals. Beau Bennett and Jaden Schwartz are also playing well early, maintaining a pace about equivalent to Nieto's.