The draft was a fertile ground for the Predators this year, with four selections in the top 50 and a total of seven selections in the first 5 rounds.
With those selections, the Predators selected a defenseman with their first pick and went all forwards after that. Nashville went mostly for skill combined to grit and effort.
Here is a short review of the prospects selected by the Predators for the first 5 rounds:
15. Jake Bean
Smooth operator: terrific skater, calm demeanor and a great passing touch. He reads the play exceptionally well, usually making good decisions with the puck. He has good hands and can stickhandle in close with a very accurate shot. Needs to bulk up and simplify his game in his zone but has huge potential and upside.
18. Riley Tufte
Man-child: 6’5” frame that moves well around the ice. Likes to do power moves from the corners to the net. Possesses a very good shot with quick release. A bit raw and may require patience but ultimately could be the whole package: size, speed and scoring.
34. Will Bitten
The Will to succeed: never quit competitor combines passion with skills. Outstanding skater is one of the fastest in the draft, with multiple gears and top notch quickness. He has great hockey sense and good moves offensively. Has a slight frame for his style of play but gets around it with his intelligence in all three zones.
43. Carl Grundstrom
Grind Storm: feisty, chippy player with a lot of character and passion. Uses his smarts, his passion and strong work ethic to create scoring opportunities. Shows good mobility, likes to crash the crease and finish his checks hard. Could improve his decisions with the puck but plays a game that fits well in today’s NHL.
70. Matt Phillips
Mini-Gaudreau: pee-wee size 1st round talent. Elite offensive skills plays a quick, intelligent game. Fearless and goes anywhere on the ice at full speed. Smallest guy on the ice who needs to be better than the others to make up for it but has the skills to make it happen.
115. Brett Murray
Man-child #2: 6’5” frame with good skating stride and mobility. Plays a good north-south game that can support offense with soft hands. Big presence on the forecheck and in front of the net. Concussion problems at the end of the season cast a shadow on his future, but recovering should let him continue building his game.
136. Brandon Hagel
Late birth: a few more days would have made Hagel a 2017 eligible prospect only. Through hard work, Hagel was able to earn ice time on a deep Red Deer Rebels team. With his feet always moving and great decisions with and without the puck, he has the makings of a puck possession machine. Could develop his offensive skills further but has at least the makings of a great complimentary player.