It was a busy draft for Nashville, especially in the late rounds. The Predators made one selection in each of the first four rounds, then three selections in the fifth round and finally five selections in rounds seven and eight.
In the first round, Nashville had the 10th selection. The Predators opted for Nick Suzuki, a puck hound with really soft hands. While he is excellent offensively, Suzuki also plays a responsible game and works hard on the backcheck.
Then at the end of the second round, the Preds opted for a goaltender. Usually, GM Tremblay doesn’t draft goaltenders too often and not in the top rounds. However, he couldn’t pass on Keith Petruzzelli: “the trend is definitely about bigger goaltenders that cover a lot of the net, which Petruzzelli massively brings at 6’6”. Despite his size, Petruzzelli is also athletic and moves well between the pipes.
In the third round, Nashville went for the draft hat-trick (forward, goaltender and defense) with the selection of Reilly Walsh. Walsh is the emblem of the new defender in the NHL: excellent skater that plays with pace and can transition the puck up the ice quickly.
As the draft progressed, the competition for talent was tough. Soon, the Predators “high impact” prospect list was shrinking again and again while the other savvy GMs of the NEFHL were snapping up talent. In the fourth round, the Predators went with a homerun type of pick they had planned to only do later. Nashville selected Kirill Slepets, an undersized forward that packs a punch. Slepets is a fast skater that plays an up-tempo offensive game with dazzling puck skills.
Predators had three picks in the fifth round. In that round, they went all overagers.
At the start of round five, Eetu Luostarinen was selected. It was his second year of eligibility by just two weeks, which doesn’t make him much older than many first year eligible players. A big forward with excellent skating, he has a good hockey IQ and plays an aggressive effective two-way game which made him stick with Kalpa in the Finnish Elite League.
Later in round five, the Predators went with Ty Lewis and Drake Rymsha.
Lewis is a good skater that uses his explosiveness to create scoring chances. He also has quick hands and a good shot which he likes to use. Lewis puts his skating to use as well in defensive situations which makes him a reliable player on the ice in all situations.
Rymsha had a good year after being injured in his first year of draft eligibility. Rymsha plays a complete game and was one of the best faceoff player in the OHL last year. On top of being a good two-way player, Rymsha also showed scoring prowess with 35 goals, matching Katchouk’s production (Katchouk went in the 2nd round last year).
Then in the late rounds (7th and 8th), Nashville made five selections: Radim Salda, Corey Andonovsky, Filip Larsson, Will Warm and Croix Evingson. At this point, most of these selections were lucky throws.
Radim Salda is probably the lowest risk prospect selected amongst the five. He is a steady two-way defenseman. Physical defender with size, he also has a smooth skating ability. He plays a smart offensive game and packs a big shot from the point. Usually makes the high percentage plays.
Corey Andonovsky is a boom or bust type of pick. His biggest asset is his terrific skating which makes him an explosive player on offense. Makes plays at top speed but needs to prove himself against tougher competition.
Filip Larsson is an overage goalie that plays a calm and controlled game. With his large frame and good rebound control, he is the kind of goaltender that NHL teams are craving.
Will Warm is an offensive defenseman that played on a weak WHL team. He plays an aggressive game that creates offensive opportunities for his team, whether it’s through nifty pinches or passing. His mobility and heads up play lets him transition the puck effectively or man the powerplay.
Croix Evingson is an overager who dominated a lower league last year. At 6’5, he plays a physical game but at the same time displays impressive poise with the puck in the offensive zone.
The overall make-up for the Predators draft consists of four CHLers (2 in the OHL, 2 in the WHL), four heading the NCAA’s route and four players from Europe. In total, six forwards were selected, four defensemen and 2 goaltenders. This is probably the most balanced draft Nashville has done through the years.
In an alternate reality, GM Tremblay believes that Suzuki, Petruzzelli, Walsh and Luostarinen will all be selected by NHL teams. Slepets and Lewis are likely selections as well but they could get passed over. The others might not be selected but GM Tremblay expects at least two out of Rymsha, Salda, Andonovsky, Warm and Evingson should see their names called on draft day. Larsson was already selected in 2016.