2011 Nashville Predators Development Camp Primer - Goalies & Defensemen

The 2011 Nashville Predators Development Camp has its first public on-ice session on Wednesday, so in order to get you ready, Seth has prepared a primer on who watch, and what to look out for. Feel free to print this out and take it with you to the rink. - Dirk

Follow after the jump for all the details, starting today with coaches, goalies and defesemen...

Coaching Staff

Lane Lambert - Nashville Predators Assistant Coach
Lambert will be at his first camp as a member of Barry Trotz's staff after spending the past 5 seasons coaching with the Milwaukee Admirals.  Due to the extended coaching search for his replacement, Lambert is sure to play a vital role leading this camp before Kirk Muller truly takes the reins of the prospects at the start of training camp in the fall.

Martin Gelinas - Nashville Predators Director of Player Development
The long-time NHL'er and former Predator, Martin Gelinas will once again prove that he could still be playing NHL hockey if he wanted to be.  Despite retiring two seasons ago, Gelinas remains in incredible shape and is responsible for keeping tabs on all of our prospects during the season.  He will be a very active participant in running the camp and will frequently be seen jumping into a drill or challenging a player to a race.  Keep an eye on him, he's a ton of fun to watch and the players and coaches on the ice all respect his input. 

Kirk Muller -Milwaukee Admirals Head Coach
Named as the Admirals head coach just hours before the camp started Monday night, Muller likely will spend most of his time evaluating the prospects this week more than leading the camp.  You will likely see him both on the ice and in the stands and I wouldn't put it past him to be leading drills this week.  Like Gelinas, Muller was a 19 year NHL veteran and has spent the past five seasons as an assistant coach in the NHL with Montreal.

Ian Herbers -Milwaukee Admirals Assistant Coach
After spending two seasons as a head coach in the ECHL, Herbers replaced Brad Lauer as Lambert's assistant in Milwaukee two years ago.  Herbers was a candidate to replace Lambert as Milwaukee's head coach before Muller was named to the position on Monday.  Coach Herbers is under contract to the Ads for one more season and by all appearances will serve as Muller's assistant next season.

Mitch Korn -Nashville Predators Goaltenders Coach
A true innovator, Mitch Korn is one of the most respected goalie coaches in the business and a great person on and off the ice.  Korn will be leading all goaltender drills and be evaluating and working with the goalies throughout the week.  Be sure to get to camp early or stay late to try to catch a goalie's only session.  Korn loves to bring out his wide array of props to challenge the netminders and improve their skills.  It's truly an interesting thing to watch. 

Ben Vanderklok - Nashville Predators Assistant Goaltenders Coach
Coach Vanderklok is in his third season with the Predators as Mitch Korn's assistant and is responsible during the season for working with the goaltenders in Milwaukee and Cincinnati.  Vanderklok also serves as the head goaltender coach for the Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL) during the year and runs camps throughout the year.

Goaltenders

 

#36 Magnus Hellberg

6'5", 185 lbs - Age 20

 

What you need to know:
The first pick of the Predators in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft last weekend (2nd round, 38th overall), Hellberg comes to his first camp with the Predators looking to remind folks of current Predators netminders Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback not only with his frame, but also his playing style.  One of the fastest rising prospects in the draft during the past year, Hellberg was not ranked by Central Scouting at the midterm rankings, but finished the season as the 2nd rated European goalie and wound up being the first goalie selected in his draft class.  Hellberg got the majority of the starts last season for Almtuna in Sweden's 2nd Division posting an impressive 2.04 GAA and .936 save percentage in 31 games.  Hellberg was also recalled to IFK Kumla in Sweden's 1st Division for 3 games last season where he had a 2.01 GAA and .938 save percentage. 

Where he will play in 2011-12:
Hellberg signed a two-year contract with Frolunda in the Swedish Elite League in April and is scheduled to play there next season unless things change on the goaltender front here in Nashville or Milwaukee.

 

#37 Chet Pickard

6'2", 206 lbs - Age 21

 

What you need to know:
A 1st round pick in 2008, Pickard was once the franchise goalie of the future in the organization but that is no longer the case.  After a rookie year plagued by inconsistency in Milwaukee, Pickard again started the season last year with the Admirals where he continued a winless streak that eventually ended after 18 games over the course of 9 months.  Pickard was sent to Cincinnati in the ECHL to try to regain his confidence, but things got worse there due to a self-admitted ego and attitude problem.  Chet spent the majority of the season in Cincinnati where he posted a 9-14-3 record in 29 games with a 3.39 GAA and a .877 save percentage before getting recalled to Milwaukee at the end of the season to backup Jeremy Smith when Mark Dekanich was lost due to injury.  Upon the arrival of Atte Engren from Finland, Pickard dropped again on the depth charts and was eventually recalled to Nashville during the Predators playoff run to provide relief to Rinne and Lindback during practices and get a chance to work with Mitch Korn.  All is not lost yet for Pickard, but especially with the drafting of another goalie this past weekend it's looking more and more like a make it or break it year for the once-promising prospect. 

Where he will play in 2011-12:
Pickard has said a lot of the right things in interviews since hitting rock bottom in the ECHL, but it's up to him to earn a spot once again up the depth charts in Milwaukee.  Jeremy Smith has one of the two jobs locked up for the Admirals and Chet will have to fight with Atte Engren for the second spot in Milwaukee during training camp in the fall or face the possibility of returning once again to Cincinnati.  This week provides Pickard with a great opportunity to start earning his redemption and get a leg up on Engren heading into training camp this fall. 

 

#30 Jeremy Smith

6'0", 173 lbs - Age 22

 

What you need to know:
After hitting rock bottom himself in juniors the year after he was drafted (2nd round, 54th overall in 2008), Jeremy Smith has earned his way into tentatively being the No. 3 goalie on the Predators depth chart and the starter in Milwaukee heading into the season.   As a rookie, Smith spent the 2009-10 season in Cincinnati (ECHL) where he split starts with and eventually earned the starting role from Montreal prospect Robert Mayer culminating with a Kelly Cup Championship and sharing co-Playoff MVP honors with Mayer.  Jeremy again started last season assigned to the ECHL, but quickly was promoted back to Milwaukee when Pickard struggled at the start of the year.  It was an opportunity that he ceased and never looked back on.  Smith served as the backup to AHL All-Star Mark Dekanich for most of the season getting spot starts until Dekanich was injured late in the season and thrust Smith straight into the fire.  Smith went on to post a 16-8-2 record in 28 regular season games with a 2.26 GAA and .921 save percentage to help lead Milwaukee to the Division title and continued his strong play into the playoffs starting all 13 playoff games for the Ads and getting them into the second round with a 2.28 GAA and .931 save percentage. 

Where he will play in 2011-12:
Jeremy Smith will start next season in Milwaukee and depending on the outcome of free agency this summer will likely be penciled in as the starter for the Admirals to start the season. 

Defensemen

 

#75 Taylor Aronson

6'1", 205 lbs - Age 19

 

What you need to know:
Drafted in the 3rd round by the Predators in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, California native Taylor Aronson attended Prospect Camp last season but was unable to participate in the on-ice portion of the event due to a shoulder injury he suffered during the WHL playoffs.  Aronson returned to the Portland Winterhawks (WHL) for his second season of junior hockey this year and improved slightly on his offensive statistics from his rookie year by posting 37 points (5g, 32a) and 81 PIM in 71 games this season.  Taylor's greatest statistical improvement though occurred in his plus/minus rating where he went from a +13 in his first year to a +36 rating - good for 2nd best on the Winterhawks. 

Playing Style:
Aronson is known as a two-way defenseman with good offensive instincts.

Where he will play in 2011-12:
While Aronson's birthday would allow him to start the year in the AHL (all players from a CHL league must turn 20 by December 31st, 2011 or return to juniors), due to the depth on the blue line this season slated for Milwaukee and Aronson's remaining junior eligibility, it is likely that Aronson will be re-assigned to Portland (WHL) for the 2011-12 season although a good camp could change things.

 

#64 Victor Bartley

6'0", 203 lbs - Age 23

 

What you need to know:
After a successful junior career that culminated by scoring 46 points in 72 games and serving as team captain for the Regina Pats in the 2008-09 season, Victor Bartley spent time with both Providence and Bridgeport in the American Hockey League (AHL) and with the Utah Grizzlies in the ECHL before suffering a season ending injury during the 2009-10 season.  As a free agent last season, Bartley jumped overseas to play with Rogle in the Swedish 2nd Division where he was one of the league's top defensemen scoring 34 points (11g, 23a) in 52 games.  Bartley was scheduled to play in the Swedish Elite League for the upcoming season before signing a two-year contract with the Predators on May 24th.

Playing Style:
Bartley is an offensively skilled two-way defenseman that is known as a good skater and physical.

Where he will play in 2011-12:
Signed to a two-way contract, Bartley is expected to start the season in Milwaukee and provide depth for the Predators if the need arises.

 

#61 Anthony Bitetto

6'1", 210 lbs - Age 20

 

What you need to know:
Drafted in the 6th round last summer, Anthony Bitetto will be attending his first prospect camp after starting his collegiate career at Northeastern University last season.  Bitetto, drafted from the Indiana Ice of the USHL, recovered from an early season off-ice incident to lead all Northeastern defensemen in scoring and PIM's this season with 20 points (3g, 17a) and 66 PIM in 38 games. 

Playing Style:
Bitetto is known as a physical two-way defenseman with a big shot from the point.

Where he will play in 2011-12:
Bitetto will return to Northeastern University for his sophomore season.  Who his coach will be though is currently up in the air after Greg Cronin was hired as an assistant coach by the Toronto Maple Leafs last week. 

 

#70 Mattias Ekholm

6'4", 204 lbs - Age 21

 

What you need to know:
A 4th round pick in 2009, Mattias Ekholm returns to prospect camp after signing a 3 year entry level contract with the Predators in May.  Playing in his first year in the Swedish Elite League last season, Ekholm won Rookie of the Year honors scoring 33 points (11 g, 22a) in 55 games with Brynas.  Ekholm also appeared in 16 games for Team Sweden during international play last season where he was named top defenseman in two tournaments and elevated his status to being one of the top prospects in the Nashville organization. 

Playing Style:
Ekholm is an smooth skating all-around defenseman who had a breakout offensive season last year in Sweden. 

Where he will play in 2011-12:
After signing his contract in May, Ekholm has committed to coming over to North America for the 2011-12 season.  It is his hope that he will make the Predators out of training camp, but it is likely that he at least starts the season in Milwaukee with the Admirals. 

 

#49 Ryan Ellis

5'10", 179 lbs - Age 20

 

What you need to know:
Ryan Ellis wrapped up what some consider to be one of the most successful junior careers ever by a defenseman last season by serving as team captain of the Windsor Spitfires and Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, setting the all-time record for points by a defenseman in Windsor team history, and being named both CHL Defenseman of the Year and Player of the Year after scoring 100 points (24g, 76a) in 58 regular season games all while playing over 35 minutes a night for the Spitfires.  At the end of the season, Ellis won the Mickey Renaud Memorial Trophy for his leadership skills.  Of all the accolades Ellis has earned over the course of his junior career, the Renaud trophy had a special meaning for Ryan as it is named in memory of his former teammate who served as the team captain in Windsor during Ellis' rookie season before dying unexpectedly in the summer. 

At the end of his junior campaign, Ellis immediately began his professional career by joining the Milwaukee Admirals during their playoff run appearing in 7 games where he scored 2 points (1g, 1a) and displayed a great sense of calm with the puck on his stick and tremendous instincts reading the play away from the puck as well.  Ryan Ellis is a special player and one to definitely keep an eye on at camp this week. 

Playing Style:
It is no secret, Ryan Ellis is an offensive defenseman that is a elite power play quarterback and has a cannon for a shot.  He has displayed better defensive instincts each season since being drafted, but will have to prove he can handle things at his own end of the rink at the professional level before earning a spot in Nashville. 

Where he will play in 2011-12:
Ellis earned serious consideration from the Predators last season to stay in Nashville at the start of the year.  It's up to him this week to setup what could be an opportunity to earn a roster spot in Nashville during training camp.  Remember, Ellis did play in Milwaukee at the end of last season...is that going to be enough to satisfy the organizational mantra of "the road to Nashville begins in Milwaukee"?  Only time will tell...

 

#82 Jeff Foss

6'2", 200 lbs - Age 22

 

What you need to know:
A 6th round pick in 2008, Jeff Foss has spent the past four years honing his craft and getting a great education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in upstate New York.  Foss set career highs in all offensive categories last season at RPI scoring 14 points (3g, 11a) in 38 games before joining Milwaukee at the end of the season where he had one assist in five games.  Foss did not appear for the Admirals during their playoff run.

Playing Style:
Foss is a straight up defensive defenseman who is at his best in his own end, but effective at making a breakout pass.

Where he will play in 2011-12:
Signed to an AHL contract by the Admirals, Foss will likely attend Predators training camp in the fall as an invitee.  There is a good amount of depth heading to Milwaukee though with NHL contracts this season so the onus is on Foss to earn a spot in Milwaukee or face the possibility of spending time in the ECHL with Cincinnati during his rookie season. 

#59 Roman Josi

6'2", 198 lbs - Age 21

What you need to know:
The Predators 2nd round pick in 2008, Roman Josi made his North American debut last season with the Admirals finishing as Milwaukee's fourth leading scorer during the regular season with 40 points (6 g, 34a) in 69 games.  Josi added to his offensive totals appearing in all 13 of the Admirals playoff games and registering 7 points (1g, 6a).  

Playing Style:
Josi is a smooth skating two-way defenseman that has elite playmaking skills and enjoys rushing the puck up the ice and leading offensive attacks.

Where he will play in 2011-12:
A team worst -7 plus/minus rating during the regular season and concerns regarding durability must still be addressed before Josi sees time in Nashville.  Roman Josi will be penciled in to the Admrials lineup to start the season pending training camp in the fall. 

 

#44 Simon Karlsson

6'2", 178 lbs - Age 17

 

What you need to know:
Honestly, not much is known yet about Simon Karlsson the Predators 5th round selection in this past weekend's draft.  Karlsson played throughout the Malmo Junior system last season scoring 34 points in 55 games at four different levels of hockey.  In the past 12 months, Karlsson has grown from 5'11 to 6'2" and is working on filling out his frame to adapt to his new body.   

Playing Style:
Predators European scout Lucas Bergman compared Karlsson to Cody Franson this past weekend in terms of his game and size.  Karlsson is an offensive defenseman.

Where he will play in 2011-12:
Karlsson will return to Sweden to continue his development next season in the Malmo program looking to earn a full-time spot on their team in the Allsvenskan (which is the SEL's version of the AHL) before hopefully making the jump to the Swedish Elite League. 

 

#43 Garrett Noonan

6'0", 205 lbs - Age 20

 

What you need to know:
Drafted in the 4th round of last weekend's NHL Entry Draft by the Predators, Massachusetts native Garrett Noonan recently completed his freshman season at Boston University by scoring 15 points (4g, 11a) in 38 games.  Prior to joining the Terriers, Noonan played in the BCHL for the Vernon Vipers program.  He can be followed on Twitter at @GarrettNoonan13.

Playing Style:
Noonan is a two-way defenseman with developing offensive skill. 

Where he will play in 2011-12:
Noonan will return to Boston University for his sophomore season under the guidance of legendary BU coach Jack Parker and will also garner attention from Predators management as both Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty and Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton are based in Massachusetts. 

 

#54 Charles-Olivier Roussel

6'1", 201 lbs - Age 19

 

What you need to know:
A 2nd round pick in 2009, Roussel has been one of the youngest players at both prospect camps he's attended thus far.  After starring for 3 season with Shawingan (QMJHL) at both ends of the rink, Roussel was traded to his hometown Montreal Juniors (QMJHL) last season where he struggled at the start of the year and eventually settled into a more defensive role with the Juniors seeing his point total drop from 51 to 30 points last season.  After Montreal was eliminated from the QMJHL playoffs, Roussel joined Milwaukee where he practiced with the team, but did not play. 

Playing Style:
Roussel's playing style was compared to Shea Weber and Dion Phaneuf when he was drafted, however his role changed last season in Montreal and he will have to re-establish himself this year as he begins his pro career.

Where he will play in 2011-12:
After playing 4 seasons of junior hockey, Roussel will begin his professional career this season in Milwaukee although due to the depth at his position he will have to earn a spot with the Admirals at training camp and throughout the start of the season or face the possibility of starting his career in the ECHL if he cannot re-find the form that made him a 2nd round pick just two years ago.   

 

#83 Scott Valentine

6'2", 201 lbs - Age 20

 

What you need to know:
A former 6th round pick of the Anaheim Ducks, Scott Valentine comes to camp as an free agent invitee after rejecting the Ducks contract offer last month.   Valentine had a breakout year for the Oshawa Generals (OHL) last season scoring 36 points (4g, 32a) and racking up 106 PIM's in 62 games last season.

Playing Style:
Valentine was drafted as a mean stay-at-home defenseman, but has improved his offensive game the past two seasons.

Where he will play in 2011-12:
That's really up to Valentine.  As a free agent he can attend multiple camps this summer and will hope to garner interest from NHL teams and parlay that into a contract or training camp invite.  This will be Valentine's first NHL camp of the summer.

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