148th Overall: 5th-Round Options for Nashville

Where should Nashville go for their fifth pick?

Welcome to the third installment of my Nashville-specific draft preview targeting best-value options for the Predators at each of their seven picks this weekend in Vancouver. Below you can check out who I pegged for rounds six and seven:

210th Overall: 7th-Round Options for Nashville

179th Overall: 6th-Round Options for Nashville

Last week I ranked who I determined were the 93 best draft-eligible prospects for the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in a week in Vancouver. If you missed it, you can read those here, here, and here.

Finally, once again, my disclaimer about these players:

My method here is to identify players who I think will be available at this selection and who I think present the best value. Therefore, this exercise doesn’t account for the trading of any picks or the whims of other general managers. With several hundred draft-eligible players, it’s very likely none of these players end up being Nashville’s pick. Bear that in mind as you read further.

Juuso Parssinen

TPS U20 [Jr. A SM-liiga] - 2001 - LW - Hameenlinna, Finland

NHL Central Scouting Rank: 33rd - European Skaters

2018-19 Stats: 36 GP / 13 G / 9 A / 22 PTS

Parssinen just finished his first full season in the Jr. A Sm-liiga with TPS, finishing eighth on the team in scoring with 22 points (nearly everyone ahead of him in scoring is not draft eligible). Parssinen also played seven games in the Liiga with TPS, scoring one goal. He added two points in five games at the U18 World Junior Championships but came up empty in four games at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup for Finland.

Parssinen is a strong player down the middle of the ice and good at keeping puck battles in the circles after losing face-offs. Above, he pressures well on the penalty kill and eventually causes a turnover where he converts for a shorthanded goal.

Parssinen’s skating and awareness will translate well to an NHL penalty kill. I don’t think he has the tools to be an above-average player inside the face-off dots, but his game is sound overall.

Luka Burzan

Brandon Wheat Kings [WHL] - 2000 - C - Surrey, British Columbia

NHL Central Scouting Rank: 126th - North American Skaters

2018-19 Stats: 68 GP / 40 G / 38 A / 78 PTS

Burzan is similar to Kastelic in being a veteran player in the WHL and one that’s tough to evaluate. He just finished his third season in the league, besting his 2017-18 production by 25 goals and 38 points. But, again, you cannot discount goals and his 40 on the season had him tied for ninth league-wide. He was second on the Wheat Kings in scoring this season behind the Hurricanes’ Stelio Mattheos. After fitting a more defensive-minded role in Moose Jaw earlier in his WHL career, Burzan solidified the excellent start he had in Brandon last season as a star on offense this season.

Burzan shot at an 18.2% rate this season with 220 shots on net, scored 13 of his 40 goals on the power play, recorded only 10 secondary assists, and, remarkably, held himself to 10 penalty minutes all season.

Burzan doesn’t have elite speed, but he does have good crossover quickness and a wide base to power around defenders like you see above. He relies more on puck protection than deception with quick stick-handling, but it’s still quite effective.

Above is another example of that power in the offensive zone (Burzan is the main puck-carrier). You can see the tools and strength he has to be an effective 200-foot player and a tenacious forechecker.

Garrett Pinoniemi

Holy Family Catholic [USHS-MN] - 2001 - F - Mound, Minnesota

NHL Central Scouting Rank: 106th - North American Skaters

2018-19 Stats: 24 GP / 26 G / 40 A / 66 PTS

Pinoniemi is a late birthday who will turn 18 next month but finished fifth statewide in Minnesota high school scoring this season with 2.75 points per game. He will play one more season of high school in 2019 and then head to the University of Minnesota in 2020-21. He’s a project pick in that it will be at least three years before he hits the AHL (likely more), but he is loaded with skill.

Pinoniemi, #37 in white above, displays his excellent separation gear without using a strenuous skating stride. He’s got good hands and a good reach, but his best asset is his skating and acceleration out of crossover steps and transitions.

Ondrej Psenicka

HC Sparta Praha U19 [Czech U19] - 2001 - RW - Praha, Czechia

NHL Central Scouting Rank: 53rd - European Skaters

2018-19 Stats: 45 GP / 30 G / 40 A / 70 PTS

Psenick is a huge winger at 6’5” who led Sparta in scoring this season by six goals and 21 points; he was tied for fourth in league scoring, too. It’s kind of remarkable that Psenicka didn’t receive a call-up to the Czech Liga this season; during one stretch in January, he recorded 24 points in nine games.

Psenicka, #21 in red, displays some fairly astute forechecking despite his awkward stride—wingspans like his tend to come in handy. I really like the play he makes on the puck, chipping it quickly back to his teammate while tying up his opponent’s hands. He eventually cashes in the rebound for a goal.

Psenicka, #8 in white, actually has decent puck-handling skills, as displayed in the two clips above. He can be a patient player and afford to wait out defenders for passing and shooting lanes to open up. He needs maturation on the technical aspects of his skating and position, but 40 goals at that size is something to take notice of.

Honorable Mentions:

Christopher Merisier-Ortiz (D) - Baie-Comeau Drakkar [QMJHL] - 66 GP / 5 G / 33 PTS

Jake Lee (D) - Seattle Thunderbirds [WHL] - 67 GP / 3 G / 24 PTS

Xavier Simoneau (F) - Drummondville Voltigeurs [QMJHL] - 55 GP / 18 G / 57 PTS

Yannick Bruschweiler (LW) - GC Kusnacht Lions [NLB] - 32 TP / 11 G / 21 PTS

All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, whl.ca, and prospect-stats.com.