Last night against the Wild, the Predators played a game that was very important to their dwindling playoff hopes. If they won they would have held the Wild to fifty-three points on the season and kept them within six points; essentially it was a four-point night. Seeing as the Preds didn't win, fans are looking towards the future now more than ever.
The Predators need help badly right now and, providing they don't trade their pick for immediate help, they could find it in this upcoming draft. The biggest flaw in the Predators game has been the ability to put the puck in the back of the net and there are several picks in the first round that can do that very well. Because of this dire need for scoring, I have chosen to only go over the forwards in this segment. But, in case we have a Seth Jones situation in the first round and because the Predators could very well pick a defenseman in the second round, I will provide profiles for defenseman in the coming weeks. For now, here are a few players to keep an eye on prior to the draft.
1) Sam Reinhart (C)
Stats (Kootenay Ice (WHL)): 34 GP, 18 G, 35 A, 53 P, 2 PIM, +7
Stats (Canada U20 (WJC)): 7 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 P, 0 PIM, +3
Sam Reinhart is the best all around player in the draft and he's a great fit for Nashville. He can dish the puck, he can score, and he is a leader. He is coming of a solid World Junior championship for Canada and he is expected to be one of the top picks in the draft, if not the number one pick in the draft. He fell to three today in the Central Scouting midseason rankings but if last year's draft showed us anything, its that a number one center is valued much more over a number one winger.
2) Sam Bennett (LW)
Stats (Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)): 40 GP, 26 G, 40 A, 66 P, 85 PIM, +26
Craig Button recently said, "Sam Bennet is showing why he deserves to be in the conversation for first overall." He is a very energetic, very skilled, winger who displays a constant effort. Central scouting has him as the number one North American skater.
3) Leon Draisaitl (C/LW)
Stats (Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)): 35 GP, 19 G, 35 A, 54 P, 18 PIM, +2
Stats (Germany U20 (WJC)): 5 GP, 2 G, 2 A, 4 P, 52 PIM, -2
Draisaitl is one of my most favorite players in the draft. His vision is his most important asset but he works hard, uses his size well, and can be both a setup man and a scorer. He was one of Germany's top players in the World Junior Championship.
4) Michael Dal Colle (C/LW)
Stats (Oshowa Generals (OHL)): 43 GP, 27 G, 37 A, 64 P, 30 PIM, +9
The best description for Michael Dal Colle is he is a "bull" on the ice (Elite Prospects.) He's got a powerful stride and he is very aggressive with the puck. I expect Dal Colle will be a top five pick in the draft.
5) Nick Ritchie (LW)
Stats: (Peterborough Petes (OHL)) 36 GP, 19 G, 17 A, 36 P, 79 GP, -8
Nick Ritchie is a big power-forward who battles for the puck and has very good speed. He's put up decent numbers despite battling through injuries and playing on one of the lower ranked teams in the OHL.
6) Brendan Perlini (LW)
Stats (Niagra Ice Dogs (OHL)): 42 GP, 28 G, 32 A, 60 P, 22 PIM, -3
Perlini is an unselfish player who works hard, is fast, and has a good shot. He is another one of those players who has been able to put up a lot of points. Fun fact: he was born in Guildford, Great Britain.
7) Kasperi Kapanen (RW/LW)
Stats (KalPa (Sm Liiga)): 28 GP, 4 G, 4 A, 8 P, 6 PIM, +2
Kasperi Kapanen, son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen, is a slippery offensive player who has a great shot. The top ranked European skater on Central Scouting was expected to play for team Finland in the World Junior Championships until he got hurt.
8) William Nylander Altelius (F)
Stats (Rögle (Allveskan)): 18 GP, 4 G, 4 A, 8 P, 10 PIM, 0
Stats (Modo (SHL)): 11 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, 2 PIM, -1
At the beginning of the year, William Nylander was projected go in the top three, if not first overall. So far he has had a very disappointing year and, because of this, wasn't even considered for team Sweden in the World Junior Championship. He still has a lot of potential and can stick handle in a phone booth and bring you off your seats but he'll need to bulk up and play better defensively in order to start to do anything in the SHL, let alone the NHL. Because he was so highly touted, however, it might be interesting to see if he can make some sort of comeback in the second half of the season.
9) Adrian Kempe (C)
Stats (Modo (SHL)): 28 GP, 2 G, 5 A, 7 P, 10 PIM, +3
Stats (Modo J20 (SuperElit)): 14 GP, 3 G, 15 A, 18 P, 22 PIM, +9
Adrian Kempe is a fast, physical, power forward who is solid at both ends of the ice. He started in Modo's Junior League but made his way up to the big club with strong play.
10) Jake Virtanen (F)
Stats (Calgary Hitmen (WHL)): 43 GP, 26 G, 16 A, 42 P, 50 PIM, +11
Jake Virtanen is yet another power forward in the 2014 draft class. He's a good skater, he's physical, and he's got good hands. He was expected to put up a lot more points than he has already coming into the season but he still has a lot of potential thanks to his skill.
11) Jared McCann (C)
Stats (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)): 42 GP, 20 G, 22 A, 43 P, 26 PIM, +9
Jared McCann is a fast-skating battler who can puck the puck in the back of the net and dish as well. He got off to a hot start but has sort of cooled down. The fact that he's a center who battles and can put the puck in the net might make him a good choice for Nashville come June.
12) Ivan Barbashev (LW)
Stats (Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)): 31 GP, 13 G, 27 A, 40 P, 21 PIM, -3
Stats (Russia U20 (WJC)): 7 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 P, 0 PIM, +1
Ivan Barbashev is a good playmaker who does well in a high paced offense. He is fast, he can play physically, he's got a good hockey sense, and he plays well in the defensive zone, doing all the little things you need to win a hockey game. He was the only player to play for Russia in the World Junior Championships who is draft eligible.
13) David Pastrnak (LW/RW)
Stats (Södertälje (Allveskan)): 29 GP, 7 G, 14 A, 21 P, 20 PIM, +7
Stats (Czech Republic (WJC)): 5 GP, 1 G, 2 A, 3 P, 0 PIM, +1
David Pastrnak is an offensive forward with great hands and creativity, good speed and a hard shot. He's the kind of player that will bring you off your feet.
14) Jakub Vrana (F)
Stats (Linkoping J20 (SuperElit)): 19 GP, 12 G, 9 A, 21 P, 12 PIM, +2
Stats (Czech Republic (WJC)): 5 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 P, 4 PIM, 0
Jakub Vrana is the second player from the Czech Republic World Junior Championship team on this list. He is a competitive player and with good offensive abilities; he can create plays or finish them.
15) Nikolay Goldobin (RW/LW)
Stats (Sarnia Sting (OHL)): 42 GP, 31 G, 37 A, 68 P, 14 PIM, -11
It is hard to ignore the points Nikolay Goldobin has put up for the Sarnia Sting, no matter where he's from. He's a great offensive forward who can do it all. Normally I wouldn't put a player in this list that might be a second round pick but if he was around for the Predator's pick they should definitely take a hard look at him.
Information was obtained from draftsite.com, NHL.com, eliteprospects.com, and hockeydb.com
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