The Nashville Predators are making a habit of producing quality NHL players. Even a cursory glance at the current Preds prospect list confirms this fact. With exciting players like Kevin Fiala, Pontus Aberg, and Magnus Hellberg to look forward to, it may be easy to forget that we already have guys like Filip Forsberg on the current roster. Ok, maybe not.
Keeping up with the AHL, ECHL, SHL, etc. can be taxing (especially if you can't read Swedish), so we've done the work for you. Here are some updates on the top prospects in the Nashville Predators farm system. All stats are as of December 1st.
The Top 5 Prospects (in no particular order)
Hellberg is dominating the AHL right now. He leads the AHL in both GAA (1.23) and Save % (.951). He has yet to lose a game in regulation for the Admirals, while posting a shiny 6-0-1 in starts this year so far. While there are certainly no problems at goaltender for the Predators right now, quality goaltending prospects are always good to have. The Predators certainly have a history of incubating goalies to perfection, and Hellberg seems to be next in line.
The Predators have young Swedish forwards everywhere, and Pontus Aberg is proving himself a valuable Swede to have. Along with Austin Watson, he leads the Admirals in goals with 8. Perhaps more importantly, he is an essential part of the Admirals power-play unit and he leads the team in PP goals with 4. With our power-play being a groan factory recently, it is nice to know that guys like Aberg have some experience and success with the man advantage.
2014 1st round pick Kevin Fiala is currently playing in Sweden at HV71, where he has 5 goals and 11 assists in 20 games. He ranks 2nd in points, 3rd in assists, and 4th in goals among all SHL junior players. During the preseason, Fiala's play was maybe enough to keep him in North America to prep for a 2014-15 debut, but there was really no point. Players like Forsberg, Aberg, Watson, Sissons, and Beck were all clearly more ready to contribute than Fiala. It was an inevitable move to send him to Sweden for the year, and his numbers there seem to suggest he could use it. While his numbers are certainly decent, he will need to prove that he is the best of the junior level players in Sweden before he is able to come back to North America to compete for an NHL job. Stay healthy and see you in 2015 Kevin!
Centering a line with Pontus Aberg and Brendan Leipsic, Austin Watson has thrived in Milwaukee. He has 8 goals and 4 assists on only 31 shots. That blistering 25.8 shooting % is good for 11th in the AHL. A two-way forward draft prospect under the "old regime," it is hard to say what Watson's future holds with the Predators, but if he continues to show offensive ability he will certainly remain in the mix. The Predators will have leverage in handling Watson as he is an RFA at the end of this year.
Brendan Leipsic, the third member of the top line in Milwaukee, actually leads the team in points. With 1 goal and 16 assists, his 17 points are good enough to rank 4th among all AHL rookies. Leipsic is a unique prospect in that while his speed and scoring ability were what got him drafted in 2012, it appears that his playmaking and passing ability are what seem to be working at the AHL level. His 16 assists is good enough to be tied for 1st in the league. Keep your eye on Leipsic...
The Best of the Rest:
Playing for Harvard, Jimmy Vesey has 14 points (8g, 6a) in only 10 games. He has scored a goal in seven of his last ten games and his goals-per-game average (.8) leads the NCAA.
Currently playing for the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL, Zach Budish has 12 points (2 g, 10 a) in 13 games, including 6 points (2g, 4a) in his last 4 games.Like Austin Watson, Budish is an RFA at the end of this year.
Max Gortz has 23 points (10g, 13a) in 31 games with Frolunda of the SHL. Gortz, another Swede, is also another member of that increasingly successful 2012 draft by the Predators.
In 8 games on the blue-line with Wisconsin, Jack Dougherty only has 2 points and nets a +/- of -8, but he scored his first NCAA goal recently, a game-winner over Ferris State.
Playing in the KHL with Magnitogorsk, Kamenev has 7 points (4g, 3a) in 28 games. Somewhat disappointing totals, but it is the KHL. Would you want to play in that league?
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>If you're keeping track, Nashville's first three 2014 choices (Fiala, Kamenev, Dougherty) were named to their respective prelim <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WJC?src=hash">#WJC</a> teams.</p>— Alexis W. (@Ali44) <a href="https://twitter.com/Ali44/status/540541404049838081">December 4, 2014</a></blockquote>
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