We're continuing our look at the best prospects in the organization. For the previous installments, click here, here, and here.
10. Pontus Aberg
Pontus Aberg is a scoring winger who possesses speed and tenacity. His shot, his best weapon, is extremely hard and accurate and is backed by a great release. He has the ability to play on both sides of the dot which could help him find a roster spot at the NHL level sooner rather than later. He could potentially be a very nice complement to the Predators forwards with good playmaking ability like Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok or Kevin Fiala.
Drafted: 37th overall in 2012.
Potential: At his best, Aberg could bring some scoring to the top six (even top three but not as a true first line player). If he isn't able to mesh well with the North American game and is not able to find a top nine role at the NHL level, I would expect him to return to Europe. The good thing is, though, that his shot release is very quick which should definitely help him in the smaller ice where time is limited.
What's Next? Aberg will most likely spend 2014-2015 adjusting to the North American game in Milwaukee, where he will be surrounded by familiar company as seemingly half of the Ads are Swedish.
9. Jack Dougherty
A huge steal in the third round of the 2014 NHL Draft, Jack Dougherty is a solid two-way defenseman who is a good puck handler and distributer as well as a very reliable defenseman. Based on the interviews I have seen of him, he seems like one of the nicest guys you will ever meet which, although it has nothing to do with hockey, is definitely worth mentioning.
Drafted: 51st overall in 2014.
Potential: I could see Dougherty potentially having the ability to fill any of the three right-D positions at the NHL level. He's committed to the University of Wisconsin, which has been known for being a very good school for development of defenseman. Ryan Suter, Ryan McDonagh, Chris Chelios, and Brian Rafalski are a few notable defenseman who are Badger alumni.
What's Next? Dougherty will spend 2014-2015 in Wisconsin, after which he will be re-evaluated by the Predators coaching staff. If he is successful enough there, he could potentially find a way onto the Milwaukee Admirals in 2015-2016, but that will be up to him and his agent.
8. Brendan Leipsic
Brendan Leipsic is a skilled scoring forward who has spent the past few seasons putting up impressive point totals in the WHL for the powerhouse that is the Portland Winterhawks. As some may have seen in the prospect game this summer, he is very creative (he tried a spinorama coming up the wing) and his skating has improved greatly since last camp where he looked limited in his range of motion, in my opinion.
Leipsic also possesses some grit and peskiness which could help him fill a third or fourth line checking role if need be. He definitely is one that fits the Brad Marchand style of play as he can both score and agitate. His biggest limiting factor is his size as he is only 5'9" but he definitely has the skill and tenacity to overcome this; lower body and core will be key to him making it to the NHL.
Drafted: 89th overall in 2012.
Potential: If Leipsic overcomes his size, he will likely fill a middle six role. He does, however, have the skill to be a first line player.
What's Next? Leipsic will likely spend 2014-2015 in Milwaukee getting acclimated to using his skill and peskiness against men in a top nine, if not top six, role. I would definitely keep an eye on him because he is one of those forwards who could help the Predators get rid of their scoring woes in the future.
7. Miikka Salomaki
When Miikka Salomaki was drafted he was expected to be a defensively responsible, blood and guts, kind of player. This season in Milwaukee, he has proven that he can provide much more for the Predators by putting up an impressive 20 goals and 30 assists in 75 games as just a 21 year old. His biggest asset are his "fire hydrant" size legs (paraphrased quote from coaching staff) which he uses very well to both absolutely destroy his opponents and to gain position in front of the net.
When Salomaki did make his way to the front of the net last season in Milwaukee, he was able to display a nice up-close scoring touch which reminds me a lot of former Pred Patric Hornqvist. Fortunately, unlike Hornqvist, he possesses fairly good skating ability and speed.
Drafted: 52nd overall in 2011
Potential: Once he makes it to the NHL, I could see Salomaki doing anything from filling a similar role to that of Patric Hornqvist to being a solid fourth liner who has the ability to bring a little secondary scoring.
What's Next? This fall, Miikka Salomaki will look to make the team out of training camp. His aggressive nature could lend well towards Peter Laviolette's system but his lack in speed could hurt him with the Predators who look like they are trying to build their offense around that very thing. In the more likely situation the Predators let him spend one more season in Milwaukee he will likely be on top of the call-up list.
6. Colton Sissons
Colton Sissons came into Milwaukee last season and made an immediate impact putting up 44 points in 62 games leading to a trip to the AHL All-Star Game. He is a defensive-minded forward who can play both center and wing. His defensive IQ is very high and he also has a little bit of grit to his game. He also has a little bit of offensive upside as well and possesses great leadership qualities which will likely lead to him being a future candidate to fill one of the captaincy roles for the Predators.
Drafted: 50th overall in 2012.
Potential: Due to his already-polished defensive abilities, it's pretty safe to say Sissons will be at least a third line player. If he can continue to develop his offensive game, as he did last season in Milwaukee, he could become a Mike Fisher-type player and fill a top six role for the Predators.
What's Next? Sissons will look to find a way onto the Predators roster coming out of training camp but if he does get sent down to Milwaukee, I would expect him to be one of the first guys the Predators call up, should injury occur. I think he does find a way to solidify a spot on the Predators roster by next season.