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OTF Q&A: Gone Campin'

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Rookie camp, rookie tournament, other teams' games at said rookie tournament, we at OTF have sat through plenty of kids playing hockey. Even we have questions about what we've seen. But we'll be nice and answer yours first.

Photo by Jon Garcia

Rookie camp has come and gone, and we have a little bit of time to soak in what we've seen before the real thing starts. We wanted to know what questions you had for us, and we even had some ourselves. So let get to it:

Your Questions:

Jon: Mostly the last part. Rookie camp is a way for coaches and scouts to get a better look at the kids coming up in their system, before they get lost amongst the actual hockey players. If someone stands out (like Filip Forsberg and Kevin Fiala did) that's fantastic, and you should continue to keep an eye on them. But they are playing against players in the same situation as them, and some that will never crack an NHL lineup. Once they start practicing and playing with players that have been around the block for several years it could be a different story.

Jason: Forsberg to me looked like an NHL player, and I think his performance over the weekend will translate well to the full camp this week. Everybody was impressed with Fiala, but I think we should be careful with our expectations there. If he's good enough to make the team, that's fantastic, but due to his age, size and experience I think it's a bit of a longshot.

Dan: Fiala is fast, has some skill, and a bit tougher that I expected at first. Forsberg hitting someone like he plays wing for a California team was very satisfying. Rob Madore is smaller than me while he's wearing skates and I'm wearing sandals. Everyone was super cold at Ford Ice Center, except me. Also, Viktor Arvidsson is my shootout spirit animal. Also, the people who show up to free sporting events pertaining to a major college/professional team contain some of the best candidates for people watching you will ever participate in.

Jon: Honestly, I don't think there are going to be any surprises this year, unfortunately. People might be peeved if Forsberg or Calle Jarnkrok start in the AHL, but they may not be surprised. I'd love to see Colton Sissons make the team out of camp, though. My feelings are Gabriel Bourque or Nystrom would get squeezed out first.

Jason: I guess Brendan Leipsic would be my surprise candidate. There are a couple of guys at the bottom there who could get squeezed out, but who knows? We'll have to see what the new coach values for those last couple of roster slots.

Dan: I wouldn't call "surprise" as a word, but Forsberg makes the most sense. Fiala would really surprise me, but if Nashville decides to jettison Eric Nystrom for Mikka Salomaki, I wouldn't cry. I'm not going to bet on it though. A trade to purge off some of the bad contracts that will clog up the third line this year might be addition by subtraction.

Jon: I'm so glad this movie has unexpectedly popped up several times this week. I love it, and it's been a dream of mine to go to a lake that has its own Blob. But, you know, even more extreme.

Jason: I'll watch it today at work and get back to you. Don't worry about me...I'll watch it on my laptop so it'll look like I'm working.

Dan: I never saw this one. I do remember Meatballs with Bill Murray because it is a far superior movie.

Jon: I would love to see Anton Volchenkov and Seth Jones on the second pair, with Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis (knock on wood) rounding out the bottom four.

Like I've said a ton this summer, bringing in a veteran guy like Volchenkov will let Jones takes some risks in the offensive zone, as well as give him a guy to learn from. Ellis is a second pair defenseman anywhere else in the league, which speaks to Nashville's defensive depth. Having him with a sturdy up-and-comer like Ekholm will give teams fits no matter who they are player. Though it looks like Victor Bartley will be taking up that spot for right now, and the drop off there is noticeable.

Jason: Bold prediction here...I'm getting the sensation that Ryan Ellis won't be on the Preds this year. So that would leave Volchenkov-Jones and Ekholm-Bartley, with Diaby playing here at some point this season.

Dan: Agree completely. If Ellis isn't back, I'm okay with Victor Bartley playing next to Ekholm. While Ellis is a good option for a second/third pairing guy, I'm fine with having that third pair play some protected minutes and get the most out of their offensive zone time. Putting an old, war-tested security blanket next to Seth Jones will allow Seth to be Seth. Call me a bit of a weirdo, but I'm a believer in the John Wooden school of coaching. I'd rather see Lavy use what these players do best rather than try to fit them into a role where they are not built to succeed at.

In a perfect world, Seth and Anton will play in the defensive zone and take some of the pressure off Josi and Weber, who can terrorize teams in the offensive zone occasionally instead of helping the team dig out of a hole. If Seth and Anton can gel, it's going to be gorgeous.

Our Questions:

What Preds prospect impressed you the most? Is he the most NHL ready, or is that someone else?

Jon: Fiala, hands down. While Forsberg was named the team MVP, we've at least gotten to see him in action. This was my first time seeing the 18-year-old Swiss native, and he's going to be an absolute treat to watch. I wouldn't say he's NHL ready, though. Forsberg takes that distinction, with Sissons knocking on the door.

Jason: Fiala, in a landslide. I had pretty low expectations for him going into the weekend, and he definitely stood out amongst the other prospects. Besides his speed, he really tried to assert himself physically a few times, shoving guys, battling it out in the corners, etc. Very fun to watch.

Dan: Fiala impressed me the most because of things that happened before he arrived. I cannot remember a Preds draft pick being this good and this young. His speed, creativity, and his presence on the ice is really special, and not the standard "big, two-way prospect" that we're used to. Forsberg is the polished guy I'd feel comfortable putting in a scoring role this year on the top two lines. Yes, I'm serious.

(Fill in the blank) Jonathan Diaby will ______________________ in 2014-15.

Jon: "be in Milwaukee." He's a giant and was knocking guys off pucks all weekend, but should have some time to get used to defending in the AHL instead of juniors. Nashville's blue line is a little crowded right now, but I wouldn't be surprised if they brought him up for a cup of coffee sometime during the year.

Jason: "play in Milwaukee...to start". He's definitely full-grown, but he could probably use a little more seasoning before making the jump. Would not be surprised in the least if he's the first guy up in case of injury or failure.

Dan: "win the hearts and minds of the coaching staff." I can see him making a push for the roster for next season, and frankly, he's a bigger Volchenkov. Seeing him next to Jones down the road makes a ton of sense, especially if he can outpace Alm and become that big nasty stay-at-home guy that Jones needs to roam around the ice and do Seth Jones stuff. And let's face it: if Volchenkov is healthy available at the deadline for a team that's willing to barter for him, Nashville is in a position of strength when it comes to their left defensemen. If not Diaby, Johan Alm could be called up.

After having a look at Magnus Hellberg, Marek Mazanec, and travel-sized Rob Madore, who will start the most games for Milwaukee?

Jon: Hellberg will be the starter until proven otherwise, especially if he has a bounce back year.

Jason: Mazanec. But what in the world happened to Hellberg? Remember when he was the goalie-in-waiting to backup/replace Pekka? A backup role in Milwaukee seems to be his best case scenario now...bummer.

Dan: Mazanec, simply because he's the most polished guy there. It would take a lot from Hellberg to unseat him.

Where is the best place for Colton Sissons this year?

Jon: He should get his shot to be in the NHL. The problem is Paul Gaustad is firmly slotted into the fourth-line center position, and the third line could very well be filled with speedy youngsters. If Nystrom or Rich Clune are repeatedly scratched, he could spend a good amount of time showing what he can do in the majors.

Jason: Lots of money tied up in 4th line/ role players means a few guys like Sissons are gonna have a tough time breaking through. Being that half the team is on a one-year deal, things could open up a bit more next year.

Dan: Milwaukee. Really. I want to see him bulk up and become more well-rounded rather than seeing him become a plumber. Nick Spaling fell into that role, and had a tough time climbing out of it for the rest of his time in Nashville. He's good enough to usurp minutes from Cullen/Gaustad/Nystrom/Clune/A jar or Miracle Whip, but upgrading the fourth line center isn't worth typecasting Sissons.

Lastly, the Preds prospects won against Tampa, and lost against Florida (should have been a tie, but whatever) and Boston. Given the talent on those rosters, how do you feel about the prospect pool?

Jon: I feel good about the prospect pool and so should the fans. There may not be a whole lot of room for a lot of these players right now, but there are a good number of contracts coming off the books at the end of this year. That's very conducive for guys playing themselves on the team at next year's camp.

Jason: I feel pretty great about the prospect pool. I'll be very interested to see how (if at all) the organizational mindset has changed from the Not Veteran Enough era. Time will tell.

Dan: Oddly enough, I think Nashville had more top-end guys than Florida and Boston. Pastrnak was special, and Drouin might take the Calder this year, but Fiala and Forsberg were both in the conversation for best forwards (with #PrinceFilip winning the media's hearts).

What do you think?

Have a question you want answered? Send them to us through email, Facebook, Twitter, or any other means of communication. Maybe you'll see your question in the next installment. Be sure to tag #OTFQandA on the social media fronts.