2015 NHL Draft Targets for the Nashville Predators: The Centers
Leading up to draft day, we're looking at players that could be on the board when the Preds come calling. Today we are examining potential centers from the second round.
The biggest future need the Predators have is the need for two top-six centers. Even if the Predators bring in a number one center they will inevitably still need one to back him up, and they need to provide themselves with as many options as possible. Luckily for them this is a deep draft so the chance they are able to pluck a center from the second round and beyond that will make an impact is that much greater.
Potential Late Second Rounders
1) Thomas Novak
Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL); heading to the University of Minnesota (NCAA)
Central Scouting Ranking: #28 (North American Skaters)
ISS Ranking: #44
Playmaking center Thomas Novak's greatest strength is his hockey sense and he also has great hands and skating ability. The former high school teammate of Jack Dougherty plays an up-tempo style which would lend well to Laviolette's system while his playmaking ability would greatly complement Nashville's snipers up the wings. Based on many of the scouts' reports he would need to fall a few spots in order for him to be in the Predators' range.
2) Alexander Dergachev
SKA 1946 (MHL)
Central Scouting Ranking: #17 (European Skaters)
ISS Ranking: #45
If you thought Anton Volchenkov deserved to be called A-Train wait until you get a load of this guy. He's fast, he's big, he's competitive, he goes to the hard areas, and he is Russian. He's also very strong defensively and has a good offensive skillset including good smarts and solid playmaking ability, soft hands, and an NHL-calibre shot. His power-forward style might be better-suited up the wing but if he can put it all together he's got the ability to be a top six center.
Alexander Dergachev and Darnell Nurse heavyweight bout of epic proportion:
3) Julius Nattinen
Central Scouting Ranking: #15 (European Skaters)
ISS Ranking: #66
Julius Nattinen is a two-way center with great smarts and above-average skating, hands, and shooting ability. He's more of a playmaker than a scorer and he can play in all situations. He needs to improve his offensive consistency to become the top six center the Predators need but you can't teach Hockey IQ and that alone makes it much more likely to become such a player.
4) Denis Malgin
ZSC Lions (NLA)
Central Scouting Ranking: #20 (European Skaters)
ISS Ranking: #67
Denis Malgin is an offensive playmaking center with a great hockey IQ and very good speed, hands, and aggressiveness. Those skills alone might project him to one day be a high-impact offensive player. He will always be undersized by NHL standards but players like Tyler Johnson have made much headway for smaller players such as Malgin. In fact, Craig Button compared Malgin to the young Tampa Bay center in TSN's draft rankings. Something to take into consideration is Malgin has prior experience and success playing with Kevin Fiala in international play.
5) Yakov Trenin
Cenral Scouting Ranking: #58 (North American Skaters)
ISS Ranking: #59
Like many Russians, Yakov Trenin is a pass-first kind of player. He has solid stickhandling skills, is hard on the puck, and is a very smart player. His shot and skating still need improvement but his overall skillset makes him a solid prospect. He might be destined to play up the wing but his smarts and success up the middle suggest he still could be a center.
Later Round Options
1) Cooper Marody
Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL); heading to the University of Michigan
Central Scouting Ranking: #53 (North American Skaters)
ISS Ranking: #83
Cooper Marody is a skilled playmaking center who tore up the USHL with 20 goals and 29 assists in a mere 38 games for the Sioux Falls Stampede. He has a high hockey intelligence, he is equally adept at scoring and setting up goals, and he works his tail off. He is probably going to be a third round pick but it would not be unreasonable for the Predators to pick him in the late second round.
2) Nathan Noel
Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Central Scouting Ranking: #54 (North American Skaters)
Claude Giroux is a player that flourished in Laviolette's system due to his skillset; a skillset shared by Nathan Noel, who models his game after Giroux. He is hard-working and has good offensive smarts, creativity, and skills including agility, hands, and goal-scoring acumen.
3) Kevin Stenlund
HV71 J20 (J20 SuperElit)
Central Scouting Ranking: #21 (European Skaters)
ISS Ranking: #90
Kevin Stenlund has the size and playmaking ability that many teams greatly desire out of a centerman. He has great hands, good passing ability, and a hard, quick, and accurate shot. He needs to improve his defensive game, compete level, and offensive productivity but his potential makes him a very interesting prospect that should go in the third or fourth round.
4) Cameron Hughes
University of Wisconsin (NCAA)
Central Scouting Ranking: #196 (North American Skaters)
Cameron Hughes is a very dynamic playmaking center with tons of speed, great vision, and fantastic hands. While earlier in the season he was lauded by Hockey's Future as a potential top-flight center in the NHL, his rough time playing against the bigger NCAA competition will probably lead to him falling into the later rounds of the draft. Playing alongside Predators' prospect Jack Dougherty would definitely give Hughes more of a stage for the Predators' staff but whether that is a good or bad thing has yet to be seen.