The Nashville Predators have inked 2014 second-round selection Jack Dougherty to an entry-level contract. After spending this past season at the University of Wisonsin, he's slated to spend next year playing for the Portland Winterhawks.
It's not too often you see players switch from Collegiate hockey to Junior hockey but that is what we have here. There are multiple reasons why this move makes sense:
- More games. Last season Dougherty only played 31 games with the Wisconsin Badgers. Playing with the Portland Winterhawks next season he will be able to take part in 72 plus games. With more than double the amount of games, the young defenseman will be able to get used to a rigorous schedule while having more learning experiences that practices cannot emulate.
- A better team. As a perennial top team in the WHL, the Portland Winterhawks will play in more meaningful games and be in the thick of things much more. Not only that but being on a good team will make Dougherty look better to the people that are picking team USA's U20 roster. That is a huge and meaningful experience for any prospect so making that team would be great for him.
- AHL/NHL-Ready in 2016-2017. With Jack Dougherty turning 20 in May, he will not have any trouble with the CHL-NHL agreement which states you have to turn 20 by December of your current season (in this case 2016) in order to play in the AHL.
- Already has size. The biggest benefit to playing in the college ranks is the time you get to work out. With Dougherty already being 186 pounds, the need to get bigger isn't really there. The necessary weight can be put on in the offseason. Playing more games will be more important for him.
- Playing rookie and preseason games. Because college players cannot sign contracts, they cannot attend rookie camp or play in the preseason. Those are two great opportunities for the player to play against NHL-quality competition and for the team to gauge how he is doing and offer suggestions for improvement.
As far as development goes, both the Wisconsin Badgers and the Portland Winterhawks have a great reputation of getting players ready for the NHL. While this is not a move that is often made for prospect, the positives are definitely there and it would seem this is a great move for Dougherty's development.
Nashville, Tenn. (July 24, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Friday that the club has signed 2014 second-round selection Jack Dougherty to a three-year entry-level contract. The 6-1, 186-pound defenseman is expected to play his first season with the Western Hockey League’s Portland Winterhawks in 2015-16.
Dougherty, 19 (5/25/96), spent the 2014-15 season at the University of Wisconsin, tying for fourth among Big Ten freshmen defensemen in points (2g-7a-9pts) and ranking fifth in power-play points (1g-3a-4pts) among first-year blueliners. Prior to his lone collegiate season, the St. Paul, Minn., native played the 2013-14 season with the U.S. National Team Development Program, ranking second among team blueliners in goals (6), and fourth in points (22). He helped the United States win its fifth gold medal in a six-year span at the Under-18 World Championship in 2014, and led Team USA to a silver medal at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Tournament.
Nashville's third choice, 51st overall (second round), in the 2014 Entry Draft, Dougherty played two seasons of Minnesota High School hockey with St. Thomas Academy in 2012-13 and 2013-14 and helped the Cadets captured their third consecutive Class A state title in 2013. The sixth current or former Portland Winterhawk in the Predators organization, Dougherty is on Twitter @jackdougherty2.