Over the past several years, the Nashville Predators have done a pretty good job of stuffing their prospect pipeline (and main roster) with young and talented players that could make an impact at the NHL level. So much so, that we've constantly tackled just which of them will even make the team this year.
So, once again, it's time to look at the organization's top 25 players under the age of 25. This is not a be-all, end-all list of prospects. Rather, a highly-subjective list comprised and averaged of OTF staff member's individual rankings. Be sure to check out Hockey's Future for even more in depth prospect info, or check out Corey Pronman's annual list.
In this portion of the ranking we have a wide range of types of players, each person with something to prove in the upcoming season.
25) JONATHAN-ISMAEL DIABY LD, Montreal, Quebec, Milwaukee (AHL) 6'5", 246 lbs.
Drafted by Nashville in the 3rd round (64th overall) in 2013
Jonathan Diaby had a bit of a rough transition moving from the QMJHL to the AHL, with no points until late in the season and only 2 points on the season; both of which were assists in the month of February. He did show signs of improvement and one season does not diminish the fact he has great size, a ton of physicality, and solid defensive play. Those three attributes form in large part what the Nashville Predator were looking to add when they signed the likes of Anton Volchenkov and Barret Jackman, so once Jackman is gone Diaby should find a lot of comfort stepping into that role; level of play permitting.
24) KRISTIAN NAKYVA LD, Helsinki, Finland, Milwaukee (AHL) 6'0", 187 lbs.
Signed as a free agent in April of 2015
In his time in the Swedish Hockey League, Kristian Nakyva developed into one of the best defensemen in the league. He has a great offensive game and can quarterback a powerplay while he also is fairly reliable defensively. On a one year contract, Nakyva will have to prove he can become an NHL defenseman (he's likely a bottom pairing or 7th defenseman) or risk losing his spot to younger guys like Alexandre Carrier and Jack Dougherty in 2016-2017.
23) EMIL PETTERSSON C, Sundsvall, Sweden, MODO (SHL) 6'2", 164 lbs.
Drafted by Nashville in the 6th round (155th overall) in 2013
Emil Pettersson had quite the breakout season for Timra in 2014-2015, capping it all off by leading Modo out of the elimination round with a team-high four points in four games. He has a great two-way game and is a fantastic skilled playmaker, so he could eventually find a spot in the Predators' middle six. He has a long way, though, and he will need to add size and earn a contract before that happens.
22) ANTHONY RICHARD C, Trois-Ribieres, Quebec, Val-d'Or (QMJHL) 5'10", 163 lbs.
Drafted by Nashville in the 4th round (100th overall) in 2015
Anthony Richard presents an interesting option for the Predators as a feisty top-10 scorer in the QMJHL with solid scoring and playmaking skills and incredible foot speed that could rival any player within the Predators' organization. Even with his good scoring ability, his lack of size may make him better suited up the wing if he makes it to the NHL. However, Tyler Johnson making waves for small centers everywhere will help him out. He has the ability to be a top-six forward but he still has a long way to go.
21) MAX GORTZ RW, Hoor, Sweden, Milwaukee (AHL) 6'2, 196 lbs.
Drafted by Nashville in the 6th round (172nd overall) in 2012
Max Gortz has the size, puck protection, two-way game, and scoring ability to be a solid bottom six forward in the NHL. His transition to the smaller ice surface could very well be a smooth one because of his already good play in tight spaces. With the loss of Taylor Beck in the Nashville Predators' system, Gortz's size, two-way game, and ability to score in a lesser role should make him even more of an asset for the Predators' organization.