Nashville Predators 2016 NHL Draft: What We Learned
With the 2016 NHL Entry Draft complete, here is what we come away with: defense, defense, and more defense.
"This is probably the best #NHLDraft we've had. I can tell you every player we drafted, we spent a lot of time on." pic.twitter.com/QdxQaW3Qq7— Jeremy K. Gover (@govertime) June 25, 2016
Now, while I think we can all agree GM David Poile would have said that no matter who he drafted, the Nashville Predators did seem to have some pretty solid pickups. In total, they drafted five defensemen, two centers, and one goaltender.
1st Round, 17th Overall: Dante Fabbro (committed to Boston University, NCAA): RD, 6'1", 192 lbs.
2nd Round, 47th Overall: Samuel Girard (Shawinigan Cataractes, QMJHL): LD, 5'9", 160 lbs.
3rd Round, 76th Overall: Rem Pitlick (committed to the University of Minnesota, NCAA): C, 5'9", 194 lbs.
3rd Round, 78th Overall: Frederic Allard (Chicoutimi Sagueneens, QMJHL): RD, 6'1", 179 lbs.
4th Round, 108th Overall: Hardy Haman Aktell (Skelleftea J18, J18 Allsvenskan): LD, 6'3", 198 lbs.
5th Round, 138th Overall: Patrick Harper (committed to Boston University, NCAA): 5'8", 154 lbs.
6th Round, 168th Overall: Konstantin Volkov (SKA St. Pettersberg, MHL): G, 6'3", 212 lbs.
7th Round, 198th Overall: Adam Smith (Bowling Green, NCAA): RD, 6'0", 181 lbs.
1) The defense's pipeline is now restocked.
The Predators went with defensemen with four of their first five picks in the NHL draft. Poile said before the draft he wanted to restock the defensive pipeline—consider it restocked.
Poile said don't be surprised if the #Preds take a defensemen with the first pick or two in the draft, but still want best player available.— Robby Stanley (@RStanley247) May 18, 2016
By drafting Fabbro in the first round, the Predators picked up a right-shot defenseman who immediately jumps to the top of their defensive prospect pool. Fabbro is noted by Corey Pronman as having some of the best hockey smarts in the draft. Also of note, Fabbro's favorite defensemen is Shea Weber, his favorite team is the Predators, and both his sisters play soccer just down the road. It's a match made in heaven.
Nashville selects Dante Fabbro. Was my second ranked defenseman. Hockey IQ at top of the class and can play at both ends.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 25, 2016
Fabbro has 2 sisters who play soccer at Austin Peay in Clarksville. They've been to #Preds games, told Dante of "unbelievable" atmosphere.— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) June 25, 2016
With their second round pick, the Predators went with possibly the most dynamic defensemen in the draft in 5-foot-9 Samuel Girard. Girard was widely considered heavily underrated and was named the best defenseman in the QMJHL last season. He could be the second best defensive prospect in the Predators system right now.
#Preds scout J-P Glaude on Samuel Girard: "He is an elite offensive defensemen, the top scorer in the CHL on defense at only 17 years old."— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) June 25, 2016
In the third round the Predators went with a physical defenseman with a bomb of a shot in Frederic Allard. He was highly touted by Nashville's Quebec-based scout J-P Glaude:
#Preds scout J-P Glaude on Frederic Allard: "He' s a good person, really competitive and will be a great defenseman for our team."— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) June 25, 2016
The Predators also picked up Hardy Haman Aktell, a relative unknown, in the fourth round and Adam Smith in the seventh round.
#Preds scout Lucas Bergman on Hardy Haman Aktell: "He’s been a little bit under the radar. I think he's a top-four profile, lots of upside."— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) June 25, 2016
@BGSU_Hockey Dman Adam Smith goes to @PredsNHL at #198. Definitely a project, but has good puck moving skills & skates really well.— DJ Powers (@DJPowersHF) June 25, 2016
2) There is no "NCAA factor."
After former Predators prospect Jimmy Vesey exploited a loop hole the NHL has with the NCAA and decided not to sign with the Predators, many wondered if Poile would be hesitant to draft college players. The answer to that question: a resounding "no." Four of the Predators' eight draft picks were from or are heading to the NCAA.
This is the right move by the Predators organization. They identified players they wanted and they were not afraid to take them; NCAA or not. The number of NCAA players who spurn NHL teams is relatively small and the shear amount of talent that is produced in the college ranks outweighs the minor risk.
3) Poile likes his forward group.
How do I know this? The Predators drafted two forwards in the draft. One was Pitlick (76th overall) and one was Harper (138th overall.) Their respective listed sizes: 5-foot-9, 194 lbs and 5-foot-8, 154 lbs.
Players of that size, no matter how skilled they are, are not ones who teams do not bet on if they want to restock their pipeline. With the two picks, the Predators took two players they believe have great top six offensive upside due to their high-end skill and great speed. If they don't turn out as top six players, however, they probably don't ever make it to the NHL.
Nashville takes overage small superscorer Rem Pitlick who led the USHL in scoring— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) June 25, 2016
#Preds scout Tom Nolan on Patrick Harper: "He is a highly, highly skilled forward... We just feel that there is a lot of upside with him."— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) June 25, 2016
That is by no means a knock against either one of the players, as they are highly dynamic. However, the reality is the Predators' scouting staff feels they have sufficiently stocked the cupboard in the forward department and they are now looking for "home-run" picks.
4) The Predators like their QMJHLers.
In last years' draft the Preds scouting staff took three QMJHL products in Yakov Trenin, Alexander Carrier, and Anthony Richard. They once again dipped into that pipeline by drafting defensemen Girard and Allard.
Also of note, the Predators are having pretty good success right now with QMJHL players suiting up for their AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals. Known as the "French Fries," Frederick Gaudreau, Felix Girard, and Jimmy Oligny have all done well playing in Milwaukee. In all, the Predators' now have seven "French Fries" in their system.
5) The scouting staff isn't afraid to get weird.
With their 76th (third round) and 108th (fourth round) overall picks in the draft, Nashville went a little bit off the board with Pitlick and Aktell. Their rankings prior to being drafted?
Rem Pitlick: #93 Overall (North American Skaters, NHL Central Scouting,) #119 Overall (ISS Hockey,) #126 Overall (McKeen's Hockey)
Hardy Aktell: #60 Overall (European Skaters, NHL Central Scouting)
It is pretty common for NHL teams to have different draft boards than other teams and scouting organizations and only time will tell if the Predators were justified in their picks.
Some Other Pertinent Tweets from the Draft:
Poile says he's hopeful 7 of the 8 picks will attend Development Camp next week. #Preds— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) June 25, 2016
Dante Fabbro sports the #Preds logo for the first time. pic.twitter.com/9mE0503HJG— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) June 25, 2016
Nashville take small but skilled dman Samuel Girard. Hard passer. Best PPQB in the draft— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) June 25, 2016
Nashville loading up on defense. Took Fabbro yesterday and get Samuel Girard today who was the top d in the QMJHL.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 25, 2016
Girard on being drafted: "It's the best feeling of my life... I don't have words for this." #Preds— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) June 25, 2016
buffalo took a nice pu (I've got tons of these)— J.R. Lind (@jrlind) June 25, 2016
Interesting note on Pitlick--not 100% to Minnesota. Some speculation he might end up in Prince George/WHL— james, offseason (@Predalytics) June 25, 2016
Nashville goes skilled dman again - takes personal fave Frederic Allard from QMJHL. Has a cannon.— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) June 25, 2016
Frederic Allard says he watched the #Preds during the playoffs, was impressed with the fans and atmosphere in Nashville.— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) June 25, 2016
#Preds picks (and friends) Frederic Allard & Samuel Girard. pic.twitter.com/FglSL6ZtiF— Justin Bradford (@justinbbradford) June 25, 2016
Future Considerations on Harper: "Harper is an explosive offensive talent who reminds us of a young Paul Kariya." #Preds #NHLDraft— Justin Bradford (@justinbbradford) June 25, 2016
Preds take Avon center Patrick Harper. Going to BU. Very small but quick. Flyers LHD Linus Hogberg. Nucks take dman Cole Candella— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) June 25, 2016
#Preds scout Martin Bakula on Konstantin Volkov: "He is a big goalie that moves very well for his size. We are really happy to have him."— Brooks Bratten (@brooksbratten) June 25, 2016
Thats a hell of a name for a super villain trying to keep a low profile https://t.co/Sarwkxqi62— Link (@3DLink) June 25, 2016