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Nashville Predators’ Top 25 Under 25: 21-25

We’re starting the count down of the top Predators players and prospects under 25-years-old with players ranked from 21-25.

2016 NHL Draft - Rounds 2-7 Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Thanks to help from Mark Harris, Hayley Alexandria, Michael Gallagher, and yours truly, On the Forecheck has ranked the Predators’ top players and prospects under the age of 25.

Players were ranked based on potential and probability to reach that potential. Rankings varied, but in the end we came up with a great representation of the state of the Predators’ depth chart.

The rankings will be posted over the next five Tuesdays in pairs of five. Furthermore, on September 13 we will recap the Predators’ prospect pool and look over some players who were notably left out of the ranking. Enjoy!

21. Rem Pitlick (C)

Birthdate: April 2, 1997 (Age 19)

Height: 5’9”

Weight: 196 lbs

NHL Draft: 2016 3rd Round, #76 Overall (Nashville Predators)

Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL): 56 GP, 46 G, 43 A, 89 P, 74 PIM, +6

Rem Pitlick was possibly the most dominant USHL player last season (next to top 2016 draft pick Clayton Keller) as he led all players in points by 23. This success in a smaller-sized league can be partially attributed to Pitlick’s heavy weight gain as he went from 170 pounds to 190 pounds over the summer of 2015.

Pitlick’s strength was very evident at the Predators’ Development Camp where he rode Kevin Fiala into the boards so hard Fiala chipped a tooth. Also evident was his great shot, speed and competitiveness. In the coming years Pitlick needs to improve his playmaking and defensive responsibility.

This summer Pitlick was cut from Team USA’s roster for the World Junior Championship so he will not have that to look forward to next season.

This Tuesday, Pitlick officially committed to play for the University of Minnesota in 2016-2017. Prior to this summer he stated he wanted to remain with the Muskegon Lumberjacks, citing players make the wrong decision for their development more often in moving up rather than staying back.

Expected to be a contributor in the top-six, Pitlick made the right decision in continuing to push his development forward as he has already proven himself as one of the best in the USHL.

2015-2016 Grade: A+

NHL Projection: Middle Six Scoring Forward

Projected NHL Arrival: Not Reasonable to Project

22. Frederic Allard

Birth Date: December 27, 1997 (Age 18)

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 179 lbs

NHL Draft: 2016 3rd Round, #78 Overall (Nashville Predators)

Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL): 64 GP, 14 G, 45 A, 59 P, 34 PIM, -7

Frederic Allard is a raw, but very talented, defenseman. He has a booming shot and is a solid skater with great physicality, who possesses many intangibles with a fantastic, hardworking, and leader-like attitude. Allard made me a fan when I saw he told La Presse Canadienne “I wanted to arrive strong for the season. Compared to my other two seasons, I’ve gained more responsibilities by proving to my coach I deserve them.” That’s the kind of attitude you want in a top prospect.

Allard had a very good draft year with the Sagueneens and gained a lot of support among draft communities because of his aforementioned raw ability. Next season will be all about improving his consistency and defensive ability, as those two things were among his question marks according to many scouts.

While Dante Fabbro and Samuel Girard grabbed much of the spotlight in the 2016 draft for the Predators, keep an eye on Allard as a prospect who could make some noise if he continues on his developmental track. You also have to like that he will be eligible to join the Milwaukee Admirals after next season as he turns 20 before January, 2018.

2015-2016 Grade: B+

NHL Projection: Second Pairing Defenseman

Projected NHL Arrival: Not Reasonable to Project

23. Anthony Richard

Birth Date: December 20, 1996 (Age 19)

Height: 5’10”

Weight: 174 lbs.

NHL Draft: 2015 4th Round, #100 Overall (Nashville Predators)

Val-d’Or Foreurs (QMJHL): 58 GP, 37 G, 50 A, 87 P, 37 PIM, +28

Anthony Richard turned many heads early last season in the Predators’ Rookie Camp. In an interview with Daniel Lavender of Admirals Roundtable, Admirals Coach Dean Evason stated he felt really comfortable playing Richard in all areas of the ice in that camp. That is saying a lot considering Richard is primarily known for his speed, goal scoring, and feistiness in the QMJHL for the Val-d’Or Foreurs.

Richard went on to have a solid season for the Foreurs, where he continued to improve upon his defensive play and kept up his very high production. After battling through injury late in the season, Richard ended his season playing injured for Milwaukee.

Though Lavender stated Richard’s speed was evident, Dean Evason was quick to note at the recent development camp Richard wasn’t even close to 100% healthy while in Milwaukee.

In his first full season in the AHL in 2016-2017, Richard will need to start to bring that production from the QMJHL while gaining enough trust to play in all situations for the Admirals. I had Richard ranked much higher than his final ranking because he is not a one dimensional high-scoring, fast forward and I think he has a great chance to be a very solid contributor to Nashville’s middle six when the time is right.

2015-2016 Grade: B+

NHL Projection: Middle Six Forward

Projected NHL Arrival: Depending on how this season goes, 2017-2018

24. Karel Vejmelka (G)

Birth Date: May 25, 1996 (Age 20)

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 202 lbs.

NHL Draft: 2016 5th Round, #145 Overall (Nashville Predators)

SK Horacka Slavia Trebic (Czech 2): 42 GP, 2.62 GAA, 0.920 SV %

Czech Republic U20 (all): 6 GP, 3.84 GAA, 0.861 SV %

HC Kometa Brno (Czech): 5 GP, 1.47 GAA, 0.941 SV %

HC Pardubice (Czech): 1 GP, 1.36 GAA, 0.933 SV %

Karel Vejmelka bounced around in the Czech Leagues last season and really put up some solid numbers, despite the distractions that caused and were cause by that movement—he wanted to move closer to his school and his coaches weren't happy about that.

In his six games in the top Czech league he put up under a 1.5 goals against average and over a .935 save percentage. Granted that is a small sample size, those are fantastic numbers so keep an eye on Vejmelka as he probably makes the jump to the top Czech league full time next season.

As with many Czech goalies, Vejmelka is not the most orthodox goalie, but, he has great size and positioning and a good glove hand and mobility. While Juuse Saros without a doubt deserves to be the Predators’ top goalie in the system, Vejmelka could give him some competition in years to come.

2015-2016 Grade: B+

NHL Projection: Journeyman No. 1 Goalie

Projected NHL Arrival: Not Reasonable to Project

25. Petter Granberg (RD)

Birthdate: August 27, 1992 (Age 23)

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 201 lbs

NHL Draft: 2010 4th Round, 116th Overall

Nashville Predators (NHL): 27 GP, 0 G, 2 A, 2 P, 13 PIM, +1

Milwaukee Admirals (NHL): 6 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, 4 PIM, +1

Petter Granberg started the 2015-2016 season off on long-term injury reserve for the Toronto Maple Leafs. In order to send Granberg down to the AHL after recovering from his injury, the Leafs had to put him through waivers and that is how the Predators came to acquire the hulking Swede.

What became immediately apparent with Granberg was his immense strength. He is very hard to outmuscle in the tough areas of the ice. What was also very apparent was Granberg’s need to adapt to the North American game and the NHL. Turnovers and miscues were always in abundance when he and Anthony Bitetto were on the ice.

While Granberg didn’t hit the ground running after being called up to the Predators, he still has plenty of time to find success in a lower pairing role in the NHL. He has the makings of a more modern NHL stay-at-home defenseman with decent skating and the aforementioned size. Granberg’s ice time will be limited with the addition of Yannick Weber but he did not need to be relied upon as a full-time NHLer anyway.

2015-2016 Grade: C-

NHL Projection: Third Pairing Right Defenseman

All stats via Elite Prospects.