Players Outside the Top 25 Under 25 to Watch
1) Emil Pettersson C, 6’2”, 176 lbs., Skelleftea AIK (SHL)
2013 6th Round, 155th Overall
Pettersson had a great season with Modo of the SHL last season, regardless of team getting relegated to Sweden’s second league after a loss to Filip Forsberg’s Leksands IF.
Quick note: the Google translate attached to Google Chrome will allow you to translate the articles in Swedish without copying and pasting the entire article into a translator.
The lack of an NHL contract is not the worst thing, however, as Pettersson will now be the number one center for SHL’s most dominant club, Skelleftea AIK. If he can have a good season there he will look to make the jump to the Nashville Predators organization. He could be a late bloomer just like Calle Jarnkrok.
2) Patrick Harper C/LW, 5’9”, 161 lbs, headed to Boston University (NCAA)
2016 5th Round, 138th Overall
Patrick Harper showed his incredible offensive skillset at development camp. He’s extremely fast, he has great hands, and he’s not afraid of the bigger players despite his 5-foot-8, 154 pound stature. Juuse Saros even called him a “little Patrick Kane” when asked who impressed him at the development camp scrimmage, though that was more a stylistic comparison than a skill-level one.
Next season he will join 2016 first round picks Clayton Keller (Arizona Coyotes, 7th Overall,) Charlie McAvoy (Boston Bruins, 14th Overall,) Dante Fabbro (Nashville Predators, 17th Overall,) and Keiffer Bellows (New York Islanders, 17th Overall) on a no-doubt stacked Boston University team. That will be a fantastic place for him to develop.
It says a lot that Boston University wants him to play there this season right out of high school (Avon Old Farms) and not go through the USHL; especially given his size. Despite this, expect him to have to navigate through a few bumps in the road in his freshman season. But, overall, he is a very intriguing prospect with that wow factor that makes me think he could very well eventually find himself in the Top 25 Under 25.
3) Tyler Moy C, 6’1”, 194 lbs, Harvard University (NCAA)
2016 6th Round, 175th Overall
Tyler Moy is a very sound player who does everything well. With the departure of Harvard University’s Jimmy Vesey and Kyle Crisculo, he could find himself shouldering much of the load. He did not make the Top 25 Under 25 this time but if he can thrive with that situation he could next summer.
4) Frederick Gaudreau C/RW, 6’0”, 179 lbs., Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
Frederick Gaudreau opened up many eyes last season in Milwaukee and made the AHL All-Star team. He did not make the Top 25 Under 25, however, because I think everyone is still wondering if he is going to be another successful AHL player who doesn’t have what it takes to make it to the NHL. We’ll just have to wait and see.
5) Hardy Haman Aktell LD, 6’3”, 198 lbs., Skelleftea AIK J20 (SuperElit)
2016 4th Round, 108th Overall
Nashville’s 2016 fourth round pick had many of us saying “Hardy who?” The Predators obviously saw something in him to pick him that high so he is definitely worth keeping an eye on as he moves up through the ranks in the Sweden’s most dominant hockey franchise, Skelleftea AIK. He fits perfectly in the mold of the typical Nashville Predator puck moving defensemen.
6) Konstantin Volkov G, 6’3”, 212 lbs, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
2016 6th Round, 168th Overall
Another unknown coming out of the 2016 draft, Konstantin Volkov is worth keeping an eye on for now just because he is an unknown. He could be another sixth round pick who doesn’t do anything or he could be another great late round, diamond in the rough goalie for the Predators. What we do know is he has great size, a solid skillset and an outside shot of making Russia’s U20 squad for the World Junior Championships.
Players Outside the Top 25 Under 25 In Trouble
1) Jonathan Diaby LD, 6’5”, 218 lbs., Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
2013 3rd Round, 64th Overall
Jonathan Diaby came out of the 2013 draft with a lot of promise and he showed continual improvement in the QMJHL for the Victoriaville Tigres up until the time he became a Milwaukee Admiral. In his time in the big leagues, however, he has yet to make an impact and he hasn’t even scored a goal for the Admirals.
Diaby represents somewhat of a dying breed in the NHL as a bigger, fighting (and man is he good at it, below) defenseman with below-average mobility, even for his size. That alone doesn’t make him a bad defenseman but he just doesn’t seem like a player that is going to make an NHL roster.
2) Zach Stepan C, 6’0”, 174 lbs., Minnesota State University Mankoto (NCAA)
2012 4th round, 112th Overall
Not many four year college students who started a year late make it to the NHL; especially those who have had minimal success. Zach Stepan is not looking like he will follow in the steps of his cousin Derek and get to the NHL.
3) Janne Juvonen G, 6’1”, 183 lbs., Lahti Pelicans (Liiga)
2013 7th Round, 203rd Overall
Janne Juvonen had a promising season for the Lahti Pelicans in 2014-2015 and I expected to see him improve on what he did in the following season. That didn’t really happen, however, as Juvonen battled injury throughout the 2015-2016 season.
Turning 22 this October, Juvonen still has plenty of time to develop as a goaltender. He was invited to practice with the Admirals at the end of last season which shows the Predators are at least a little bit invested in him.
4) Joonas Lyytinen LD, 6’0”, 159 lbs., KalPa (Liiga)
2014 5th Round, 132nd Overall
Like Janne Juvonen, Joonas Lyytinen was invited to practice with the Admirals at the end of last season. In his time with Kaalpa, he has been heavily relied upon as a top-pairing defenseman.
The thing that worries me is he has yet to start producing. He is by no means out of contention of being a potential NHL player but his odds definitely aren’t good.
Top 25 Under 25 Rankings Recap
Along with the ranking, I included my personal rankings in parentheses. All players with asterisks next to their name are ones who I would keep a particular eye on this season.
25) Petter Granberg, RD (22)
24) Karel Vejmelka, G (19)
23) Anthony Richard**, LW (12)
This was the biggest departure between my ranking and the group ranking. I view Richard as a very underrated prospect in the Predators’ system and he could play a key role very early in his career in his first season the AHL.
22) Frederic Allard, RD (20)
21) Rem Pitlick**, C/LW (24)
Pitlick will be starting his first season for the University of Minnesota and blew away the competition last season in the USHL scoring race. It will be interesting to see how he will respond now that he’s not 20 pounds bigger than the average player (rough estimation.) Him having to adjust should be expected.
20) Trevor Murphy, RD (17)
19) Justin Kirkland, LW (25)
18) Max Gortz**, RW (23)
Turning 24 in January, Max Gortz is at the make-or-break point in his career. If he doesn’t spend a little bit of time in the NHL this season he could be heading back to Sweden.
17) Austin Watson, RW (18)
16) Tom Novak**, C (16)
Minnesota will look to fill the void star forward Hudson Fasching left when he moved up to the NHL. Novak showed well in his first season in the NCAA and could break out as he takes some of the offensive responsibility Fasching once held.
15) Jack Dougherty, RD (21)
14) Alexandre Carrier**, RD (15)
Alexandre Carrier will be an all-situations player in his first season in the AHL. Watching his growth as he navigates through the new challenges will be interesting.
13) Miikka Salomaki, LW (14)
12) Yakov Trenin**, C (13)
Yakov Trenin’s production was disappointing in his first season in the QMJHL. A year older, look for Trenin to start to produce.
11) Pontus Aberg**, LW (11)
Aberg could challenge for a role in the NHL next season. Keeping an eye on him is a no-brainer.
2016-2017 will be Sissons’ first full season in the NHL.
At 24-years-old most players are entering their prime. Look to see if Jarnkrok can reach another level of offensive production.
Dante Fabbro’s progression in the NCAA will determine how soon he signs a contract with the Predators. He will also participate in the World Junior Championships for Team Canada alongside No. 10 ranked Samuel Girard.
Kamenev’s defensive prowess has been established but he needs to figure out the offensive part in the AHL. He also could get games in the NHL this season.
Kevin Fiala is in a position where he could fight for an NHL spot during training camp. If he can gain consistency in all areas of the ice he will find himself in the NHL full time at some point this season.
Juuse Saros could take over the backup role in the NHL or he could shoulder a lot of the load in the AHL. Regardless, Saros is one of the most interesting prospects the Predators have.
After a bad season in 2015-2016 and a reportedly great summer, look for Ryan Johansen to have a huge comeback offensive season.
1) Filip Forsberg, LW (1)
That concludes the 2016 Top 25 Under 25. Thanks for following along! It’s been real AND it’s been fun. You could say it’s been real fun. The Predators rookie camp is right around the corner so look for a post to go up just before that starts up. The Predators should be adding a new prospect or two to the mix and you’ll have a chance to check out some of the players from this list in person.
All stats via eliteprospects.com.