Dante Fabbro, D (ESPN prospect ranking: #21)
Drafted: 1st round, 2016 — Current team: Boston University
There is a certain amount of pressure that comes along with being a first-round draft pick. After being selected 17th overall in 2016, many jumped aboard the Fabbro hype-wagon. The 6-foot-1, 192-pound defenseman certainly looks the part, however, only putting up 18 points in 36 games at Boston University has me a little concerned.
On the bright side, he did get some valuable experience at the Under-20 World Junior Championships this year. Canada did lose to the United States, but Fabbro looked solid. Give him another year at BU, then a year in Milwaukee, and I think we could be looking at another Mattias Ekholm-type defenseman.
Vladislav Kamenev, C (ESPN prospect ranking: 39)
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2014 — Current team: Milwaukee Admirals
Vladislav Kamenev has had an admirable, but not eye popping season with the Nashville Predators AHL affiliate. He has taken on an elevated role and has been decently productive, though at less than two shots a game he could stand to take better advantage of his shot. Furthermore, he earned his first NHL call up in the winter and was able to get a taste of what it would be like in the NHL.
For me, it will all come down to how well he transitions to the NHL down the road which hopefully will be next season if the opportunity presents itself. The 21-year-old season (next season for Kamenev) has proven to be a massive year for NHL centers. Almost all top six centers make a pretty fair impact (at least 30 points) at the NHL level at that age.
Sam Girard, D (ESPN prospect ranking: 53)
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2016 — Current team: Milwaukee Admirals
Samuel Girard picked up right where he left off last season and got off to a very hot start. For the first twenty games or so he led QMJHL players in points per game, but his production tapered off to more realistic numbers. Interestingly enough, both he and Frederic Allard were in the top three in points by a defenseman in the QMJHL. Disappointingly, however, he was passed over for Canada’s World Junior Championship team.
Samuel Girard displays superb speed, escapability, smarts and playmaking as a defenseman. His defensive work and shot could definitely use some work, however, before he makes it to the NHL. In the future, I see him having a good end of the season in the AHL, being hugely productive in his final QMJHL season, and playing a big role in the 2018 World Juniors. He certainly has high offensive upside at the NHL level.
Yakov Trenin, C (ESPN prospect ranking: 120)
Drafted: 2nd round, 2015 — Current team: Gatineau Olympiques (expected to join Milwaukee Admirals soon)
While in the QMJHL, Trenin showcased his elite-level passing. Tallying 67 points, he is a dynamic offensive forward at the center position - something Nashville has been craving for years.
He won a bronze medal in the U20 World Junior Championships with Russia. With the Gatineau Olympiques’ season now over, expect Trenin to head to Milwaukee and provide a boost — along with Sam Girard — to the Admirals’ playoff run.
Alex Carrier, D
Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 — Current team: Milwaukee Admirals
Alex Carrier has always been known as a steady presence both on and off the ice, and it is that steadiness that I believe has allowed him to transition to the AHL with such ease. Like Vladislav Kamenev, he was able to make the AHL All Star Team in his first season with the Milwaukee Admirals. He even was able to make his NHL debut this season.
What I really like about Carrier is he plays a new age two-way style. He isn’t a big bruiser with offensive upside. Rather, he is a leaner player who defends well with his stick, skates well, moves the puck up the ice, and is able to put points up on the board. I see real NHL upside in Carrier.
Pontus Aberg, RW
Drafted: 2nd round, 2012 — Milwaukee Admirals
Aberg is one of the few Milwaukee Admirals to have gotten a taste of the NHL this year. Although he only scored two points in 15 games, he is tied for 1st in the AHL in goals with 31.
He is rapidly approaching the point where he is too good to stay in the AHL. He did get some playoff experience last season in place of Nashville fan favorite, Mike Ribeiro. I’d expect to see Aberg get the first call up in the playoffs should they need reinforcements, and I would expect to see him in the NHL full time next year.
Frederick Gaudreau, C/W
Drafted: Undrafted — Current team: Milwaukee Admirals
Frederick Gaudreau may just be the most underrated player in the Nashville system. He is versatile enough to play center and wing, and plays a solid two-way game. According to Daniel Lavender of Adsroundtable, he and Pontus Aberg have been phenomenal this season.
Look for Gaudreau to possibly contend for a full-time spot in Nashville next season. He already showed he could handle the bright lights, having played in nine games in the big league this season. He could be a potential fourth liner next year with some combination of Colton Sissons, Austin Watson or Miika Salomaki.
Patrick Harper, C
Drafted: 5th Round, 2016 — Current team: Boston University
Patrick Harper has one of the higher offensive upsides of any Nashville Predators prospect in the system right now. With a huge first season with Boston University and having made the 2017 USA World Juniors team the Avon Old Farms product has proven to be a diamond in the rough for the Predators regardless of his NHL impact. There are usually only 2-5 NCAA rookies in that point per game range in a given season, and while that certainly provides no guarantee of future success at higher levels it is certainly shows what a good start Harper has had.
The thing that really has impressed me about Patrick Harper is the escapabaility he has and the underlying hockey sense it points to. His playmaking is a huge asset and his shot is serviceable, but it’s that escapability while on the move or playing along the boards that provides him with the biggest chance of making it to the NHL. It’s the same trait that allows Johnny Gaudreau to have the success he has against even the biggest of players. The assist below from Harper at 0:48 is a great example of that. The New Hampshire defenseman barely gets a hand on Harper as he blows by.
Rem Pitlick, LW
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 — Current team: University of Minnesota
Rem Pitlick came into the 2016-2017 with much interest, as he transitioned to NCAA hockey with the Minnesota Golden Gophers after a massive USHL season. It took some time for him to transition to that level, but after getting moved onto a line with Justin Kloos and Tyler Sheehy he started to blossom. Both players are highly skilled offensive players so you have to attribute some of Pitlick’s production to them.
He was able to lean on his fantastic line mates this year to help him with his production, but I want to see him hit his stride on his own next season. He will certainly continue to have great linemates (potentially 2017 top 5 pick Casey Mittelstadt), but he needs to start carrying even more of the load. Below you can see Pitlick “doing what he does best.” He puts himself in good position for a pass and shoots cross-body with a nice quick release.
Frederic Allard, D
Drafted: 3rd round, 2016 — Current team: Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Dante Fabbro and Sam Girard get most of the notoriety among Preds blueline prospects, and rightfully so. However, Frederic Allard is just as dynamic. Selected in the same draft as the previously mentioned defensemen, Allard’s 65 points falls in line with the prototypical Nashville mold of offensively skilled defenseman.
Although he is still in the junior league, Allard is developing quite nicely. The 2016 draft could rival the 2003 draft that produced Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Kevin Klein. Nashville has an embarrassment of riches in the defensive pipeline with Fabbro, Girard, Carrier and Allard.
Jack Dougherty, D
Drafted: 2nd round, 2014 — Current team: Milwaukee Admirals
Dougherty is a defenseman that gets lost in the shuffle with the big-name prospects the Preds have on defense. However, the 2014 second-round pick has the potential to be a solid defenseman at the next level.
Yes, he only scored one goal and 11 points, but it was also his first full season with the Admirals. Contrary to popular belief, not every Nashville defensive prospect blows the doors off their first time out. Patience is a virtue for Dougherty.
Tyler Moy, C
Drafted: 6th Round, 2015 — Current team: Harvard University
Tyler Moy has always been a solid two-way player for the Harvard Crimson, but this year in his senior season he has provided them with a massive dynamic boost. With 44 points in just 35 games, his silky smooth hands (lauded as the best on the team) and hard, accurate wrist shot have given him the tools he needs to produce. In the video below you can see Tyler Moy’s ability to pick his spots with a snipe from an angle he had no business scoring from.
The tools are there for him to be a great two-way player with solid offensive productivity in the NHL, but his production has held him back in recent years. As he likely makes the move to Milwaukee once the Frozen Four ends I am interested to see whether he has finally figured everything out and continues to produce in the AHL or if he was merely taking advantage of less skilled NCAA competition.