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Nashville Predators Draft Preview: The First Round

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Who should the Predators take 30th overall? Here are a few options.

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

In the wake of the Predators unfortunate Game 6 loss, it’s time we turn our attention to pick #30 of the NHL Draft. The Predators are in a good place with their prospect depth and could take the true “Best Player Available”. However, since the Predators seemed to hit big on defensemen in each of the first three rounds of last year’s draft, it is likely they will look towards grabbing a forward to improve their forward prospect depth. Keep in mind, none of the players that will be available at the Predators pick will be able to jump right into the NHL and contribute. They would all need at least a couple of seasons of development. Here are six players that the Predators could be looking at drafting if they are available at pick #30.

Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane Chiefs - WHL

  • Height: 5’11”
  • Weight: 191 lbs
  • 39G-37A-76Pts in 72GP
  • Plays like: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

With a need for centre depth, the Predators could look at Anderson-Dolan, a goal scoring centreman who uses his speed to create offense. He boasts a dangerous shot that he uses extremely well while he is at top speed while on the rush, a quality that is exciting to see from a player in junior. He has developed a strong two-way game, and has shown improvement in his defensive game, with improved positioning and awareness, as well as improving his faceoffs. He transitions the puck well and creates offense with his speed while rushing out of his zone. Anderson-Dolan served as an alternate captain this year, and is regarded as a well-respected leader for the Chiefs. He could potentially slide in as the second line centre for the Predators after a few years of development.

Robert Thomas, C, London Knights - OHL

  • Height: 5’11.5”
  • Weight: 193 lbs
  • 16G-50A-66Pts in 66GP
  • Plays like: Bo Horvat

Another potential fit and centre could be Thomas, a smooth and cerebral centreman who is as strong defensively as he is offensively. Thomas sees passing lanes and anticipates the play very well, and is smooth when controlling and distributing the puck. He has soft hands and makes smart reads in all three zones, understands the game, and rarely makes mistakes anywhere on the ice. Thomas is always aware of defensive assignments and is in the correct position to make plays defensively. His offensive game became stronger as the season went on, and could continue to grow even more. He could slide in as a middle-six centre for the Predators, and contribute on both the power play and penalty kill.

Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo Black Hawks - USHL

  • Height: 6’1.5”
  • Weight: 178 lbs
  • 22G-29A-51Pts in 60GP
  • Plays like: Jonathan Toews

Bowers is as close to a guarantee as you could get at pick #30. He has a fantastic approach to the game, and it is hard to find a single flaw in his game. Bowers does everything well, but is not exceptional at anything. He could almost certainly become a second line centre, and at the very worst would end up as a third liner. Bowers plays well in all three zones, he is responsible defensively and creative offensively. He plays a smart game, and helps make his linemates around him better. He’s a high-floor prospect that could be beneficial to the Predators centre prospect depth.

Kailer Yamamoto, C/RW, Spokane Chiefs - WHL

  • Height: 5’7.5”
  • Weight: 146 lbs
  • 42G-57A-99Pts in 65GP
  • Plays like: Johnny Gaudreau

In all likelihood, Yamamoto will be long gone by pick number 30. The elusive, dynamic offensive weapon has just about everything you want for a top line winger to have. Yamamoto boasts a wicked shot, as well as dynamic playmaking ability. Once he enters the offensive zone, every one of his teammates is open because of his terrific vision. His defensive game is not particularly impressive, but he is not a liability either. Yamamoto’s measurements at the NHL combine, especially weighing 146 lbs, could cause him to slip in the first round. If he fell far enough to reach Nashville’s pick, David Poile would probably be willing to gamble on him, especially since he has drafted small players in previous drafts (Viktor Arvidsson, Patrick Harper, Sam Girard, Juuse Saros). If he happens to fall due to his measurements, he would be an absolute steal for the Nashville Predators, as a dynamic Johnny Gaudreau-esque offensive weapon.

He’s a human highlight-reel, so enjoy!

Jonah Gadjovich, LW, Owen Sound Attack - OHL

  • Height: 6’1”
  • Weight: 198 lbs
  • 46G-28A-74Pts in 60GP
  • Plays like: Patric Hornqvist

Gadjovich is a big winger who plays a very strong game. He plays netfront on the powerplay, similar to Patric Hornqvist’s role, and was one of Owen Sound’s top penalty killers. Gadjovich fell just short of having a 50-goal year because of how strong and smart he plays in front of the net on the power play. He has great hand-eye coordination and creates a ton of deflections, and is smart with his positioning and anticipation to get to rebounds and get the puck past the goalie. This is a role that is easier said than done, and something that the Predators power play has desperately needed. Gadjovich is also a strong defensive winger, aware of his job in the defensive zone as well as actively looking to block shots on the penalty kill. He would not be a “sexy” pick for the Predators, but he would fill a need that they have as a depth winger and a key special teams player.

Jason Robertson, RW, Kingston Frontenacs - OHL

  • Height: 6’2”
  • Weight: 195 lbs
  • 42G-39A-81Pts in 68GP
  • Plays like: James Van Riemsdyk

Kingston struggled to produce offense in 2016-17. They scored 179 goals the whole season, which was last in the OHL. Robertson, with 42 goals, scored about 23% of Kingston’s goals. He produced terrific offensive numbers on a team that struggled to create offense. Robertson is a smart goal-scoring winger with a lethal shot. He has soft hands, which he uses in traffic to get the puck in a spot where he can use his deadly release. He is a bigger-bodied winger, but does not play a powerful game like a traditional power forward. Robertson’s strong suit is his shot, and that will always be his game. He lacks power, and is not a very strong defensive player, but he’s a goal scorer who has a knack for making his shot available and finding the back of the net. Robertson could potentially fit on the Predators as a second-line goal scoring winger, who plays on the power play and is put in situations where he can use his shot.