Round 1, Pick 30: Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City Musketeers - USHL
Weight: 189 lbs
30G-24A-54Pts in 52GP
Follow on Twitter: @eeli1999
Tolvanen was considered by many as one of the best pure snipers in the entire draft, and was widely thought of as a surefire top-15 pick. The Predators benefitted from his surprising fall down the first round, and found themselves a gold-mine win at pick #30. Tolvanen is an elite sniper, who generates a ridiculous amount of shots and uses his incredible release to blow pucks past opposing goalies. He’s a quick player, who uses his speed to create offense off the rush. Tolvanen has every trait you want from a pure goalscorer, shooting with great power and incredible accuracy. He is a left-handed shot, who plays on his off-wing to make his shot available at all times. Even though he is seen as a smaller winger, he has a solid build and doesn’t get pushed around often. Tolvanen’s defensive game does need work, but he plays a similar game to Nikita Kucherov and has all of the potential to be an elite goalscorer.
Tolvanen was originally committed to attend Boston College, but was rejected by their Admissions Department. His rights are currently being held by the Oshawa Generals of the OHL. Next season, Tolvanen now has the choice of joining the Generals or going straight to the Milwaukee Admirals in the AHL. Both are good options for Tolvanen’s development, and he could see NHL time as soon as the following season due to his pro-ready shot and goal scoring sense.
Pick Grade: A+
Round 2, Pick 61: Grant Mismash, C/LW, USNTDP
Weight: 183 lbs
26G-35A-61Pts in 65GP
Follow on Twitter: @GMish16
Mismash is another player who dropped farther than expected. He was expected to go very early in the second round, and many thought he had a chance to sneak into the first round. The Predators benefitted from another unexpected fall, and selected Mismash at pick #61. Boasting a heavy wrist-shot, Mismash proved to be an effective goalscorer as well as a physical presence. He plays hard, and isn’t afraid to get dirty and play a power forward game. He has great hands and is a smooth puck handler, but his strongest offensive asset is his wrist-shot. Mismash excels at playing catch-and-shoot (releasing his wrist-shot immediately after receiving a pass), and has a knack for scoring goals. The defensive side of his game needs coaching, but his passion and willingness to improve should help him become a stronger defensive player. Mismash will never drive play up ice, but is a very effective player once play is established in the offensive zone. He plays like a Boone Jenner-type player, a physical presence who has the offensive ability to be a potential 30-goal scorer.
Mismash is committed to the University of North Dakota for next season. In all likelihood he won’t be on the NHL radar for the next couple years, he will most likely play the college game for the next two seasons, before making to jump to Milwaukee. He has all the tools to be a strong middle-six forward for the Predators, and will most likely stick in the NHL once his time comes.
Pick Grade: A
Round 3, Pick 92: David Farrance, D, USNTDP
Weight: 187 lbs
7G-30A-37Pts in 64GP
Follow on Twitter: @davidfarrance
The first defenseman picked by the Predators, Farrance is a puck-moving defenseman who’s strongest asset is his skating. Although a bit undersized, Farrance is a terrific skater who trusts his legs to keep himself out of trouble. He’s a smooth skater who always looks calm while moving the puck up the ice. He is smart in the offensive zone, has great vision, and is effective on the powerplay. Farrance can lead the rush out of his zone, and can make clean breakout passes to teammates moving up ice. He isn’t overly physical while defending and needs to improve his strength, which will come naturally with his development. Farrance shows a lot of similarities to Roman Josi, they are both beautiful skaters who each use their skating to defend and transition to offense. They also both quarterback a powerplay more so than being the main trigger-man.
Farrance is a Boston University commit, and next season he will join Predators 2016 first round pick Dante Fabbro on BU’s backend. Farrance will most likely follow a similar plan to Mismash, playing two years in college before transitioning to the AHL. With the strength of the current Predators defense, there is no rush for Farrance to play in the NHL until he is comfortable and ready.
Pick Grade: A
Round 5, Pick 154: Tomas Vomacka, G, Corpus Christi IceRays - NAHL
Weight: 172 lbs
Nation: Czech Republic
2.43 GAA - .923 Save% in 41GP
Follow on Twitter: @vomacka2
Vomacka is the biggest wildcard pick from the Predators draft class. He is a tall, lanky goalie who moved to the United States to play in a smaller league, the NAHL. Vomacka put up impressive numbers in his rookie year, flashing potential and earning Goaltender of the Year for his division. He’s athletic and very physically talented, but he’s largely an unknown as the NAHL is tough to find video for and there hasn’t been much talk about him from scouts. This aura of “unknown” makes Vomacka seem like a bit of a reach in the fifth round, but he has all of the measurables and athleticism to become a starting goalie in the NHL. The Predators have a great track record of drafting European goalies, so it is easy to trust this pick even given the unknown.
Vomacka is a University of Connecticut commit, but will most likely play a year in the USHL next season to have more playing time and improve his development. The following year he will play for UConn, and from there move on through Milwaukee to Nashville. Vomacka is a project, and will most likely not see the NHL in the foreseeable future.
Pick Grade: C+
Round 6, Pick 176: Pavel Koltygin, C, Drummondville Voltigeurs - QMJHL
Weight: 192 lbs
22G-25A-47Pts in 65GP
Koltygin is another value pick for the Predators, with many thinking he could have been drafted as early as the third or fourth round. Playing for a poor team, Koltygin jumped out to a great start and turned heads early in the season. He is an exciting offensive player, he's a good skater who has great hands, vision, and offensive awareness. Koltygin possesses the abilities to be both a playmaker and a goalscorer. Koltygin is creative in the offensive zone and has all of the traits of a top-six playmaking centre. However, he struggles in his own zone because of his poor defensive awareness, and he doesn’t put much effort into defending, which could be a big reason why he dropped to the sixth round. Koltygin is an exciting offensive player who has the potential to develop into an offensive-minded second line centre.
Koltygin will return to Drummondville of the QMJHL, most likely for the next two seasons. After juniors, he will have to spend time in Milwaukee to become stronger and smarter in his defensive zone. Koltygin is a long-term prospect, who will most likely not see NHL action until a few years down the road.
Pick Grade: B+
Round 7-216: Jacob Paquette, D, Kingston Frontenacs - OHL
Weight: 207 lbs
1G-9A-10Pts in 59GP
Follow on Twitter: JPaquette28
To close out their draft class the Predators made another great value pick selecting Paquette, a defensive defenseman out of the OHL. Although he was affected by an injury early in the season, Paquette is a big, strong defenseman who already has the measurables of an NHLer. He has great defensive awareness, and has great positioning in his own end. Paquette rarely makes mistakes in his own end and he’s a shutdown defender who wins one-on-one battles along the boards and in front of the net. Paquette makes little impact in the offensive zone, which is why he fell to the seventh round. As the NHL transitions to the more modern puck-moving defenders, players like Paquette have seen their stocks take a hit. But don’t let his draft positioning fool you, he is a strong defensive defenseman who has the size and smarts to make an impact in the NHL.
Paquette will return to Kingston in the OHL for the next two seasons. He will continue to get stronger and improve, and it would not be surprising if Paquette spends little time in the AHL, as he already has the size, strength, and smarts to be effective as a third-pair shutdown defender.
Pick Grade: A-
Overall Draft Grade: A
The Predators had a fantastic draft, taking advantage of multiple players that unexpectedly fell to them. They covered their organizational depth needs and got tremendous value in their picks. The Tolvanen and Mismash picks were robberies, and the two defensemen drafted have potential to be solid NHL players. This is arguably the Predators best draft class in years. David Poile, Jeff Kealty, and the rest of the Predators organization has to be thrilled with how it worked out.