It’s time for our annual countdown of the best 25 Nashville Predators players under 25 years old.
This is not only a tradition here at OTF, but is also something that you might see at many other SBNation NHL blogs. The premise is simple: rank the 25 best players who have not yet reached their 25th birthday (as of August 1st, 2017).
At #9, Yakov Trenin.
Picked in the aftermath of the Preds’ two-season downturn at the end of the Trotz era, Trenin has long been expected to usher in the new era of offensive talent with his peer, Vladislav Kamenev.
Trenin began his junior career in 2014-15 with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL after being selected in the league’s import draft from Chelyabinsk, Russia. In his rookie season, he appeared in 58 games and posted a very impressive 67 points and 11 more points in 11 playoff games. It was this production that landed Trenin a Preds’ jersey at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
The Predators’ have long been victims or catalysts of the NHL’s supposed ‘Russian problem’ (depending on how you look at it), so drafting two Russian forwards in back-to-back second rounds was an impressive feat. Trenin’s sophomore season in Gatineau was a relative disappointment. He struggled out of the gate on an excellent Olympiques team, but eventually found his footing and finished the season with 26 goals and 61 points in 57 games. Since Trenin is an overage player, his third season in Gatineau was likely his last. He appeared in 54 games and score 30 goals and 67 points (and also took a remarkable 84 penalty minutes), played five games in Milwaukee at the end of Gatineau’s quick playoff run and scored three points, and represented Russia at the World Junior Championships where he scored four points in seven games.
With that all said, the anticipation for Trenin has never been higher as he will head to Milwaukee for his first professional season. He is a natural center, and built like one, but the depth chart for the Admirals could see him playing more wing. He is much bigger than his 6’2”, 205 pound frame would suggest and is adept at playing a strong game in front of the net. What stands out to me about Trenin’s game is his preference to play the game as individual battles. Although at times he could check out during his junior career, he’s almost unbeatable in a puck battle or the faceoff dot when he’s engaged (he won nearly 60% of his draws last season). He shoots at an above average rate, especially for a center his size, and shoots well from the slot scoring at a near 30% rate in high-danger scenarios. His shot map below is a good representation of his tendencies.
This is a pretty interesting map for a center with his range. Typically you find those players on the wall quarterbacking a cycle or powerplay. The interesting thing to note is that he often played wing in his first season of junior and looked largely lost in position at times before moving to center. He also played in mostly all situations for the Olympiques and averaged ice time on par with top pairing defensemen. The point I’m making is that while his production isn’t eye-popping, I think he plays a really unique game - one that could translate well to the NHL and might receive a bump in production once he settles in.
The clip above is a good indication of Trenin’s skillset. First, I’m fairly sure he’s involved in all eight goals which is already impressive. But you get a sense of how he likes to drive to the net with or without the puck. He’s an elite passer with good hockey sense. His defensive game and backchecking ability could be better for how good his stride is, however. He’s used to playing in an up-tempo offense that Gatineau iced during his time there with a corps of high-end, puck-moving defensemen, including Alexandre Carrier. Also, fun fact, Carrier and Frederic Allard scored a goal in the game above, as well.
I think Trenin is fairly close to regular minutes in the NHL. In fact, I wouldn’t be surpised if he earns a call up or two this coming season. Regardless, a season or two in the AHL should be expected.
The first two years of Trenin’s entry-level contract slid due to his play in the QMJHL, so the three-year deal will start this season with a salary of $70 K in the AHL and a cap hit of $730,833 per season for the Predators. Upon expiry, he will be a restricted free agent.