A loose selection of players hereafter referred to as “rookies” took to the ice this weekend in Antioch, facing off against Tampa Bay’s best and brightest. Many of these players aren’t actually Nashville property, instead attending camp on tryout agreements, hoping to catch someone’s eye or perhaps get a contract with a minor league organization. Others may even pick up a contract the big club itself.
The first game was a very back and forth affair, with the Preds trading off momentum with Tampa Bay. The Preds rookies played with a lot of pace and creativity, especially on the back end, but were less effective down low in their own zone. Their scrambly play, combined with some positioning issues from the goaltender, led to two very preventable goals against. On the positive side, the defense played a very dynamic system that mimicked the one used in Nashville to some success, and there are a few pieces on forward that should add some well-needed Milwaukee depth.
The rematch, on the other hand, was a much sleepier affair, with few passes connecting on either side. The Tampa rookies managed to convert on most of their chances, but the Predators only mustered one goal despite multiple power play opportunities including a 5-on-3. The Preds tried to get some energy going, with first Christian Hilbrich dropping the gloves with Oleg Sosunov after he'd gotten a bit fresh with Mathieu Olivier, and then Olivier himself engaging against Erik Cernak. Positves from this game: they still killed it in the shootout.
Player That Impressed
Tyler Moy: Out of all the rookie forwards in camp, he seems to have the biggest chance of making the big club eventually. He has very skilled hands and is a very smart player, always in the right spot.
Player that Disappointed
Justin Kirkland: At this stage of his development, he should be running circles around the ‘98 borns that Tampa brought to Nashville, but he just isn’t. He’s defensively sound and workmanlike, but he lacks that something extra.
Player to Watch
Tyler Kelleher: He’s a tiny guy and this is just rookie camp, but he has a lot of skill and speed in a tiny frame. Time will tell if he’s a Viktor Arvidsson or just a Steve Moses, but he has no issue with physical play and working against the boards at least.