We continue with our monthly recaps as part of our new coverage for On The Future! We will be providing short need-to-knows about everyone in the Preds’ system. Follow us on Twitter!
I’m going to go ahead and apologize for the doom and gloom in regards to this month’s report on NCAA prospects. It’s been a rough month for them... - Bryant
Dante Fabbro, D, Boston University
Injured through most of the World Juniors, Dante Fabbro was not quite on his game though Team Canada was able to win gold at the World Juniors. Fabbro was recently not shown as listed on Corey Pronman’s top 50 prospects, which Eeli Tolvanen and Patrick Harper were, in fact, a part of. Pronman attributes this to Fabbro’s lack of confident puck moving and so-so skating. This is both fair and concerning.
David Farrance, D, Boston University
In an interesting turn of events, David Farrance has been shifted up to wing for Boston University, which can be attributed to both Boston University’s depth at defense as well as Farrance’s trouble transitioning to NCAA hockey. A lot was expected from him out of the gate after a great World Junior summer showcase, but it has been an adjustment for him this season. Farrance has 2 points thus far in 17 games.
Patrick Harper, F, Boston University
Patrick Harper played a third line role for team USA at the World Juniors. There were times where he showed flashes of game-breaking potential and there were also times where he was neutralized because of his size. As alluded to before, Harper was listed as Pronman’s 50th best NHL prospect. Though Harper’s size playing a negative role at the World Juniors is concerning, there is certainly a chance he can get past that and be an effective offensive player in the NHL. His skill and escapability are absolutely amazing when he’s on.
Grant Mismash, F, University of North Dakota
Grant Mismash got off to a very hot start, but has tapered off since then. He was even relegated to the fourth line Friday (1/19) night. I would just write this off as a Freshman year adjustment, as he is a fantastic prospect with a lot of potential. Many thought he deserved a spot on the US World Junior team, and he will certainly get consideration next season. He has 5 goals and 9 assists in 22 games this season.
Tommy Novak, F, University of Minnesota
Tommy Novak has 19 points in 23 games this season which is quite impressive for the Golden Gopher’s junior. The biggest question surrounding him is whether or not this translates to professional production. He’s doing enough at the NCAA level to make it to the pros, but that’s where the big questions come into play. It’ll be interesting to see if he decides to sign with Nashville after this season or holds out and potentially becomes a free agent after his senior year.
Rem Pitlick, F, University of Minnesota
Linemates with Buffalo Sabres prospect and phenom Casey Mittelstadt, Pitlick saw a sharp drop off in production after Mittelstadt’s departure to team USA for the World Juniors. Though that is certainly to be expected with Mittelstadt’s skill, it is still not a good sign that Pitlick’s production went from a point a game to essentially nothing. This has big implications with regards to whether he signs with Nashville this summer or not.
Adam Smith, D, Bowling Green State University
Adam Smith has no points this season for Bowling Green in 26 games. That is your update ladies and gents.
Juniors - CHL, USHL
Pavel Koltygin, F, Drummondville Voltigeurs [QMJHL]
Koltygin’s up-and-down season has continued for the Voltigeurs. He continues to score at a slightly improved point-per-game pace than his first season in the QMJHL in 2016-17, but his goal totals have seen a steep drop-off: he only has 11 through 41 games after scoring 22 in 65 games last year. The contending Voltigeurs brought in potential top-5 pick Joe Veleno early in December. Consequently, Koltygin has seen some time centering the fourth line as Veleno has slotted into his natural position down the middle.
Jacob Paquette, D, Kingston Frontenacs [OHL]
Paquette’s limited offensive production has slowed down since the beginning of the season. He’s two points away from besting his ten point total from last season. Much like the Voltigeurs, the Fronts stocked up at the OHL trade deadline bringing in Gabe Vilardi (LAK), Cliff Pu (BUF), Max Jones (SJS), and Sean Day (NYR). With Day coming over as an offensive producer, Paquette has been playing with Conor Ali lately on a solid, shut-down pairing.
Tomas Vomacka, G, Lincoln Stars [USHL]
The Lincoln Stars started off the season hot but have since fallen below .500. Vomacka holds a 7-11-0 record as a starter. What’s encouraging for the first-year junior player is he has faced the sixth most shots of starting goalies in the USHL, but his save percentage and goals-against average are sitting at the slightly above-average mark league-wide.
Taylor Aronson, D, Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers [DEL]
Aronson’s Ice Tigers are currently at the top of the German DEL and he’s put up 26 points in 40 games. I know it’s weird tracking a prospect that is highly unlikely to come back to the organization, but Aronson was always an intriguing talent and the German league is quite a bit of fun to watch.
Victor Ejdsell, F, HV71 [SHL]
Ejdsell has responded nicely from his second scoring drought of the season. He recorded only one assist from December 2nd to January 4th, but he has since scored four goals and six points in three games. Despite his hot-and-cold scoring, Ejdsell’s transition to the SHL has been highly productive. Viktor Arvidsson played one full season in the SHL and scoring 0.8 points-per-game as a 21-year-old. Ejdsell is 22 and scoring about 0.63 points-per-game. I don’t think this throws out any idea Ejdsell comes to Milwaukee next season, but I imagine he’ll develop there much longer than Arvidsson had to.
Stefan Elliott, D, HV71 [SHL]
Elliott has continued to produce for HV71 in the SHL, and he was rewarded for it. Elliott will represent Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Hardy Haman Aktell, D, Skelleftea AIK J20 [SuperElit]
The long-awaited update on Hardy Haman Aktell: he’s alive! Aktell has finally come back from injury for Skelleftea and has played in two games thus far (his 32nd and 33rd in three seasons). Here’s proof from Predators’ scout Janne Kekalainen below. Watch out for more on Aktell on our next Prospects’ Report.
Eeli Tolvanen, F, Jokerit [KHL]
Unless you’re living under a rock, you probably heard that Tolvanen finally broke Evgeny Kuznetzov’s KHL scoring record for a U19 player. He’s had only one game back in the Jokerit lineup after playing a quiet but forceful World Junior Championship for Team Finland. Tolvanen had six points in five games but a whopping 30 shots on net. Also, Jokerit recently clinched their playoff spot so pump the brakes on Tolvanen coming to Nashville right away in March.
Karel Vejmelka, G, HC Kometa Brno/ HK Dukla Jihlava [Czech]
Vejmelka has continued to post good numbers while being spread out across the Czech Republic. He was loaned to HC Dukla Jihlava while both of their goalies represented the Czech Republic at the World Junior Championship. Below are highlights from his latest start. His adjustments look quick; the second goal was not great, but, overall, I think he’s ready for North America soon.
Konstantin Volkov, G, SKA-1946/ SKA Neva [MHL/ VHL]
SKA-1946 has been on a lengthy holiday break playing only four games in the past month. Consequently, Volkov hasn’t seen a start in some time. Not much to report here.
The Admirals’ December was a good show of what their entire has been: inconsistent. They started the month with three straight losses, only strung two wins back-to-back once, and ultimately went 5-4-4. The Ad’s division has also been tough to comprehend. They currently sit at 5th, but the points percentages for teams 2 through 5 in the division are .571, .570, .570, and .561.
In terms of individual players, those worth mentioning remain the same: Bobby Butler, Emil Pettersson, Harry Zolnierczyk, and Anders Lindback. Butler will represent the U.S. at the Olympics and leads the team in scoring, Pettersson and Lindback will represent Milwaukee at the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic in Utica next week, and Harry Z is quietly putting together a nice offensive season.
Now for the bad stuff. Yakov Trenin and Tyler Kelleher have fallen victim to unfortunate injury. The defense has struggled with a few bright spots. And players like Tyler Moy and Justin Kirkland just aren’t producing.
There are two players I’m looking forward to watching moving forward: Anthony Richard and Trevor Murphy. I had mild expectations for Richard going into this season, but I really feel like he’s playing well and is about to breakout next year. I had Murphy as the lowest defenseman ranked over the summer on my Top 25 Under 25. If I re-did the last right now (maybe I will?) I think he’s easily number one. He’s put together such a complete season to date, and I will continue to argue both him and Jack Dougherty are closer to being full-time NHL players than Alexandre Carrier.
One other note: it’s hard not to contemplate Dean Evason’s future in Milwaukee. He’s been behind the bench since 2012 and has lost in the first round of the playoffs in 4 of 5 years - the other of which the Admirals did not make the playoffs. There’s always a strong debate between the necessity for an AHL to win if they are producing players for the big club, but regardless, if the Admirals don’t put together a strong second half maybe a change is on the horizon.
The Predators’ ECHL relationship has been notably rocky this season. There’s not much remaining to be completely honest. Angelo Miceli has gone overseas to Austria and Joonas Lyytinen and Frederic Allard have been spending more time in Milwaukee this season. Something of note, Preds’ off-season signee Matt O’Connor has been lit up this year at all levels. He’s currently on loan with the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL, has a 0-8-2 record, a 4.51 GAA, and a 0.869 save-percentage. It seems the organization’s North American goaltending depth is still a severe problem.