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Options For The Nashville Predators’ 89th Overall Pick

The Predators aren’t picking until the 3rd round, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be a good player available.

Jan Jenik - 2018 Draft eligible prospect
Bili Tygri Liberec

The Predators not selecting until 89th overall this Saturday at the 2018 NHL Entry Draft has made my job significantly harder. Last year, with the Preds picking 27th overall, the options were more apparent, even more so than they were originally scheduled to be once Eeli Tolvanen fell down the draft board. But, at 89th overall, anything can happen.

Below is an analysis of who the organization should draft in the third round broken into three categories: players who may fall, players who should be there no matter what, and players who may rise. This analysis will not only take into account who will be available, but who has the best ability to become a regular NHL player.

As a disclaimer, I prefer payers with high-end skill. I am a religious believer in taking the best player available, but there may be some consideration of position based on the organization’s needs.

With that said, enjoy!

Falling Stock

These are players who are unlikely to be available but whose stock may fall for various reasons.

Height: 6’2”

Weight: 192 lbs.

Shoots: Left

Ranked: #18 (NA Skaters) - NHL Central Scouting

Stat Line: 53 GP / 23 G / 14 A / 37 PTS

I would be pleasantly surprised if Ranta is still available at 89, and, if so, the Predators should pounce. He is a draft year-plus-one player who is committed to Wisconsin next season. Yes, he didn’t light up the USHL like Eeli Tolvanen or Rem Pitlick did, but he has solid potential.

Ranta possesses a heavy, well-placed wrist shot and decent passing ability. He makes plays well at high speeds and can be counted on on a power play and penalty kill.

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 203 lbs.

Shoots: Left

Ranked: #37 (EU Skaters) - NHL Central Scouting

Stat Line: 31 GP / 1 G / 3 A / 4 PTS

Westfalt has been quickly moving up draft boards lately so, again, I would be shocked to see him at 89. 4 points in 31 games is misleading, because, he also posted 27 points in 26 games for Byrnas IF J20 in the Super Elit. Westfalt played an impressive 78 total games this season and rarely missed a beat.

He is one of the more physically mature players in the draft and that can be a premium on the wing. He is a very solid player in all regards: skating, puck-handling, passing, etc. He is a smooth player who takes good notice of passing lanes and uses a drawn-out skating stride to evade defenders.

Honorable Mentions: Adam Mascherin [C], Alexander Khovanov [C], Allan McShane [C], Albin Eriksson [LW]

Right Where We Want Them

These are players initially projected to be available at 89th overall.

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 170 lbs.

Shoots: Left

Ranked: #66 (EU Skaters) - NHL Central Scouting

Stat Line: 37 GP / 24 G / 40 A / 64 PTS

As you can see in the stat line above, Okuliar dominated the junior league in Slovakia this season. What’s even more impressive? He did the same on the U18 team last year and the year before that. At the U18 World Junior Championship this season, Okuliar notched 4 goals and 8 points in only 5 games elevating him into a serious top-100 draft pick.

Okuliar would no doubt be a project pick, but he does have fantastic skating skills. His puck-handling isn’t much to write home about, but he has a solid wrist shot, good neutral zone maneuverability, and massive upside. I have him rated much higher than most, so I think he could be one of the steals of the draft.

Height: 6’0”

Weight: 172 lbs.

Shoots: Left

Ranked: #46 (NA Skaters) - NHL Central Scouting

Stat Line: 61 GP / 28 G / 32 A / 60 PTS

Gruden reminds me a bit of Grant Mismash with a tad less creativity. He is a strong skater with good puck protection skills, is fantastic at forcing errors on the forecheck, provides decent puck support in the offensive zone, and has a tendency to creep down low in the defensive zone to break up opposing cycles. He put up impressive numbers this season playing second-line minutes for the USNTDP.

Gruden is committed to the University of Miami at Ohio next season. His CHL rights are owned by the London Knights.

Height: 6’1”

Weight: 165 lbs.

Shoots: Left

Ranked: #16 (EU Skaters) - NHL Central Scouting

Stat Line: 30 GP / 4 G / 7 A / 11 PTS

Jenik is the youngest players in this draft, and that helps his upside. 11 points in 30 professional games as a 17-year-old makes me reminisce about Filip Chytil from a year ago. Add 7 goals and 9 points in 12 games at the U18-WJC, and you’ve got an impressive third-round pick.

Jenik is a very solid two-way center who displays good success in one-on-one battles. He shoots well from the middle of the ice and can pass well. He doesn’t have great control of his skating yet, but his ceiling is very promising.

Our friend Patrick Bexell (@Zeb_Habs) has a great write up on him here.

Honorable Mentions: Xavier Bernard [D], Santeri Salmela [D], Kyle Topping [C], Martin Fehervary [D], Carl Wassenius [C]

Maybe a Reach?

These players could be a stretch but maybe it pays off.

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 203 lbs.

Shoots: Right

Ranked: #81 (NA Skaters) - NHL Central Scouting

Stat Line: 61 GP / 21 G / 28 A / 49 PTS

Like many of the players above, Kotkov has been ranked all over the place. He could be a lock in the 80s or he could slip into the third round. He was a consistent scorer in his first year in the QMJHL with more limited ice time.

Kotkov is a huge body who utilizes a long skating stride with good power. He has above-average hands for his size and can be dominate on the perimeter of the offensive zone. His wingspan helps in the defensive zone, but there are concerns about his ability to react against quicker opponents.

Honorable Mentions: Anderson MacDonald [LW], Ryan Chyzowski [LW], Kristian Kovacik [C]

All stats are courtesy of