Breaking down Nashville’s selections in the 2019 Draft, Part I
What exactly is Nashville taking home from their eight new prospects?
Behind the buzz of the trade that shocked the NHL landscape on Saturday, the Nashville Predators made eight selections at the 2019 NHL Entry Draft to add to their previously thin prospect pipeline.
I’ve written extensively about a few of those picks already, tabbing them as smart options for Nashville ahead of the weekend, but below I’ve parsed out a full breakdown and scouting report of each new prospect. This story has been broken into two parts, with four of the eight prospects profiled below.
I enlisted the help of our resident analytics guru, Bryan (@projpatsummitt) to use data from Manny Perry, Prashanth Iyer, and Colin Cudmore and visualize how these draft picks project out in the future. Manny has created a Wins Above Replacement model, Prashanth has built a similar model including pre-draft seasons, and Colin compiled draft rankings from 60 different sources.
With those projection visualizations established, continue below to dive into a thorough scouting report on each player.
Alexander Campbell - F - 65th Overall
Victoria Grizzlies [BCHL] - 2001 - Chateauguay, Quebec
Campbell was selected with the second pick that Nashville acquired from Philadelphia when moving down from 34th overall. He is perhaps known as one-third of the most dominant line in the BCHL last season: Alex Newhook, Riley Hughes, and himself. Newhook, as anticipated, went 16th overall to Colorado, and his running mate fell into Nashville’s lap.
Campbell’s 67 points in 53 games ranked him eighth among all BCHL skaters and third among league rookies. Campbell will play in Omaha next season in the USHL before heading to Clarkson University in 2020-21.
Campbell’s Scouting Report
|Unmatched hockey sense and on-ice awareness||Needs to add strength before the NCAA|
|Good acceleration and separation||Puck protection when stickhandling breaks down|
|Elusive stickhandling abilities||Skating speed out of crossover steps|
Campbell—#11 in white—is an adept playmaker. He has a nice touch with the puck when passing and knows how to pull defenders away with his abilities to create space for his teammates. I like the kick to himself and quick shot above, and the two-zone pass after a chance the other way is a nice example of those skills.
Above is another example of Campbell’s passing skills and how well he can lead his teammate into a scoring chance.
I like this up-ice rush from Campbell and the give-and-go he delivers at the blue line. In some viewings, I noticed him floating too much in the offensive zone. That can be a side effect of so many skilled moving parts on the ice at once, but I would like to see him re-engage in the play above by finding open space, not just wandering towards the net.
Marc Del Gaizo - D - 109th Overall
UMass Amherst [NCAA] - 1999 - Basking Ridge, NJ
Del Gaizo was selected by Nashville in his second year of draft eligibility after an impressive freshman season at the University of Massachusetts. The defender was paired almost exclusively with Cale Makar at even strength, but was often relegated to the second power play unit. Del Gaizo’s UMass career was preceded by two full seasons with the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the USHL.
Del Gaizo’s 29 points in 41 games last season were 18th-best among all defenders in the country and topped the list of freshmen. He put 97 shots on net, good for a 13.4% shooting rate, and scored six of his 13 goals on the power play.
Del Gaizo Scouting Report
|Puck protection||Poor crossover acceleration|
|Good shot; good at creating rebounds||Relies on his hands when engaging physically|
|Maintains decent gap control||Can float too often with his stick off the ice|
Del Gaizo—#2 in white—shows his good passing abilities right off the bat in the game above. He’s adept at delivering a quick, accurate pass over long distances. He follows that up with decent but not too aggressive puck support in the offensive zone—a byproduct of skating with a more eager Makar.
Del Gaizo demonstrates good skills when breaking out the puck, albeit on a two-man advantage, and you can see he appears ready to evade a challenger well if one to were arrive. But also notice how awkwardly he kicks out and up from his crossover steps; it’s a hindrance and may be the weakest part of his game.
The above clip is a glimpse at where Del Gaizo’s defensive game can break down. He coasts back to the puck anticipating his goalie to make a play and shows little awareness of the forechecking opponents. He then chases his man out to the wall and relies on extending his hands instead of using his stick away to take away the impending pass.
Isak Walther - F - 179th Overall
Södertälje SK J18 [J18 Elit] - 2001 - Sweden
Walther was selected in the sixth round by Nashville after a curious delay caused by his absence from the NHL’s Central Registry. The 6’3” forward split time this past season between several of Södertälje SK’s squads: two at the U18 level and one at the U20 level in the SuperElit. He totaled 46 points in 40 games, including 17 goals and 34 points in 21 J18 Elit games.
That J20 team in the SuperElit is where Walther will be playing full-time next season; it was led by Lucas Feuk, a fourth-round pick of the Calgary Flames’ this season. In their respective draft years, Walther has almost identical J18 Elit production to the Blues’ Oskar Sundqvist, who went on to score 33 points in 38 games the next season in the SuperElit.
Walther’s Scouting Report
|Strong, fluid skating stride||Not a ton of breakaway speed|
|Skilled passer||Can float positionally at times|
|Above-average stickhandling in tight space||Needs to refine raw talent|
In the above clip, Walther—#12 in blue—provides a brief glimpse at his stickhandling ability and the awareness he uses in the offensive zone. I like how he draws out two defenders using his long reach before centering a good pass—that is ultimately tipped, or it would have resulted in an excellent scoring chance.
The above clip is of Walther on the power play, where he positions himself on the opposite wing of his even-strength line-up. The play is nothing fancy but I like how he uses his edges to pivot and find meaningful space and doesn’t just float. He throws an accurate, hard shot on net resulting in a goal.
The shift above was a rough one to watch for most of the Södertälje squad. They fanned on several attempts to clear the zone and, when they finally managed it, it resulted in an unforced dump-in. You will notice the almost gingerly pace Walther forechecks with. He gets back to force a turnover; he’s good at imposing himself in skating lanes through the neutral zone. This shift was from early in the season. I think his pace quickened as the year went on, but I’m curious to watch how he settles in at the beginning of 2019-20.
Juuso Pärssinen - F - 210th Overall
TPS U20 [Jr. A SM-liiga] - 2001 - Hameenlinna, Finland
I anticipated Pärssinen would be off the board by the 210th pick, so his availability led me to think he could be an above-average selection at this stage (backed up by Bryan’s viz above). He just finished his second U20 season in Finland for TPS (the home club of Kappo Kakko) and scored 22 points in 36 games—good for eighth on the club this season.
He joined Finland for the U18 World Junior Championship, too, and recorded one goal and one assist in five games. He will play full-time in the Finnish Liiga next season with TPS.
Parssinen’s Scouting Report
|Defensively responsible||Average to below-average skating|
|Good at maintaining possession off of face-offs||Okay shooting ability|
|Good penalty-killing abilities||Good stickhandling but does not use it often|
I haven’t been blown away by Pärssinen’s skating in my viewings of him, but in the clip above, I am impressed with the tenacity of his forecheck/backcheck. Pärssinen—#35 in white—provides good pressure on both sides of the body to the Canadian puck carrier. I especially like how immediately he engages with the opponent floating towards his net when back in defensive position.
Pärssinen’s foot speed won’t wow you and he likely doesn’t have a true separation gear, but his puck support and awareness skills are impressive and on display in the clip above. His stride isn’t awful as he carries the puck on the 2-on-1. I’m not sure I understand the cut to the middle, but I like how quickly he whips that pass off and how effortlessly he returns to the defensive zone.
Above is Pärssinen on the penalty kill. He moves well laterally and anticipates puck movement okay with his stick placement, too.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, NAHL.com, and prospect-stats.com.