Through over 20 years of drafting the Nashville organization has uncovered some real gems that have thrilled fans for the past two decades. But, naturally, there have also been some incredible busts: the players no one remembers who came with high expectations, the high-end prospects who lingered in the organization and were always thrown out as trade bait, or the prospects who just seemingly vanished.
Below I’ll provide a short analysis of some of the highest rated picks in Nashville history that never panned out. This list is not in any particular order, and I am certain you will all have your polite suggestions in the comments section.
Ryan Parent - D - Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins [AHL] - 2015-16
Drafted: 2005 - Round 1 - 18th overall
NHL Statistics: 106 GP / 1 G / 6 A / 7 PTS
Our cover athlete for this list is one of the most well-known busts in Predators history. This is somewhat of a weird thing to say about a player who never scored more than 21 points in a season in the OHL, but he was considered a defensive specialist. Parent was a first-round pick from the Guelph Storm after his second junior season, where he scored 19 points in 66 games.
Regardless, Parent was largely viewed as the top defensive prospect in the 2005 draft and was ranked as the eighth best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. At 18th overall, Parent was selected ahead of the likes of Tuukka Rask, T.J. Oshie, James Neal, Marc-Édouard Vlasic, and Kris Letang.
Parent played two more seasons in Guelph and won two gold medals for Canada at the World Junior Championships in 2006 and 2007. Parent was dealt to Philadelphia in February of 2007 with Scottie Upshall and two draft picks in exchange for Peter Forsberg without ever having played for Nashville or Milwaukee.
Parent was re-acquired by Nashville in June of 2010 for the contract rights to Dan Hamhuis (which were then traded again to Pittsburgh before he became a free agent on July 1) and then traded again to Vancouver before the season with Jonas Andersson in exchange for Shane O’Brien and Dan Gendur.
Parent played all but four of his NHL games with Philadelphia before being demoted to the AHL full-time in 2011-12. Parent last played for the Baby Penguins in 2015-16 and is now an assistant coach for the Binghamton Devils.
Jonathan Blum - D - Dinamo Minsk [KHL] - 2018-19
Drafted: 2007 - Round 1 - 23rd overall
NHL Statistics: 110 GP / 7 G / 17 A / 24 PTS
The first California-born player drafted into the NHL, Blum was drafted 23rd overall with the pick that Nashville originally sent to Philadelphia in the Forsberg trade and was re-acquired when Nashville sent Kimmo Timonen and Scott Hartnell to the Flyers.
I suppose 100+ games in the NHL isn’t necessarily someone with a busted career, but with such high expectations, Blum had to make the list. After being drafted, Blum spent two more seasons with the Vancouver Giants and finished his WHL career with 204 points in 248 career regular season games. From 2009 to 2013, Blum played 215 regular season games in Milwaukee and 91 in Nashville—never sticking for more than 35 games in a season.
Blum never quite stuck in Nashville for various reasons. The organization often over-emphasized the position and brought in other players, and I think Blum’s game was just more suitable to junior hockey.
Blum jumped ship to the KHL after one season in the Wild organization and has played there since. He also suited up for the USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics, but his likely legacy is being involved in every armchair GM trade from the Nashville fan base for a few years.
Timofei Shiskanov - LW - Tohoku Free Blades [Asia] - 2018-19
Drafted: 2001 - Round 2 - 33rd overall
NHL Statistics: 24 GP / 3 G / 2 A / 5 PTS
Many of you may not remember the name Shishkanov, but he was a mainstay in the organizational pipeline in the early 2000s. Drafted in 2001 after a scoreless cup of coffee in the second Russian league, Shishkanov spent one more season in Russia, scoring 13 points in 22 games for CSKA Moscow. Then he came to the QMJHL, putting up 82 points in 51 games for the Quebec Remparts. Those numbers would get most people excited, and he followed up that performance with 43 points in 63 games for Milwaukee in 2003-04 and eight more points in 22 playoff games as the Admirals won their most recent Calder Cup.
Shishkanov would play two games for Nashville that year and 116 more for Milwaukee—totaling 107 points in 179 regular season AHL contests—until January 2006, when he was traded to St. Louis for Mike Sillinger, who scored a career-high 63 points that season.
Shishkanov payed 22 games for St. Louis, recording three goals and five points, but never quite cracked the NHL and returned to Russia for the 2006-07 season. He played there through the 2014-15 season, never scoring more than 23 points in a season, before coming out of retirement this year to skate in the Asia League.
This one was a toss-up with Konstantin Glazachev, who was the fifth-ranked European skater heading into the 2003 draft. Nashville’s inability to coax Glazachev out of Russia led me to consider him as an honorable mention below.
Chet Pickard - G - Adler Mannheim [DEL] - 2018-19
Drafted: 2008 - Round 1 - 18th overall
NHL Statistics: —
I think many would consider Brian Finley to be the biggest draft-day mistake in Nashville history, but you can’t predict injuries. For what my opinion is worth, it has to be Chet Pickard. Pickard was rated the second-best North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting behind current Admiral Thomas McCollum.
Central Scouting isn’t everything—in fact, Braden Holtby and Martin Jones were ranked lower that year—but Pickard generated significant hype after starting his first full season for the Tri-City Americans of the WHL (he spent the previous two as Carey Price’s backup). Pickard started 64 games that year en route to being named the CHL Goaltender of the Year.
The draft that summer in Ottawa is where things turned unfortunate. The Predators originally had the 15th pick overall, but made a draft floor trade that sent said pick to Ottawa for the 18th overall pick and a third-round pick in 2009. Nashville took Pickard with the 18th pick, ahead of Jordan Eberle, John Carlson, Roman Josi and Travis Hamonic. The next year that third round pick netted them Taylor Beck. So who did Ottawa take 15th overall? Erik Karlsson. Yep. That Erik Karlsson.
Pickard lasted three seasons in the organization—one more in Tri-City and two in Milwaukee/Cincinnati. He started 43 total games for the Admirals and finished with a 2.91 GAA and a 0.896 save-percentage. Remarkably, he had even worse numbers in the ECHL. Pickard went to Sweden for the 2012-13 season and never saw a minute of NHL action.
Charles Olivier-Roussel - D - Petroliers du Nord [LNAH] - 2018-19
Drafted: 2009 - Round 2 - 42nd overall
NHL Statistics: —
This is a deep cut for you die-hard Predators fans out there. Roussel was the original Samuel Girard—except bigger, meaner, and a lot less skilled. Nonetheless, Nashville took him in the second round of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft after a 44-point season in the QMJHL for Shawinigan. Roussel added 51 points the next season, 30 points in 2010-11, and then went back to the ‘Q’ for an overage fifth season and scored 40 points for the Saint John Sea Dogs.
The overage season was the first sign that this pick would not pan out, but in 2012-13, Roussel scored one point in 17 games for Milwaukee and 17 points in 40 games for Cincinnati. He lasted one more season in the organization but was always that player who “looked pretty good...I wonder if he can make a statement at training camp” when fans would report back from rookie camp over the summer.
Since then, Roussel has gone to Utah, South Carolina, Thetford Mines, Norfolk, Slovakia, France, back to Thetford Mines, back to France, and is now in St-Jerome, Quebec playing in the LNAH—a league so violent that it is rumored to have inspired the Goon movies.
Oh, and some players drafted after Roussel in 2009? Dmitry Orlov, Tomáš Tatar, Tyson Barrie, Brayden McNabb, and our very own Michael Latta, who famously fetched the Preds Filip Forsberg.
Jonathan-Ismael Diaby [2013 - Round 3 - 64th overall], Daniel Widing [2000 - Round 2 - 36th overall], Zach Budish [2009 - Round 2 - 41st overall], Magnus Hellberg [2011 - Round 2 - 38th overall], Taylor Aronson [2010 - Round 3 - 78th overall], Blake Geoffrion [2006 - Round 2 - 56th overall], Jeremy Smith [2007 - Round 2 - 54th overall], Grigori Shafigulin [2003 - Round 3 - 98th overall], Konstantin Glazachev [2003 - Round 2 - 35th overall], Brian Finley [1999 - Round 1 - 6th overall]
Outside of the higher round picks that don’t pan out, there are always players selected in later rounds that have some truly bizarre stories. So, I thought I would highlight some of them as well.
Evan Smith - G - Saskatoon Blades [WHL] - 2015-16
Drafted: 2015 - Round 7 - 205th overall
Smith was the seventh-to-last pick in 2015 after he dominated the NAHL for 15 games but only saw four games of action in the WHL for Victoria. He quit hockey altogether after the 2015-16 season. By the way, the 208th overall pick that year? Miroslav Svoboda.
Martin Beauchesne - D - Thetford Mines Prolab [LNAH] - 2004-05
Drafted: 1998 - Round 5 - 138th overall
Beauchesne was selected by Nashville after his second season in the QMJHL with Sherbrooke, despite totaling seven total points in 102 games those seasons. Did getting drafted change anything? Nope: 34 points in his next 163 QMJHL games.
Jure Penko - G - HK Olimpija Ljubljana [Slovenia] - 2007-08
Drafted: 2000 - Round 7 - 203rd overall
Penko, the only Slovenian Nashville has ever drafted—and one of just seven to ever be drafted—started his junior career in America with the Arkansas RiverBlades of the ECHL and the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL. After getting drafted he spent a few more seasons in the USHL, ECHL, and CHL before heading back to Europe.
Josh Morrow - D - Kooteny Ice [WHL] - 2003-04
Drafted: 2002 - Round 7 - 203rd overall
Morrow was selected after his fourth season in the WHL, where he scored 37 points in 76 games for Medicine Hat and Tri-City. Morrow never made it out of Major Junior, but what is remarkable is that he stayed there from 1998 to 2004, defying any eligibility rules I am aware of.
Niko Snellman - LW - Jokipojat [Mestis] - 2011-12
Drafted: 2006 - Round 4 - 105th overall
Snellman played one season in North American for Regina of the WHL after he was drafted. In 32 games he scored 10 points and then bolted back to Finland. From 2007 until 2012, Snellman played 96 regular season games and scored 29 total points.
Josh Shalla - LW - Indy Fuel [ECHL] - 2018-19
Drafted: 2011 - Round 4 - 94th overall
Shalla has actually carved out quite the career for himself in the ECHL, but never made it past 32 games in one season in the AHL for Milwaukee in 2012-13.
Garrett Noonan - Krefeld Pinguine [DEL] - 2018-19
Drafted: 2011 - Round 4 - 112th overall
Noonan was a player who quietly became a decent prospect, scoring 66 points in 106 games at Boston University after being drafted in 2011. Nashville never qualified him after a couple seasons in Milwaukee/Cincinnati, in favor of developing Taylor Aronson. Now they both play in the top German league.
Zachary Stepan - C - Orlando Solar Bears - [ECHL] - 2017-18
Drafted: 2012 - Round 4 - 112th overall
This was a really interesting pick at the time because Stepan—who is Derek Stepan’s cousin—was an elite scorer at Shattuck St. Mary’s in 2010-11 and 2011-12. He continued that trend in the USHL with 78 points in 56 games for Waterloo in 2012-13, and then slowly faded away after an impressive 21-point freshman season at Minnesota State - Mankato.
Tommy Veilleux - LW - Saint-Georges-de-Beauce COOL-FM [LNAH] - 2018-19
Drafted: 2013 - Round 6 - 171st overall
Veilleux was selected after a 28-point season in the QMJHL, making the pick odd from the start. The next season he scored eight points in an injury-riddled campaign for Victoriaville and then played two more seasons in the QMJHL, joining Yakov Trenin and Alexandre Carrier in Gatineau in 2014-15. I remember seeing him at a game that season and being in awe at how out of place he looked—in a bad way.
All statistics and draft information are courtesy of eliteprospects.com.