This time out is going to be pretty brief, but I wanted to provide a few last notes before officially heading into draft coverage and putting out a few larger single-player profiles.
1. Forward Patrick Harper is heading into his senior season at Boston University hoping to regain his scoring touch after a tough ending to his sophomore season and, I imagine, a frustrating junior year.
At the end of April, Harper was named an assistant captain for the Terriers this upcoming season.
2. The WHL Draft was last week, and Barry Petchesky once again provided us with the top-notch content we crave this time of year:
But there was also some significant Preds-related news. The Calgary Hitmen traded the 11th overall pick in the draft, a 2021 2nd-round pick, Ryder Korczak, and Predators prospect Vladislav Yeryomenko to the Moose Jaw Warriors for Canucks prospect Jett Woo, an elite defensive prospect.
Moose Jaw finished seventh in the WHL this season with 88 points, but were swept by the Saskatoon Blades in round one. I anticipate Moose Jaw will be taking a step back this coming season, so I’m not certain what role Yeryomenko would adopt, but I would anticipate something close to top-pair minutes.
3. Nashville will see the exclusive negotiating rights of five of its prospects expire this summer pending any change. Tommy Novak signed a tryout with Milwaukee to finish the season but hasn’t been re-signed to an AHL deal (he won’t land an NHL one).
Adam Smith signed a two-year AHL deal with Milwaukee that puts him under contract with the Admirals through next season. He also won’t get an NHL deal, so he and Novak will be unrestricted free agents come August 15.
Jacob Paquette just finished his third season in the OHL with Niagara and Kingston and posted career offensive numbers while committing four penalties all season. I haven’t heard any indications on his future, but I think he would be worth committing to. It’s possible the signing of Brandon Fortunato could push Paquette out. If Paquette isn’t signed by 5 PM EST on June 1, he can re-enter the NHL Entry Draft this year in Vancouver.
It seems the writing may be on the wall for Karel Vejmelka. He re-signed with Brno for next season after being replaced as the starter for the playoffs despite a fairly well-played season. Brno chose to go with more experience for their championship run by acquiring Marek Ciliak from HC Slovan Bratislava. Vejmelka will also become a free agent on June 1.
Finally, Pavel Koltygin, who just finished his third season with Drummondville in the QMJHL is also a free agent come June 1. Koltygin posted fairly stagnant offensive numbers throughout his major junior career, but there is a ton of raw talent there. It’s my understanding the organization is interested in signing him, so watch for that to play out in the next few weeks.
4. Tomas Vomacka will start for the UConn Huskies next season—a move probably likely even if Adam Huska hadn’t signed his entry-level contract with the Rangers. It will be a season with high expectations for Vomacka, who has the talent to dominate the collegiate ranks. Take some time to enjoy this feature on him below:
5. Konstantin Volkov signed a one-year extension with Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk a few days ago after an injury-riddled season complicated by depth chart battles. He’s the presumptive starter, for now, but he will be 22 in September and has just 10 VHL games under his belt. If Volkov can’t put together a complete 2019-20 campaign as the Yugra’s starter, then I can’t imagine his ceiling will get much higher.
#Preds GK prospect Konstantin Volkov has re-signed with Yugra Khanty-Mansiysk in the VHL until the end of 2019/20 season.— Russian Prospects (@RUSProspects) May 6, 2019
6. Finally, I’ll end with Niclas Westerholm. There was a lot of speculation that he would be a lock for Milwaukee next season when he was called up as Nashville’s third goalie for the playoffs. I think it’s a possibility; Milwaukee currently only has Troy Grosenick under contract for next season. But after Frans Tuohimaa signed with HIFK a few days ago, the starting job in for SaiPa is Westerholm’s, as we speculated would happen.
My preference would be a full season as a Liiga starter with some games in Milwaukee next spring, but we’ll see what happens.
Quick note: HIFK’s other goalie next season will be Nashville’s 2007 7th-round pick, Atte Engren. He’s carved out a nice European career after 27 games for Milwaukee from 2010-12.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com.