After years in the wastelands (okay, only one year, but it feels like it’s been longer), the Nashville Predators have a first-round pick again, and seven total picks. The last time they made a selection in the first round they added Eeli Tolvanen with the 29th-overall pick; this year they’ll be picking several selections earlier.
The New Jersey Devils, thanks to Taylor Hall’s uncanny lottery-winning ability, will pick first; their nearest neighbors and division rivals the New York Rangers will choose right after. American center Jack Hughes and Finnish winger Kaapo Kakko will go first and second, but there’s still a little uncertainty about which of the two the Devils will choose. After that, our old foes the Chicago Blackhawks, the final lottery winners for the evening, will make a selection.
The Ottawa Senators managed to dodge some trouble, as the pick they sent the Colorado Avalanche in the Matt Duchene shuffle missed all three lottery spots and has come out no better than the pick the Senators kept last year and used to draft Brady Tkachuk. The Los Angeles Kings—the team with the worst regular-season record not to have already given away their first-rounder—will round out the top five.
Unless there are trades, the Predators draft 24th tonight. Tomorrow they’ll be choosing 75th (in the third round, with a pick gained from Florida for the Predators’ 89th-overall third-rounder last year), 109th and 117th (in the fourth round, with the pick gained from Colorado for Colin Wilson and their own pick respectively), 148th (in the fifth round), 179th (in the sixth round), and 210th (in the seventh round). Their second-round pick was traded to the Devils for Brian Boyle shortly before the deadline.
The Predators could choose to add a skilled forward or a promising young defender with the pick, or they could trade it—there have been rumors that David Poile is interested in making a move, and it’s been feeling increasingly likely that the Preds might move a defender either this summer or before the Seattle expansion draft. We’ll have to wait and see.
We’ll have an open thread going live here at On the Forecheck at 5 PM Central, two hours before the draft begins, and we’d love to have you join us there. Eric Dunay will be livetweeting the draft from @OnTheForecheck and providing some instant analysis here of the Preds’ pick once they make it—if they make it. If they don’t, we’ll have your trade coverage instead.
Sights & Sounds
The first round is tonight, June 21st, and starts at 7:00 PM Central. It will be airing on NBCSN in the US and on Sportsnet and TVA Sports in Canada.
The second through seventh rounds are tomorrow, June 22nd, and will start at noon Central. They will air on NHL Network in the US and on Sportsnet in Canada.
Stay tuned to On the Forecheck for draft analysis, trade analysis (if any), and the rest of the Preds news this weekend!