Welcome to the second installment of my ranking of the Nashville Predators’ prospect pool. Before you get started on players #20 through #16, take a moment to read my introduction and about players #25 through #21 if you haven’t already:
In the introduction, I detailed my methodology behind these rankings: a combination of my scouting, my thoughts on each player’s ceiling, and my metric created to capture their on-ice success in 2018-19 paired with their previous results.
If you’ve been following along on Twitter, you’ve likely participated in my polls concerning these rankings. You will also begin to see some graphics relate to my top-25 and how it compares to the output of my metric. This is in anticipation of a more analytical breakdown of the prospect pool coming next week.
In review of the first set of players, it seems many of you feel Grant Mismash is the best player left out of the top 25.
Of those just outside the top-25 of my rankings, who do you think is the best prospect?— On The Future (@OnTheFutureOTF) August 25, 2019
If it’s someone else who you think probably didn’t make the cut, comment below!#Preds
That’s a fair assessment but given his tumultuous season, I don’t think it’s a stretch to have him on the outside looking in.
Below you will find a brief breakdown of the next five prospects as I climb up towards #1.
#20: Patrick Harper - C - 21
I wrote about Patrick Harper—and expectations for him as he heads into a contract year—just a few weeks ago (that can be found here). After that, it should be no surprise to see him falter on this list from last season. After returning from illness, Harper started the 2018-19 campaign with a cement-like scoring pace as his Terriers struggled around him.
20 points in 38 games isn’t awful considering how he started the season, but he recorded his lowest goal total to date in college and will need a point-per-game season in 2019-20 to salvage a chance at being a regular NHL player.
|2015-16||Avon Old Farms School||USHS-Prep||27||20||39||59||-|
The speedy forward has all the talent in the world to be an elite offensive producer in college. Add a new dynamic line mate in Trevor Zegras and the full confidence of his coach, and the 2019-20 season could be a massive return to form for Harper. But, for the time being, his play has dropped him down the pipeline during a disappointing last year and a half.
Despite his low counting stats, my model took note of Harper’s primary point share (75%), good shooting rate, and an impressive 14.9% goals-for rate relative to his teammates. With more talent around him in the fall, Harper should continue to be a dynamic possession player.
#19: Juuso Parssinen - W - 18
I frequently exhibit a bias towards newly-drafted players in these sorts of rankings for obvious reasons. So, it’s rare for me to be this impressed by a draft class, but Parssinen is an excellent example of Nashville uncovering what I believe to be hidden potential.
Parssinen didn’t re-write any record books last season, scoring 13 goals and 22 points in 36 Jr. A SM-liiga games for TPS, but he established himself as a dependable, two-way center with adept penalty-killing abilities. He also added two points in five games at the 2019 U18 World Junior Championships.
|2017-18||TPS U18||Jr. B SM-sarja||28||14||22||36||10|
|2017-18||TPS U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||16||4||4||8||4|
|2018-19||TPS U20||Jr. A SM-liiga||36||13||9||22||28|
After a seven-game stint for TPS in the top Finnish league last year, Parssinen will play full-time for the squad from Turku in 2019-20. I expect to see his point total somewhere in the high teens, but I think he has a chance to outperform how his offensive touch has been scouted so far.
Despite his lower counting stats, my model picked up on Parssinen’s share of primary points (19), good shooting rate, and his impressive possession numbers; he was one of the best forwards at creating goal scoring for TPS U20 last season with a 11.28% goals-for rate relative to his teammates.
#18: Semyon Chistyakov - D - 18
Chistyakov is an exciting addition to the prospect pool and a player I tabbed before the draft as a potential fourth-round option for Nashville. He scored just 11 points for Tolpar Ufa in the 2018-19 MHL campaign, but nine of them were primary points. At the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships, he shone for Russia, scoring two goals and emerging as one of their most dynamic players on the blue line.
Additionally, his scoring rates are actually quite impressive for his age group as he led all Tolpar U18 defenders in scoring and was just outside the top-10 across the MHL.
|2018-19||Salavat Yulaev Ufa U18||Russia U18||4||1||2||3||2|
My love for Chistyakov’s game is how noticeable his strengths are: he creates turnovers and forces the puck up the ice quickly, he’s a beautiful skater, and he can dominate possession through the neutral zone for better zone entries if he wants. He’s lightning in a bottle that loves using his body but plays a disciplined game with his smaller stature.
With first pairing minutes in Ufa in 2019-20, I expect a big leap in offensive production and an opportunity for him to establish a better north-south game with the puck.
In my scoring, his production rates for his age and large share of primary points boosted his score despite a below-average goals-against per 60 minutes rate.
#17: Alexandre Carrier - D - 22
I am prepared to draw the ire of many for this, but I have been beating this drum for some time and the numbers are there to back me up. Despite a bounce-back season from his disastrous 2017-18 campaign, Alexandre Carrier is no closer to seeing regular NHL minutes.
He began last season slowly while playing exclusively with Jarred Tinordi, and it wasn’t until the latter half of the season where he picked things up while Frederic Allard was injured. Carrier’s five goals and 37 points nearly matched his rookie year numbers, and that is encouraging. But the issue is that Carrier still struggles defensively and is falling behind his own aging curve.
Carrier has long been a cerebral player with the puck, but his skating and awareness without it have raised questions for me. Despite challenging Matt Donovan for the most primary points among Milwaukee defenders last year, Carrier had the second-highest goals-against per 60 minutes rate on the team (slightly behind Jarred Tinordi). He isn’t dominant enough of a possession player to ignore that and was exposed too often in 2018-19.
As I wrote when comparing his path to the NHL to that of Frederic Allard’s, Carrier was faring just okay to his peers in relative scoring rates and possession driving in 2018-19. Additionally, he should likely be playing significant NHL minutes in 2019-20 to stay on track as he turns 23. With Donovan, Allard, and Jeremy Davies in the mix, it’s hard for me to imagine that materializing.
#16: Isak Walther - W - 18
This one might be the biggest shock to the system, and, admittedly, I was surprised too when compiling this list. But, after getting past the draft day jokes, some further research uncovered impressive numbers on Walther.
In 2018-19, the Swedish winger spent time with the J18 Sodertalje club and saw a brief stint in the top junior league in Sweden. He was dominant at the J18 level, scoring 23 goals in 35 games, and led Sodertalje in playoff scoring with eight points in six contests.
|2016-17||Sodertalje SK J18||J18 Allsvenskan||2||0||0||0||0|
|2017-18||Sodertalje SK J18||J18 Elit||33||7||5||12||6|
|2018-19||Sodertalje SK J18||J18 Elit||21||17||17||34||6|
|2018-19||Sodertalje SK J18||J18 Allsvenskan||14||6||2||8||8|
|2018-19||Sodertalje SK J20||SuperElit||5||2||2||4||0|
A knock on Walther has been his skating stride, but I don’t see it as particularly poor. He’s a huge body that can make adept passes and has surprisingly refined hands. As a full-time player in the SuperElit this season, he should look to improve his positioning, establish space better and round out his offensive touch. But I have little concern he can approach a point-per-game in 2019-20.
In my scoring, Walther took a hit for a negative relative goals-for rate, but he countered that with strong discipline and few penalties, impressive contributions on the power play, and, most noticeably, scoring over a primary point-per-game in the J18 Elit stage and just shy of one per game in the entire J18 season—shockingly good numbers.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com