As I continue through my rankings of the top 25 prospects in the Nashville organization, take a moment to review where we’ve been so far below. The introduction explains my methodology (crafting a relationship between 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) for these rankings and what I’m looking to uncover over the next couple weeks.
I anticipated players #20 through #16 would cause quite a discussion, and my Twitter poll indicated so, too.
I completely understand the skepticism when it comes to Isak Walther, but 23% of you thinking I overrated Patrick Harper is interesting; I figured he would receive more benefit of the doubt. Conversely, he tied with Carrier when it came to who wasn’t ranked high enough; I’ll take that as a sign that Carrier’s status among fan opinion has slipped, too.
Below you will find a brief breakdown of the next five prospects as I climb up towards #1.
#10: Jachym Kondelik - C - 19
Kondelik was the first selection of a thin Nashville 2018 draft class and went in the fourth round with little expectations to be a top player in 2018-19. But the big Czech center did nothing but exceed those, finishing with 26 points on the season—good for second at UConn and 13th among freshmen in the entire country.
Despite recording just four goals on the season, Kondelik was a consistent presence on the ice in all situations for the Huskies and goes into 2019-20 as the team’s number one center.
|2018-19||University of Connecticut||NCAA||33||4||22||26||12|
The first thing always noted about Kondelik is his size and understandably so. But the pivot has proved to be an underrated skater, too, with good offensive zone awareness that helped grow his impact on the man-advantage as the season went on. I expect Kondelik to near a point-per-game pace in 2019-20 as he improves his shooting—a noticeable weakness.
Kondelik was rewarded in my model for his good shooting rate and his impressive impact on UConn’s scoring this season. He recorded a 19.95% goals-for rate relative to his teammates for a Huskies team that struggled to score often.
#9: Josh Wilkins - C - 22
Josh Wilkins, a Raleigh, NC native, was one of several collegiate free agents that Nashville pursued this summer and notably beat out Pittsburgh for his services. The versatile forward recently finished his third season at Providence College where he finished with 46 points—good for ninth in the entire nation.
One reservation about his production was an inflated shooting percentage and that eight of his 20 goals came on the man-advantage. But he was the Friars’ first 20-goal scorer in over 15 years and led them back to the Frozen Four for the first time since 2015.
|2015-16||Sioux City Musketeers||USHL||49||16||13||29||39|
I’m intrigued to see how Wilkins stands out at the next level. He should have a fair shot at a top-six role in Milwaukee and would provide a dangerous shooting option on the side opposite of Rem Pitlick.
My model was a big fan of Wilkins, and it sees him having a good shot at becoming an NHL regular, potentially in a middle-six role with specialty work on the power play. He was rewarded for his primary point share and distinction as a top driver of Providence’s offense.
#8: Egor Afanasyev - W - 18
Afanasyev was drafted this past summer with a pick derived from the P.K. Subban trade and has been lauded as a first-round talent and potential steal at 45th overall. The Russian winger led the Muskegon Lumberjacks in scoring with 62 points and finished tenth in the entire USHL.
In 2019-20, Afanasyev has committed to play in the OHL for the Windsor Spitfires, who are angling for a big season. He should have the opportunity to play with center Jean-Luc Foudy—a top prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.
Afanasyev is a big-bodied forward who has slick hands and good puck protection skills. He comes equipped with an accurate wrist shot but can also deploy an elusive snap or slap shot to aim for rebounds and effectively uses defenders as screens. Skating in the OHL and with Foudy will likely force Afanasyev into quicker decision making and to make his skating stride more efficient.
The Russian was, as expected, an important driver of the Lumberjacks’ offense when on the ice, but, more importantly, contributed mostly at even strength and was often the primary set-up man when not scoring goals himself.
#7: Anthony Richard - F - 22
Richard finally made his NHL debut in 2018-19 during his third professional season. We’ve seen impressive growth over the past four years from the Quebec native, who should compete once again for the Admirals’ scoring title in 2019-20.
In 2018-19, Richard led the team with 47 points and 24 goals—nine more than second place Eeli Tolvanen. He was easily Milwaukee’s most consistent offensive producer in all situations and should command more opportunity in Nashville this season.
At 22 years old, Richard has a prime opportunity in 2019-20 to challenge for a more extensive depth role in the NHL. If his production progresses as it has, Nashville may soon have little choice but to give him more minutes. It’s no stretch to think he should hit 60 points in a full AHL season this year.
Richard shoots the puck a lot and that’s largely a good thing, despite taking a hit for some extensive low-danger shooting at times. Additionally, he was on the ice for holistic minutes against other top units so defense wasn’t as easy on him. But he was rewarded for his all-situations production and primary points share.
#6: Frederic Allard - D - 21
If it weren’t for an upper-body injury that sidelined Allard for a month from late January to February, my model would have rewarded him much more. But I made up for it in this more subjective ranking. Allard is arguably Nashville’s closest option to a full-time NHL defender (it might be neck-and-neck with Jeremy Davies), and it showed before his injury last year.
Despite the injury, he finished ninth on the team in scoring and third among defenders, behind Carrier and Matt Donovan who both completed full campaigns.
In January, I wrote a comparison of Allard and Carrier and how on-track their respective developments are. In it, I noted how Allard was at the top of his age group of AHL defenders in share of offensive production, shooting rates, and at driving possession towards the opposing net.
Based on his age, Allard should be in line to receive a good audition in Nashville this season depending on how injuries play out. But, more importantly, he should and likely will challenge for a full-time roster spot throughout the latter half of the season and potentially force a difficult decision next off-season.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com