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2019 Nashville Predators Prospect Rankings: The Defenders

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The defense class graduating to Milwaukee could be unprecedented.

AHL: DEC 23 Milwaukee Admirals at Cleveland Monsters Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Last week I highlighted who I believe are Nashville’s top 25 prospects heading into the 2019-20 season. This was a list constructed from a few categories: my own scouting, my belief in each prospect’s potential and closeness to the NHL, and the model that I built to measure on-ice success relative to age and league. You can explore those rankings at the link below:

2019 Top 25 Prospects

There were moments in those rankings where a prospect’s position differed from the output that my model created. So, I want to break down the pipeline by position to explore further what said model found. In my introduction for this series (found here), I noted that this model will include all players in the organization outside of Nashville, regardless of age or contract status. As such, players like Matt Donovan (veteran) or Hunter Garlent (AHL contract) are included.

Yesterday I kicked off this position-by-position series with the goalies. You can follow the link below to read that:

2019 Nashville Predators Prospect Rankings: The Goalies

Below I’ll move forward with the defense class of the organization. As skaters, here are the measurements that were taken into account for this model:

Stat Explanation
Stat Explanation
GP games played in their primary league in 2018-19
P1 goals and primary assists
Shots shots on goal
G goals in all situations
ST Goals power play and shorthanded goals
PIM penalty minutes
GA/60 measured only for defenders; goals scored while that player is on the ice relative to 60 minutes
Rel GF% measured only for forwards; the rate at which goals-for are scored when that player is on the ice versus when they are not
Line 'x' this is a multiplier used to consider a player’s ice time and how that values their production
Prob. Make a prospect’s probability to make the NHL based on production and success of cohorts (similar ages, leagues, production, etc.). This rate was constructed by Manny Perry
Proj. WAR/82 a prospect’s projected wins-above-replacement value over 82 games in the NHL. This rate, constructed by Manny Perry, assumes the player has made the NHL full-time
Proj. WAR% how a prospect’s projected WAR/82 has increased or decreased since entering the organization
NHLe the rate at which players scoring in various leagues would continue over 82 NHL games (i.e. 1 point in the KHL is equivalent to 0.7461 points in the NHL). The most up to date measurements can be found here courtesy of Manny Perry

2019 Nashville Predators Defenders, Ranked by Metric
Graphic - Eric Dunay I Model - Eric Dunay & C.C.

Marc Del Gaizo - 10.880

UMass Amherst [NCAA]

Del Gaizo scored an elite number of goals last season for the Minutemen (13) and benefited from partnering with Cale Makar most of the year. As a result, he produced a goals-against per 60 minutes rate of just 1.28.

I expect to see a mild offensive regression this season as he will likely lead UMass in minutes but also defensive responsibility, but Del Gaizo could prove to be a savvy fourth-round pick.

Matt Donovan - 9.940

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Donovan impressed early last season in Milwaukee, earning an NHL deal in short order. He didn’t slow down his production until season’s end and shuffled between multiple partners. His contributions on the man-advantage were invaluable, and he should again be the top horse for the Admirals in 2019-20.

Jeremy Davies - 9.839

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Davies was a star for Northeastern during his collegiate career and 2018-19 was no different. He had eight goals but doubled Del Gaizo’s primary point production, took few penalties, and had a goals-against rate to rival the cross-state rival (1.83).

The possession machine should translate his game well to the AHL in 2019-20, but there might be a slight learning curve.

Brandon Fortunato - 9.235

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Fortunato suffered a gruesome leg injury in January but was riding neck-and-neck with Davies beforehand. In 26 games for Quinnipiac, the defender scored five times on under 50 shots, was a special teams star taking just one penalty and playing as a key cog for the Bobcats’ power play, and was only scored on a staggering 0.85 times per 60 minutes.

Injury recovery may force a slower timeline for him to get up to speed in Milwaukee.

David Farrance - 9.178

Boston University [NCAA]

Farrance produced methodically on a Boston team that struggled to score at times. His 13 primary points seems modest but was second among team defenders behind Dante Fabbro. I am a tad surprised he didn’t record more shots on net, and I suspect that will go down in 2019-20 as he is relied on more defensively for the Terriers.

Semyon Chistyakov - 8.769

Tolpar Ufa [MHL]

Chistyakov had a nice trial run in the MHL last season with nearly double-digit primary points in 32 appearances. His one goal isn’t much, and he was burned defensively a few specific games, but I anticipate an impressive season for him on Ufa’s top pairing.

Frederic Allard - 8.320

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Allard’s score took a hit due to a spring time injury, but he still finished with similar counting stats to Alexandre Carrier. He took the second most shots of any Milwaukee defender last year, so I anticipate his four goals will rise in 2019-20.

He proved himself further as defensively sound, recording the lowest goals-against rate of Milwaukee’s top-four defenders. I anticipate that shutdown role will continue in 2019-20 with expanded full-strength and power-play minutes.

Hardy Haman Aktell - 8.239

IF Bjorkloven [Allsvenskan]

Haman Aktell played sparingly at times for Bjorkloven last season but should see an expanded role in 2019-20 and can hopefully build on his three-primary-point, one-goal performance. He was surprisingly a good shutdown player relative to his teammates, though.

Spencer Stastney - 8.135

University of Notre Dame [NCAA]

The smooth-skating Stastney had a quiet season in South Bend with just one goal and three primary points, too. But his ice time was on the lower end of the roster until the NCAA tournament in the spring, and his 30 shots on net are second lowest of this prospect class.

His ice time will increase dramatically this season and his elite skating ability should allow for better counting stats in 2019-20.

Scott Savage - 7.490

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Savage was quietly an important role player for the Admirals throughout the year. He played in just 19 games and rarely saw an offensive zone start, but he held his own with just 19 penalty minutes and a team-low 1.60 goals-against per 60 minutes rate.

Adam Smith - 6.667

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Smith is so vanilla the first thing that comes to mind is the free market instead of a steady-handed defender. His potential is incredibly landed, but three goals and five primary points was an impressive return for his standards in 2018-19.

Just 12 penalty minutes and 1.10 goals allowed per 60 minutes bumped his score up significantly, but I’m not certain how well that defensive responsibility will translate to the AHL and ECHL.

Vladislav Yeryomenko - 6.285

Dinamo Minsk [KHL]

Yeryomenko posted 20 primary points last year, but shot the puck a lot (106) and only saw seven goals in exchange. He has all the tools to be a good, two-way player, but his defensive measurements are almost too bad to share from his last season in Calgary (3.62 GA/60).

His ice time will be limited at times in the KHL, so I’m curious to see how this helps his development.

Alexandre Carrier - 6.249

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Despite a bounce back from the prior season offensively, Carrier has continued to slide down this pipeline’s leader board. He recorded fewer primary points than Donovan in 10 more games and scored half the amount of goals. He won’t take too many penalties, but he and Jarred Tinordi are pylons defensively.

Jarred Tinordi - 4.530

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

The Admirals captain provided a surprising offensive boost at times in 2018-19 with eight goals (all at even strength) and 17 primary points (third among defenders). Unfortunately, he took more penalties than any other Admirals’ defender and was the team’s worst regular option on defense (just Filip Pyrochta recorded a worse GA/60 rate).

I can’t imagine 2019-20 will be much better in that regard, but I’m willing to overlook those faults if Allard and Donovan can rein things in a bit.

Josh Healey - 4.174

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Healey bounced between the AHL and ECHL in 2018-19, scoring just once in 55 AHL games. Furthermore, he barely had the puck to shoot, took 32 penalties, and recorded a GA/60 rate worse than Tinordi’s. I imagine he will mostly be used in Estero, Florida in 2019-20.

Arvin Atwal - -0.408

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Atwal actually produced well in the ECHL,scoring 10 goals (eight at even strength) and recording 37 primary points; he also took an impressive 141 shots on net. Unfortunately, he paired that with a jaw-dropping 214 penalty minutes, which severely dragged down his value.

Regardless, I think he could be a valuable AHL/ECHL bubble player in 2019-20.


All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, pick224.com, theahl.com, echl.com, whl.ca, engmhl.khl.ru, hockeyallsvenskan.se, and ncca.com.