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2019 Nashville Predators Prospect Rankings: The Centers

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The center position is where Nashville’s prospect depth may thin out.

NHL: JUN 29 Predators Future Stars Game Photo by Danny Murphy/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.

This week, I am covering prospects position-by-position. You can follow the links below to read about the goalies, defenders and wingers:

2019 Nashville Predators Prospect Rankings: The Goalies

2019 Nashville Predators Prospect Rankings: The Defenders

2019 Nashville Predators Prospect Rankings: The Wingers

Below I’ll wrap things up with the centers in 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 Centers, Ranked by Metric
Graphic - Eric Dunay I Model - Eric Dunay & C.C.

Rem Pitlick - 15.292

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Pitlick remaining at the top of this list has caused some discussion, and I think that’s fair. Of the top tier of prospects, his ceiling is certainly the lowest, but I’m fairly certain he could score 20-30 points with ample playing time in the NHL in 2019-20.

It also can’t be overstated how impressive his junior year was at Minnesota: 34 primary points, 124 shots on goal, 21 goals (10 on the power play and three shorthanded), and a staggering 25.08% relative goals-for rate. He was, at many times, the only consistent offensive producer for the Golden Gophers and one of the best scorers in the country.

He’s knocking on the door for full-time NHL duty, and I think the AHL should be a step behind him once he gets acclimated.

Philip Tomasino - 15.059

Niagara IceDogs [OHL]

Tomasino is the shiny new toy that everyone is after and for good reason: after draft day, he shot up to the top echelon of this organization’s pipeline. The more I study it the more impressed I was with the 2018-19 campaign he had; he was scoring at a first-line rate for some OHL teams with middle-six minutes.

Tomasino finished with nearly a primary point per game, 200 shots on net, almost all of his goals scored at even strength and a massively positive goals-for rate relative to his team (16.49%). He should star for the IceDogs this season as a top-line pivot, and the NHL won’t be far away from him.

Alexander Campbell - 13.242

Omaha Lancers [USHL]

I admittedly was nervous that my model rated Campbell this highly; I think he’s an underrated prospect but this seemed egregious. The more I settled into the data, however, the more I felt comfortable with it. Alex Newhook rightfully received the headlines in the BCHL last season, but his running mate was a huge reason why.

Campbell scored nearly a primary point per game, had a balanced attack on special teams and even strength, was involved in a plurality of the team’s offense, and had one of the best ‘Betweenness’ scores in the league - Evan Oppenheimer’s measurement of how big and how wide a player’s offensive set-up contributions are (translated: he scored and assisted on lots of goals by many distinct players and was relied upon by teammates regularly to set up plays).

Jachym Kondelik - 10.516

University of Connecticut [NCAA]

Kondelik is a frequently-cited example of an underrated prospect going into 2018-19. He came out of the gates firing (well, not really, more passing) and racked up 14 primary points landing him second in scoring for a woeful Huskies team. He shot the puck just 66 times and contributed very little on special teams, but he recorded one of the highest relative goals-for rates in the pipeline and was involved in some way in a plurality of the Huskies’ offense.

With more consistent first-line playing time in 2019-20, I expect more shooting and a decent shot at the team scoring title.

Laurent Dauphin - 7.400

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Dauphin was a surprise entry into my top-25 rankings. Not because I think he’s bad or overrated, but I figured Colin Blackwell would likely leap ahead of him. But, my model had other ideas. He scored more primary points than Blackwell but had four fewer goals (half were on special teams but two of those were shorthanded). He was also a positive scoring driver relative to his teammates at 3.00%.

Most importantly, he headlines a deep list of veteran options for Milwaukee at center ice this season. Off the top, you’ve got Blackwell, Dauphin, Cole Schneider, and Joe Pendenza and that doesn’t include actual prospects that may line up at center or wing (e.g. Pitlick, Richard, etc.).

Cole Schneider - 7.050

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Schneider is a fascinating case: he was second on the Admirals in goals last year with 23 and provided a huge jolt to the offense after coming over in a deal with the New York Rangers. His 37 primary points were just behind Anthony Richard for the team lead, and he contributed on all special teams units and was a positive possession player.

Towards the end of the season he found himself on Colin Blackwell’s wing, and I didn’t love that combination, but I don’t think that will be a regularity this year. The organization somehow convinced him to come back on a maxed-out AHL contract for 2019-20.

Hunter Garlent - 6.149

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Garlent signed an AHL deal this summer that was disguised as an invite to development camp in June. He’s an older skater that’s three seasons removed from leading the 2015-16 Peterborough Petes in scoring with 87 points. His USports career was excellent, as he totaled 131 points in 90 games, but it’s tough to translate those numbers.

He’ll begin the season as AHL depth and may see some significant time in the ECHL, but my model can’t ignore how instrumental he was in leading possession for Saint Mary’s University last season, so he could surprise in a bottom-six AHL role.

Colin Blackwell - 5.946

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Blackwell, in theory, should be rated higher by my model, and I spent a decent time trying to tune things to make that the case. When on the ice, he was almost always Milwaukee’s best player. Ultimately, though, playing just 43 games due to injury and NHL call-ups hindered his score. But, make no mistake, 24 primary points and 14 goals was great production.

Half of those goals were scored on the power play, and he saw a -5.4% relative goals-for rate, but I’ll chalk that up mostly to top-line assignments. He will start (and should finish) 2019-20 as the team’s number one center.

Tommy Novak - 5.915

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

We all knew that Tommy Novak’s future in the organization was not going to be spectacular. After an injury-riddled collegiate career, the cerebral player who was once a wizard with the puck lost some of his edge. But I’m happy to see him get an AHL deal and think he can be an effective depth option.

He didn’t score much at Minnesota his senior year, but he added 14 primary points and took almost no penalties. With lighter assignments and some ECHL seasoning, I don’t see why he can’t carve out a decent minor league career.

Joe Pendenza - 4.031

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Pendenza came back to the Admirals on a PTO last December and did nothing but impress, earning a full-time AHL deal in the process. In 40 games, he scored seven times and added 11 assists with mostly bottom-six ice time. Those seven goals came on just 50 shots and two were put in while shorthanded.

He helped ensure consistency, centering Yakov Trenin for much of the latter half of the year, and contributed well to scoring rates, notching an 8.3% goals-for rate relative to his teammates. The scoring may not maintain that pace over a full season, but Pendenza is an important third or fourth line option for the Admirals in 2019-20.

Hugo Roy - 3.534

Milwaukee Admirals [AHL]

Roy is the second skater Nashville pulled from Canadian USports back into the professional ranks with little fanfare. He signed an AHL deal last February—one season removed from playing in the QMJHL—and earned a two-year extension on that deal in late March.

Our sample size is small (Roy played a total of 10 professional games last season), but I don’t think an increase in that will affect things much in 2019-20. He is most certainly AHL depth and should see significant time in Florida.


All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, pick224.com, theahl.com, echl.com, ncaa.com, ontariohockeyleague.com, bchl.ca, and usports.ca.