With the draft under a week away, I’m providing some further detail on players the Nashville Predators should target with each of their current picks.
As a reminder, these are players I think will be available, players who fall in line with the team’s draft biases, and—occasionally—players I’ve heard linked to the team.
Draft Board - 135th Overall
|Leo Lööf||D||Färjestad BK||J20 SuperElit||43||2||13||15||DY|
|Maximilian Glötzl||D||Kölner Junghaie||DNL U20||31||4||24||28||DY|
SKA-1946 St. Petersburg [MHL] / F / 6’1” - 194 lbs.
In his second draft-eligible season, Gordin was dominant for a terrorizing SKA team, scoring 68 points in 59 games. That production was good for sixth league-wide but 17 points clear of his teammate Alexei Tsyplakov for the lead on his St. Petersburg club. Despite being on the younger side of the DY+1 class, Gordin was fifth among that group in primary points per MHL game with 0.9661. 26 of his goals came at even strength.
Gordin would undoubtedly be a project, but his frame allows for reasonable excitement at the potential. He’s a slower skater with poor mechanics. His skating isn’t terrible, but it’s clear he needs to seriously reform his knee bend, stride extension and recovery angle. Regardless, he finds creative ways to beat defenders—like short, accurate passes off teammates, excellent puck protection skills, and a good ability to expose opponents who pivot too early or overcommit. He’s got a powerful shooting ability too (including on the backhand) and almost never misses when he finds open space.
Färjestad BK J20 [SuperElit] / D / 6’1” - 179 lbs.
The middle rounds of the draft are where rankings really diverge from mock drafts, and Lööf is a perfect example. In my final ranking, I slotted him in at 91. That’s a projection on his ceiling, but it seems likely the Swedish defender slips into rounds four or five. Regardless, he would be an astute selection for Nashville. Lööf is not a standout offensive talent; his 0.1163 primary points per game rank 24th among all draft-eligible defenders at the SuperElit level. However, he did manage a 4.84% goals-for rate relative to his dreadful Färjestad team (minus-38 goal differential through regular season play).
Lööf is positionally sound in every stretch of the ice and shines in his defensive zone. He’s a mobile player who is rarely caught in a stagnant position and uses an active stick to threaten passing and shooting lanes. He’s physical but not in a harmful sense; his instinct always defaults to using his body to create a takeaway, while his stick work helps facilitate that possession change. As of now, my biggest concern is just his decision-making pace, which should hopefully improve with maturity.
Madison Capitols [USHL] / LW / 6’4” - 201 lbs.
At 6’4”, you’d imagine teams would be lining up to select someone with his size, but I’m unsure how playing for a Madison squad that managed just 12 wins last year affects Bantle’s standing. He led the Capitols in scoring and was fifth among all draft-eligible skaters across the USHL. His 0.4898 even-strength primary points per game were seventh among that same group, and he escaped with a 14.64% goals-for rate relative to his basement-dwelling team.
Bantle, maybe unsurprisingly, isn’t a refined skater. His knee bend is fine, as is his extension, but his recovery stride doesn’t come cleanly under his torso and he skates with a bizarre angle to his edges as he pushes out. Regardless, I don’t share as grave concerns about his speed as others, and his stature does the trick to create impenetrable layers of protection while moving the puck.
Bantle has a soft touch with the puck and can deliver passes well in tight spaces, score off the rush (while lacking pace) with a good wrist and snap shot, and he forces defenders into puck battles that create open lanes for teammates. The Michigan Tech-commit will have ample time in college to attend to his deficiencies, but I see no reason his scoring pace will slow down.
Kölner Junghaie U20 [DNL U20] / D / 6’2” - 198 lbs.
Glötzl is a player I stumbled upon last summer by chance and heard high praise of after diving deeper into his draft stock. The U20 level in Germany is barely scouted to the depths of other junior circuits, but Glötzl impressed this season, finishing with the highest points-per-game (0.90) of all draft-eligible defenders and ninth-highest among all skaters.
Glötzl is a good skater who utilizes strong edge control, great rotational power in his hips, and quick pivoting abilities to retrieve pucks and move quickly on defense to maintain a proper gap. As with many skaters his age, you would like to see more intention in his decision making, especially in transition, but the tools are all there. I think he takes excellent angles to puck carriers to force them to the perimeter and plays with a sweeping stick and open body so as not to get beat with creative puck work or speed. On offense, Glötzl can move well with the puck—mostly head up—and deliver accurate passes; I see good instinct to shoot low for rebounds and high-danger chances, too.