It’s been a long time coming since my last monthly prospects report, but the 2020-21 season is finally underway for some in the Nashville Predators’ pipeline. This year, I’ll be providing my usual monthly notes, along with regular analysis and manually-tracked data of every prospect in the organization.
1... The 2020-21 season began quietly for Semyon Chistyakov. The fourth-round pick last year made Avangard Omsk’s (KHL) roster out of training camp as a 19-year old but started game one as the teams seventh defender. Since then, however, the coaching staff has loosened their grip on him. In 16 games, Chistyakov has recorded two assists and is averaging over 18 shifts per game, mostly alongside Hurricanes prospect Oliwer Kaski on the third or second pair.
Выход 2 в 1 нейтрализует молодой защитник Чистяков pic.twitter.com/5cduDOOByJ— ХК Авангард (@hcavangardomsk) September 22, 2020
Chistyakov, who was at Russia’s World Junior Championship (WJC) summer camp, has skated the most of any U20 defenders in the KHL besides Shakir Mukhamadullin. He’ll have a decent shot at a WJC roster spot come December.
2... Nashville’s other defender playing in the KHL, Vladislav Yeryomenko, is suiting up again for Dinamo Minsk as they look to improve on their league-worst record in 2019-20. Despite dealing with some injury issues early this season, Yeryomenko has one goal and three points in 10 games for the Bison.
Additionally, Minsk’s season has been mired with protest and concern over the political unrest in Belarus as season-ticket holders have threatened to boycott, and the team earned their first win via forfeit from Eeli Tolvanen’s Jokerit due to the KHL’s ridiculous handling of the matter.
3... Nashville’s seventh-round pick last year, Juuso Pärssinen, is looking to repeat his impressive Liiga debut last year. After earning the call-up from the U20 level, Pärssinen notched five goals and 12 points in 31 games for TPS in Finland’s professional league in 2019-20.
This season, Pärssinen has skated in four games at the Liiga level as the team’s first or second line center and recorded two assists. With a spot on Finland’s WJC roster on the line, it’s notable Pärssinen is serving as an assistant captain for TPS at just 19 years of age.
4... Eeli Tolvanen has been excellent for Jokerit of the KHL this season. It was a shrewd (and I’d say necessary) move to loan him back to Europe until the NHL season starts, and he’s responded with two goals and seven points in nine games.
So far, I’ve tracked two of Tolvanen’s games this season. At even-strength, he recorded a 62.5% Corsi, 75.0% controlled exit rate, 66.7% controlled entry rate, and 17.01 individual attempts per 60 minutes, 10.63 of which were from high-danger areas.
5... David Poile started his offseason business by cleaning up a mildly contentious contract negotiation with forward Yakov Trenin. The Russian forward, who will be a full-time NHL player when the season returns, signed a two-year, one-way contract extension and then was loaned to the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg.
Despite a slow start, Trenin has now scored in back-to-back games as he has moved through SKA’s top-six lineup. Given the high level of play in the KHL, I don’t expect Trenin to light the scoresheet on fire, but he’ll be better prepared for a full campaign in the NHL.
6... 2019 sixth-round pick Isak Walther has shown an immediate bounce back from his disappointing DY+1 season for Södertälje SK J20. In 13 games this season, he’s recorded six goals and 13 points — good for second on the team.
I’ve tracked two games of his as well, and despite his apparent mechanical shortcomings (skating), he’s looked far more dynamic on and off the puck. He’s shot the puck 34 times already and has a 21.81% goals-for rate relative to his teammates at even strength.
7... Not that an entry-level offer was ever likely, but it’s become increasingly clear that Nashville has little to no future plans for 2016 draftee Konstantin Volkov. The Russian goalie was expected to take another step forward after a 30-game season for Ugra of the VHL in 2019-20. However, he’s mostly ceded the net to Vladimir Sokhatsky, starting just five games and appearing in six this season.
So far, his 0.935 save percentage equals 1.208 goals-saved above average.
8... Nashville added seven new prospects to their pipeline at the 2020 NHL Entry Draft last week. While only one them has any serious chance at an NHL impact in the near future, here are the current 2020-21 plans for each:
Yaroslav Askarov - SKA St. Petersburg (KHL) - KHL contract ends after 2021-22; Luke Evangelista - London Knights (OHL) - OHL season delayed until December at the earliest; Luke Prokop - Calgary Hitmen (WHL) - WHL season delayed until December at the earliest; Adam Wilsby - Skellefteå AIK (SHL) - Currently playing; Luke Reid - University of New Hampshire (NCAA) - Hockey East season delayed until November at the earliest; Gunnarwolfe Fontaine - Northeastern University (NCAA) - Hockey East season delayed until November at the earliest; Chase McLane - Penn State University (NCAA) - Big Ten season delayed until November at the earliest.
9... As the fate of the 2020-21 season starts to become clearer, there may be some changes to the league’s normal offseason schedule. Regardless, Nashville will have two prospects whose negotiating rights they are losing next summer: David Farrance and Grant Mismash. Both are seniors in college this season, and Nashville will have until (as of now) August 15, 2021 to sign them to entry-level contracts.
What I’m reading:
- Milwaukee Admirals Podcast Episode 42: Simon Gamache - Milwaukee Admirals
- TPS’s Juuso Pärssinen is ready for the final breakthrough... - Liiga.fi
- ‘It’s all there’: Like Kopitar and Malkin, Quinton Byfield is the full package - The Score
- How One Conference Has Reacted to Changing Times - College Hockey News
- ‘I Will Be So Thankful To Be On The Ice’ - News @ Northeastern
- The 2021 NHL Draft ranking: Corey Pronman’s top 35 prospects - The Athletic [$]
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com and my own manual data tracking.