2021 has finally arrived and most prospects in the Nashville Predators pipeline have hit the ice. But just as we neared full capacity, the Milwaukee Admirals made the unfortunate announcement that they’ve opted out of this coming season due to financial restraints.
It’s undoubtedly the right call, and Nashville has since partnered with the Carolina Hurricanes to assign prospects that don’t stick with the NHL roster or taxi squad to the AHL’s Chicago Wolves for the season — a story we first broke earlier this week.
With that all said, there’s still plenty to talk about from last month. The 2021 World Junior Championship has finished, and I’ll be recapping that in the near future, but for now, here’s the December Preds Prospects Report.
1... Late in December, Nashville placed recently acquired forward Michael Carcone and defender Frédéric Allard on waivers in a curious move. Allard, who was playing on loan in the Austrian ICEHL, was initially recalled on December 12, but EC VSV and Nashville worked out an arrangement to allow him to stay.
RE: Allard...@ecvsv announced he was returning to NA on 12/12, but it looks like a loan extension was worked out that I missed. Seems likely waivers are for a full season loan given the initial terms lasted until the start of training camp.#Preds https://t.co/u9iOOtsP67— On The Future (@OnTheFutureOTF) December 29, 2020
While I can’t speak for Carcone right now, it’s likely Allard’s waiver assignment (which he cleared) was for the purpose of a full-season loan in Austria — especially given the fact he approached the organization about going to Europe in the first place.
Given the recent news about Milwaukee and limited space in Nashville and Chicago, this assignment makes sense. However, Allard’s long-term future in Nashville remains very much in doubt.
Through 14 games in Austria, he has three goals, three primary points at even strength, and four total points.
2... One prospect who’s had a quiet season to date is UMass junior Marc Del Gaizo. The defender has featured on the Minutemen’s top pair for all 11 games this season, but his offensive production is curious.
In looking to rebound from an injury-riddled sophomore campaign where he played just 22 games, I anticipated Del Gaizo would pace the blue line in scoring. While he has scored eight points in those 11 games (on pace for the best points-per-game rate in his college career), that’s good for just third among UMass defenders, and only one of those points is a primary assist at even strength. With zero goals, perhaps he’s a tad snakebitten, as he’s peppered over three shots on goal per night.
3... Outside of the Admirals, three Nashville prospects have yet to play a game this season, including defender David Farrance. Nashville’s third-round pick from 2017, who led all NCAA defenders in scoring last season, will finally hit the ice for his senior season tonight against Providence College.
All indications are that Farrance will sign in Nashville once his final year at Boston University is complete.
4... The two other prospects who have yet to play this season are 2020 draft picks Luke Evangelista and Luke Prokop. Coming from the OHL and CHL respectively, the COVID-19 pandemic has repeatedly pushed back those leagues’ start debts, casting doubt a 2020-21 season will get going at all.
Predators General Manager David Poile - there should be some clarity for loan arrangements of CHL prospects (Evangelista, Tomasino, Prokop) in the next 48 hours. @OnTheForecheck #ForSmashville #PredsCamp— Shaun C. Smith (@SCSOTF) January 3, 2021
With the Admirals opting out and taxi squad assignments seeming unlikely, David Poile confirmed the organization is working on loan assignments for the two CHL players. We also have confirmation there will be an amendment to the NHL-CHL Agreement allowing for U20 players to go to the AHL if there is no CHL season.
5... Over in the KHL, Vladislav Yeryomenko is quietly putting together a nice sophomore campaign in Russia’s top league. The Dinamo Minsk defender had a two-goal night last month; he’s now scored four goals and five primary points at even strength in 36 games this season.
6... Last summer, I regularly reiterated my belief that Alexander Campbell would have a stellar freshman season at Clarkson University in 2020-21. So far, so good.
In his first 10 NCAA games, Campbell has registered four goals and 14 points—11 of which are primary points at even strength. He’s tied for sixth in points in the entire nation and ninth in points per game; alongside Arizona State’s Matthew Kopperud, he leads all freshmen in scoring too.
Campbell has been a possession monster. While there are valid concerns about his size, he’s had no problem cutting up ice and getting into the offensive zone with possession (66.7% successful entry rate). On top of that, he never stops firing the puck; through three games tracked, Campbell has thrown 22.98 individual shot attempts at the net per 60 minutes of five-on-five play—including 12.17 high-danger attempts.
He’s still a work in progress and years away from making an NHL impact, but Campbell is shaping up to be a can’t-miss prospect.
7... While only Grant Mismash and David Farrance are seniors this year, another prospect who’s facing a consequential season searching for an entry-level contract is Jachym Kondelik.
The UConn pivot—who regressed in offensive production from his freshman to sophomore seasons—is looking for a bounceback but has just six assists in nine games this season; four of them are primary assists at even strength.
Kondelik’s transition numbers remain strong (64.3% controlled exits and 57.14% controlled entries), and the power he can enter the zone with is obvious and demonstrated in the clip above. But too often, I fail to see him cutting to high-danger areas and getting dangerous shots towards the net, evidenced by his 8.08 individual shot attempts per 60 minutes of even-strength play.
It’s a wonky season, and that has to be accounted for, but I’m not certain Kondelik’s game is trending in the right direction.
8... Last month, the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation suspended play of the U20 circuit due to rising COVID-19 infection rates nationwide. Today, Isak Walther, Södertälje SK, and the rest of the league were sidelined for the remainder of the 2020-21 season due to the pandemic.
If he isn’t called up to Södertälje’s parent club in the Allsvenskan, Walther’s season is likely done.
9... A later pick in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft, Gunnarwolfe Fontaine has quickly been promoted from the third line to top-six minutes for the Northeastern Huskies just eight games into the season.
Fontaine has been buzzing around the ice all season—especially on the power play—but didn’t pick up his first NCAA goal until game five against Vermont. This season, he has two goals, two primary points at even strength, six total points, and a Hockey East ‘Rookie of the Week’ honor.
What I’m reading:
- “The driver, not the passenger”: Patrick Harper on heading to the next level — On The Forecheck
- Best and worst of the 2021 world juniors: NHL scouts vote for stars and flops — The Athletic [$]
- Around the AHL: Game on for the AHL — EP Rinkside [$]
- A player-by-player look at how Finland performed at the 2021 World Juniors — EP Rinkside [$]
- DU Pioneers freshman Carter Savoie’s scoring talent “the best I’ve ever seen” — Denver Post