The Nashville Predators went into this NHL draft weekend with eight picks and left making just six selections after a few trades. Here are my instant grades of the organization’s newest prospects. Of course, in the next couple of days, I’ll have a full video breakdown of each new player.
#19 - Fyodor Svechkov | F | Lada Togliatti [VHL]
Svechkov is a really excellent first-round pick for this franchise. There were some other players available that have higher offensive ceilings, but Nashville is gaining a near-guaranteed second-line center who’s already excelling on defense and has some of the best passing skills in this draft class.
I'll have my usual video breakdown of each #Preds pick in the coming days but wanted to share this Svechkov (#9, blue) clip...— OTF — Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) July 24, 2021
Lots to like here: astute penalty kill reads, disruptive defense, tenacity in puck pursuit, and a sweet pass to the backdoor.#2021NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/nWz9joxMdh
#27 - Zachary L’Heureux | F | Halifax Mooseheads [QMJHL]
I love L’Heureux’s game and had him at 28th on my final draft board, so on the surface, this should be an “A”. I docked Nashville a letter grade because I’m not sure I would’ve sacrificed both second-round picks to move up here. Nevertheless, the organization should be excited about the puck skills, tenacity, and attitude L’Heureux brings.
#72 - Anton Olsson | D | Malmö Redhawks [SHL]
Like several other players in this range of the draft class, you know exactly what you get with Anton Olsson. I had him ranked at 51st on my draft board, so this is good value. At the pro level, Olsson will provide nearly all of his value in the defensive zone.
#115 - Ryan Ufko | D | Chicago Steel [USHL]
I’m surprised Ufko fell this far but glad to see Nashville make this pick. He was firmly a second-round talent on my board, and I think the organization may have found a gem on the blue line here. Ufko will have every opportunity to smooth out his flaws at UMass on his way to becoming a puck-moving NHL defender.
#124 - Jack Matier | D | Ottawa 67s [OHL]
This one is a head-scratcher. I’m not automatically against project picks, and I see the value Nashville finds in Matier’s game. For his size, he moves all right, and he has a surprisingly good set of hands. But there was much more offensive upside still on the board at pick 124, and I think Matier is a long shot to make the NHL.
#179 - Simon Knak | F | Portland Winterhawks [WHL]
Knak was Nashville’s only overage pick made this season, but I’m fine with them taking a swing on him. He used his DY+1 season to improve his skating and gained valuable experience in Switzerland’s pro league, but I don’t think he’s more than a fourth-line forward if he gets to the NHL.