It’s 2022, and that means we’re one step closer to the typical undrafted free agent window, the Frozen Four, the Memorial Cup, and more. With that, here’s the latest on Nashville’s prospect pipeline over the last month.
1. One of the organization’s players of the month has to be Jachym Kondelik. The University of Connecticut senior went on a tear in January, scoring five goals and nine points in eight games for the Huskies. Centering UConn’s top line, Kondelik was a point shy of matching his scoring pace from last year (22 points in 23 games). He’s got much more of the season to go and needs just one goal and six points to beat his career-high set as a freshman; ten of his 21 points are primary ones scored at even strength.
Though still not shooting as much as he could, Kondelik is setting up his teammates at a blistering rate with 14.38 primary shot assists per 60 minutes (through five games tracked). And while he’s not the quickest, particularly during five-on-five hockey, he’s still a net-front threat on the power play.
Once Kondelik finishes up this season, he can sign with Nashville or become a free agent on August 15.
2. Another prospect whose exclusive negotiating rights expire this summer is Swedish defender Adam Wilsby. The 21-year old fourth-round pick has scored two goals and 12 points in 35 games of his second SHL season for Skellefteå AIK, and—for my money—may be the most overlooked option on the blue line when it comes to Nashville’s roster in the next two seasons.
Last week, I spoke to Wilsby’s agent, Erik Wallström, who said, “His long-term goal is to play in the big league. He’s been following the NHL closely; he’s a guy who is looking a lot at specific players, trying to find parts of their game to emulate.”
He wouldn’t share a timeline on when Wilsby will sign his entry-level deal with Nashville but confirmed that talks are ongoing.
Speaking of Swedish defenders in the pipeline, a report from the Kvällsposten suggests that Skellefteå will be signing fellow Preds prospect Anton Olsson when he becomes a free agent after this season.
3. Another college prospect who had a hot January is defender Ryan Ufko. The UMass Minuteman scored one goal and three assists last month, increasing his freshman season total to two goals and 16 points in 23 games; that’s good for third in team scoring and second among team defenders.
UMass is up to tenth in the latest USCHO Division I Men’s Poll.
4. Over in the ECAC, Alex Campbell continues to impress in his sophomore season at Clarkson University. The 2019 third-round pick has scored 11 goals and 22 points in 26 games this year (second in team scoring), including three goals and four assists in January.
Campbell, who’s still finding his feet physically in the college game, excels at using his speed in transition to get behind defenders and create high-danger scoring chances. He has a 77.8% zone exit success rate and a 56.5% zone entry success rate (in four games tracked), plus 13.4 shot attempts per 60 minutes, including 5.6 from high-danger areas.
5. Campbell’s teammate, Ethan Haider, was named a finalist last month for the Richter Award, which is given annually to the top goalie in NCAA men’s ice hockey. Haider, who’s received the vast majority of starts this season for the Golden Knights, had an up and down month. On the 16th, against RPI, he picked up his third shutout of the season, stopping all 21 shots he faced in a 5-0 win. A couple of weekends later, however, backup Jacob Mucitelli started consecutive games for the first time, and Haider was pulled in his return after giving up three goals on nine shots in just over 16 minutes of play against St. Lawrence.
6. Coming back from a canceled World Junior Championship, the latter half of the 2021-22 season was going to be a critical one for Fyodor Svechkov; the 2021 first-round pick hasn’t disappointed.
Since coming back to SKA Neva of the Russian VHL, Svechkov has scored six goals and 14 points in 11 games and has scored eight goals and 25 points in 26 games in total this year. 13 of those points were primary points scored at even strength, and Svechkov has recorded a primary assist on 54.2% of even-strength goals he’s been on the ice for this year.
7. With equal (if not higher) expectations for this season as Svechkov, Yaroslav Askarov began his January at Russia’s Olympics training camp. Though he didn’t make the team’s final roster, as expected, Askarov has returned back to league play and already started five games in the new year.
In his loan KHL start last month, Askarov stopped 20 of 21 shots and clinched a playoff spot for SKA. In the VHL, he’s gone 3-0-1 since the start of January, stopping 89 of the 101 shots he’s faced.
8. Defender Luke Prokop is doing his best to propel the Edmonton Oil Kings to a Memorial Cup appearance this season. In 37 games, he’s set a career-high in goals (nine) and tied his career-high in points (23) playing in the Oil Kings’ top four.
Since the start of January, Prokop has scored two goals and six points in nine games.
9. Just a quick note on some undrafted free agent news: last week, Jeff Marek reported that Nashville is a frontrunner to sign 21-year old goalie Mack Guzda. Guzda, a Knoxville native, has played in 15 games for the Barrie Colts of the OHL this season, registering a 0.924 save percentage and back-to-back Goalie of the Month honors.
Guzda started his OHL career with Owen Sound in the 2017-18 season and has posted pedestrian numbers up until this year; he recorded a 0.915 save percentage in ten games with the Attack before being traded to Barrie.
Toronto and Pittsburgh are two other frontrunners for the 6’5” netminder’s services. Click below to watch On The Forecheck’s Bryan Bastin speak with Nashville Predators’ color commentator, Chris Mason, about his connection to Guzda (36:31):
What I’m reading:
- Wheeler’s 2022 NHL prospect pool rankings: No. 12 Nashville Predators — The Athletic [$]
- Wright Retains, Cooley Rises in FC Hockey’s Midterm Ranking for 2022 Draft — FC Hockey
- Meet the Admirals’ gregarious Russian rookie Egor Afanasyev — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- Training Day with Zachary L’Heureux — QMJHL
- Luke Prokop Q&A — The Hockey News