The Nashville Predators walked away from the 2018 NHL Entry Draft in Dallas with four new prospects added to the pipeline. All in all, it was a fairly uneventful weekend from the organization’s perspective. Corey Pronman, at The Athletic, gave the organization a D letter grade for the weekend and mostly cited their lack of picks until late into Saturday.
I generally agree that this weekend was not that exciting, but four new prospects can be. So, here’s a full analysis of all four players’ and their future in Nashville.
Jachym Kondelik - C (111th overall)
Muskegon Lumberjacks - USHL / 6’6” - 227 lbs. / Hanover, GER
After trading away their third-round pick, the Predators’ first selection of the weekend was Kondelik in the fourth round.
This pick can very much be classified as one based on upside - a project pick. I generally like Kondelik. As much as the league is changing to a speed-based one, size is still valued for things like puck protection and the ability corner opponents deep in the offensive zone. These are two skills that Kondelik excels at.
You’ll notice his impressive jump in offensive production in his sophomore season in the USHL. It’s an encouraging sign as he heads to the University of Connecticut next season.
I recently read an interview with Kondelik where he made it pretty clear how strong his desire was to come to America and play collegiate hockey. He actually visited Boston University but will ultimately play with Tomas Vomacka at UConn.
This clip perfectly exemplifies Kondelik’s (#25) offensive game. He provides great puck support below the goal line, uses textbook edge work and his massive frame to protect the puck, and throws a hard, well-placed wrist shot on net.
In this clip you can notice Kondelik’s awkward skating stride. In the same interview he mentioned needing to improve his foot speed. But, regardless, he out-muscles the defender and expertly places a shot on net to create a rebound.
Here, once again, he provides good puck support, takes a good angle to the net, and uses his long reach to protect the puck and work around the goalie for a goal.
He is a solid two-way pivot with an offensive touch. He makes good passes and sees the ice ahead of him very well after making a good adjustment to smaller North American ice. Additionally, he could be an interesting touch on the point of a power play. He needs to work on refining his decision making, improving his skating, and better using his size in the defensive zone.
UConn should be a good landing spot for his development. Kondelik is a ways away from the pro ranks but projects as a bottom-6/depth center that can play “tough” minutes.
Spencer Stastney - LHD (131st overall)
U.S. National Team Development Program - USHL / 5’10” - 179 lbs. / Mequon, WIS
With their second pick of the day, the organization looked to restock their defensive prospect pool. Stastney is the second college commit taken by the organization as he will head to the University of Notre Dame next season.
Stastney’s numbers with the USNTDP are pretty impressive for a bottom-pairing defenseman. He is on the smaller side of things but likes getting involved offensively. He is an impressive puck carrier who can navigate well through the neutral zone and dish the puck off their or when entering the offensive zone. You can see below his solid passing abilities and up-ice vision.
Below is an example of Stastney’s offensive-zone focus on efficiently getting the puck to the net.
He has probably reached his offensive ceiling but has shown good prowess in his own zone. Don’t count on him out-muscling bigger opponents, but he is adept at stepping into passing and shooting lanes and maintaining an active stick.
Stastney most likely rounds out as a long-shot to make the NHL, but I’m curious to see his collegiate development.
Vladislav Yeryomenko - RHD (151st overall)
Calgary Hitmen - WHL / 6’0” - 176 lbs. / Mishutki, BLR
Adding a right-shooting defenseman to the pipeline is a good first step to continually balancing defensive pairs. It’s even better when that defensive prospect has some offensive touch to his game. Yereyomenko recently finished his second season with the Hitmen of the bruising Western Hockey League and it came with massive progress.
Yeryomenko was called on to play many more minutes in all situations for a rebuilding Hitmen team this year and responded with 13 goals and 41 points. After starting the season playing with Hurricanes’ prospect Jake Bean, “Yoyo”, as he is called, was cast on his own when Bean was traded to the Tri-City Americans. He also impressed at the World Junior Championship in Buffalo in December as his stock rose throughout the year.
Yeryomenko has solid offensive instincts. He isn’t a fantastic skater, but his long reach allows for creativity with the puck. In the clip above, I’m enamored with how he always keeps the puck moving on his blade before attacking.
Yeryomenko also acts as a nice linchpin on the point for a power play or dominant offensive shift. He has good shooting abilities and is constantly in search of open ice or open lanes.
In terms of his defensive play, he relies mostly on positioning instead of physical play and can be caught flat-footed. To me, he rounds out as a bottom-4 defenseman with high upside. Regardless, he’s probably my favorite pick from the organization this year.
Milan Kloucek - G (213th overall)
HC Dynamo Pardubice - Czech / 6’3” - 196 lbs. / Pardubice, CZE
Kloucek is a relative unkown despite being an overage goaltender at age 20. He bounced around the Czech Republic this season playing in the top-tiered and second-tiered leagues as well as the top junior league. All in all, he appeared in 29 Czech league games.
Below is a clip from a game that Kloucek came in in relief. As the attack enters the offensive zone, he is square to the puck but is fooled by an aggressive tow drag, leans right to cover the far post and leaves his low-glove exposed.
Below is a clip from the same game. I like his detailed frame and how far he comes out of his crease for this quasi-breakaway. His glove hand reminds me a bit of Miroslav Svoboda’s where his attention to detail on how he carriers it may inhibit his responsiveness.
Overall, in limited viewings, I generally like what I see from Kloucek. He is a sound net-minder who can have aggressive positioning and okay reaction skills. Kloucek seems par for the course right now for a late seventh-round pick.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com.