Preds Prospects Report: January
Could we see two Russian prospects coming signing this spring?
With the month of January in the books, several Nashville prospects are nearing their respective leagues’ playoffs, and there is some contract speculation about others. Here’s my latest Predators prospects report.
1. A month ago, Fyodor Svechkov was bouncing between the KHL, the VHL, and the MHL dominating the junior ranks but struggling to produce against pros. Flash forward to today, and the 19-year-old looks rejuvenated playing in Russia’s top league with Spartak Moscow.
Fyodor Svechkov went coast to coast for 3rd @khl goal of the year yesterday.#Smashville pic.twitter.com/XD4KmgWBls— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) February 4, 2023
He’s still just averaging over 11 minutes per night playing in Spartak’s bottom six, but in his last ten games, he’s notched four points including his first two KHL goals. Svechkov is skating with more pace, executing his passes better, and moving well in transition.
On top of that, his KHL contract expires at the end of the year, and David Poile recently commented on his intentions to try to sign the 2021 first-round pick this spring.
2. Nashville’s third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Kasper Kulonummi, has been dominant at the U20 level this season. In 33 games with Tappara, he’s notched nine goals and 39 points playing up to 25 minutes each night; 17 points have been primary ones scored at even strength.
Kasper Kulonummi (#26, blue) recorded two assists yesterday in U20 action for @Tapparaofficial. He's posted 7 points in his last 10 games and 39 points in 33 games this season.#Smashville pic.twitter.com/oeK4sTvuud— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) February 4, 2023
The 6’1” defender has done everything he’s needed to at this level. While his speed still isn’t elite, he’s been demonstrating great vision when breaking out the puck, good shooting talent from the point, and better one-on-one defensive skills. Tappara’s parent squad is stacked on the blue line, meaning Kulonummi has appeared in just five Liiga games this season. He has another year under contract, but if there isn’t room for a top-six role in the pro ranks in 2023-24, he could be on the move to another Finnish club.
3. 2021 sixth-round pick Simon Knak has really impressed me lately. The 21-year-old winger is playing in his third season with HC Davos in the Swiss league and has recorded career bests in goals (7), assists (13), and points (20) in 41 games so far.
Simon Knak recorded his 7th goal of the season yesterday, surpassing his career best (6) in the Swiss league.#Smashville pic.twitter.com/6PQGueCE3z— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) February 4, 2023
Due to a recent string of injuries and absences in Davos’ lineup, Knak’s been given a top-line role in recent outings. He’s made the most of it, scoring two goals and four points in his last three games. Knak leads all U21 Swiss league players in scoring so far this season.
4. While the UMass Minutemen’s season hasn’t gone exactly to plan with a 10-13-3 record, Cole O’Hara has been a bright spot in their bottom six.
Two-goal night for Cole O’Hara so far. Hat trick watch… 🧢🧢#Smashville https://t.co/XXmKzLfaCw— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) December 28, 2022
The 2022 fourth-round pick has posted three goals and 14 points in 23 games this season (six of which have been primary ones scored at even strength). He’ll be a four-year player at UMass, and I’m still not sure of his NHL future, but I didn’t anticipate O’Hara being fifth on the team in scoring as a freshman.
5. I’ve been a huge fan of Alex Campbell since he was drafted in 2019. After his 33-point (in 37 games) sophomore season last year, I was certain in my faith in his NHL prospects. This year, however, has been difficult for Clarkson University and—at times—for Campbell too.
Alex Campbell had a HUGE night for @ClarksonMHockey last night. He posted 5 points, including two assists and a natural hat trick in the 3rd period.— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) February 5, 2023
He's up to 11 goals and 18 points in 25 games this season.#Smashville pic.twitter.com/DVt6Z6wuar
He’s had four multi-point nights and two hat tricks this season, including a massive performance last weekend against Brown. But—despite having just one scoreless streak more than two games—he’s disappeared in some contests as well. I still love Campbell’s scoring instinct and his knack for puck handling in tight areas. While he has good speed, I’d like to see him take another step with his accelerating gear before hitting the AHL, on top of adding a lot more strength.
6. Staying in the NCAA ranks, Adam Ingram has been facing the trials and tribulations of a freshman at St. Cloud State (SCSU). In 28 games with the Huskies, Ingram has scored four goals and 14 points, but just three of those points have been primary ones scored at even strength.
On top of that, he’s been relegated to SCSU’s fourth line, and he’s not shooting that much—even on the power play; he’s rocking an 11.11% shooting rate on just 1.29 shots per game. Ingram hasn’t been that involved in his team’s offense either, recording a primary point on just 30.0% of the even-strength goals he’s been on the ice for.
7. It’s certainly early, but I’m worried that Nashville may have missed on their 2022 fifth-round pick Graham Sward. The 19-year-old was taken as an overage player last summer, and while he’s a perfectly fine junior player, I just haven’t seen a big step in his development this year.
The 6’3” defender has been playing a lot on the Winnipeg Ice’s third pair, and he’s recorded just two goals and 19 points in 38 games. Much like Ingram, Sward hasn’t been shooting much either, registering just 1.18 shots-on-goal per contest. His defense is as solid as ever, but I’m concerned about his offensive ceiling at higher levels.
8. Semyon Chistyakov has been one of Nashville’s most impressive prospects this season. The 21-year-old defender has been a mainstay in Avangard Omsk’s lineup and has posted five goals and 21 points in 49 games.
In the month of January, Chistyakov posted four points in 11 games, but he’s fresh off an eight-game point streak in December. He’s defending well, keeping almost three-fourths of zone entries against him to the perimeter of the zone and winning 88.9% of puck retrieval races (through five games tracked). Chistyakov is shooting more at even strength, registering 10.93 shot attempts per 60 minutes, and he’s been a great possession player with a 57.7% Corsi.
Chistyakov’s KHL contract is up at the end of this season, and I’m almost certain we’ll see the hard-hitting defender in Milwaukee in 2023-24 after David Poile aggressively pursued him a couple of years ago.
9. Ben Strinden is another NCAA rookie who has shown well this season. The University of North Dakota’s coaching staff has been facing tough lineup decisions every night, so Strinden has only played 18 of their 27 games—mostly on the Fighting Hawks’ fourth line. But he’s scored three times and recorded six of his nine points in the month of January; that earned him NCHC Rookie of the Week honors earlier last month.
What I’m reading:
- Predators prospect L’Heureux thriving after hernia surgery — NHL
- Prospect Jack Matier Enjoying Breakout Season in Ontario Hockey League — Nashville Predators
- UND’s fourth-line production making for tough lineup decisions — Grand Forks Herald
- Nashville Predators are No. 10 in 2023 NHL prospect pool rankings — The Athletic ($)
- Milwaukee Admirals Pride Night a winner despite some complaints — Milwaukee Journal Sentinel/
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, khl.ru, collegehockeynews.com, or my own manual data tracking.