Nashville Predators Top 25 Under 25: Nos. 20 through 16
Rookies report to camp this week, so lets get familiar with the top prospects the Nashville Predators organization has to offer.
We're continuing our look at the best prospects in the organization. For numbers 25-21, click here.
20. Austin Watson
When Austin Watson was drafted, he was expected to be the future of scoring for the Predators. That is obviously not the case as he is 23 and has only played 6 games at the NHL level. He is noted for having good defensive and scoring abilities (though not high scoring potential) and he is generally a solid defensive player.
Drafted: 18th overall in 2010.
Potential: At most, Watson is a third line scoring forward. He will need, however, to prove that he can make it at the NHL level first and foremost.
What's Next? Watson will look to prove himself in the 2014-2015 season as a player capable of playing NHL minutes. This could come in the form of him making it on a small fourth line role or it could come from splitting time playing a key role in Milwaukee and a fourth line role at the NHL level.
19. Patrick Cehlin
Patrick Cehlin is a speedy, offensive-minded, winger who can play on both sides of the ice. He is both an effective playmaker and scorer which, along with his skating speed, helped him find good chemistry with Filip Forsberg and Calle Jarnkrok.
Drafted: 126th overall in 2010.
Potential: Cehlin will, at most, be a second line supporting winger who could potentially be a very good compliment to some of the speedy scorers the Predators have both on their team and in their system. Because he doesn't have a high potential and could be forced to play on the third or fourth lines, he will likely need to work on the defensive side of the game.
What's Next? Cehlin will likely spend one more season in Milwaukee before he gets up to the NHL level as he still has a little more work to do in refining his game. If he is unable to find his way onto an NHL roster he will likely head back to Europe.
18. Marek Mazanec
When Pekka Rinne was injured, Mazanec came in and showed some flashes of brilliance along with some growing pains. He will need to gain more poise and confidence in his 6'4" frame but if his stint in Nashville showed us anything, it's that the 22-year-old netminder can hang in at the NHL level.
Drafted: 179 overall in 2012.
Potential: Marek Mazanec COULD potentially be the future starting goalie for the Predators but it's more likely he ends up as a solid backup option
What's Next? Unless he takes the reins from Carter Hutton in the 2014-2015 season as the Predators backup (a definite possibility) he will likely split time in Milwaukee with either Magnus Hellberg or Hutton.
17. Felix Girard
For the second season in a row, Girard won the defensive forward of the year in the QMJHL playing for Baie-Comeau Drakkar. He is a very gritty, hard hitting, defensive forward that possesses good leadership qualities as he was the captain for his QMJHL team last season. From what I saw at the prospect camp, he has a very low center of gravity which he uses very effectively to demolish his opponents.
Drafted: 95th overall in 2013.
Potential: Girard has the potential to be a very solid third or fourth line forward, as well as a PK specialist. He has limited offensive upside but his defensive capabilities could be very valuable for the Predators.
What's Next? Girard will spend 2014-2015 in Nashville's farm system where he will look to refine some of his defensive skills and hopefully develop some offensive ones as well.
16. Johan Alm
After a few successful season in Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League alongside 2014 Predators draft pick Viktor Arvidsson, Johan Alm signed a contract with the Predators this past season. At 6'2" Alm is an aggressive stay-at home defender who possesses fairly good speed.
Drafted: N/A (Signed as free agent in 2014.)
Potential: Alm's ceiling is that of a second or third line defensive defenseman. He doesn't really have any offensive skills of note and he's already 22 so I don't see much room for improvement in that regard.
What's Next? Alm could be a dark horse candidate for a roster spot this season but he would have to beat out Anton Volchenkov. Volchenkov's speed could prove a liability so it is within the realm of possibility that Alm, who plays a game very similar to Volchenkov's, could be seen as a slightly better option. If this is not the case, Alm will spend 2014-2015 in Milwaukee where he will likely immediately be one of their key defenseman, as he is already 22 and has been playing hard minutes in the SHL.