Preds Prospects Report: October
The pipeline has seen some stellar performances to start the season.
I’m back with another year of monthly prospect reports. Prospects across Nashville’s pipeline are underway with their 2022-23 seasons, and I’ve got the latest below.
1. Drafted in the third round of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, defender Kasper Kulonummi has made the most of his jump to the Tappara organization for the 2022-23 season. Playing for the Finnish club’s U20 squad, Kulonummi is second on his team, first among defenders league-wide, and second among all skaters in scoring with six goals and 27 points in 19 games.
Another goal for Kasper Kulonummi (#26, white) today in U20 action for @Tapparaofficial. Here's his power-play marker from last week:#Preds pic.twitter.com/m92k5QyXb3— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) September 9, 2022
Later this month, Finland will play in a U20 tournament with Czechia and Sweden as a tune-up for the 2023 World Junior Championship; Kulonummi will play on Finland’s challenger roster.
2. Nashville’s 2022 fifth-round pick—defender Graham Sward—has gotten off to a slow start this season, notching just four assists in eight games. But his surroundings on the bottom-feeding Spokane Chiefs have not been helpful; they currently sit last in the WHL’s western conference with a 3-8-0 record.
TRANSACTION | The Winnipeg ICE have acquired defenceman Graham Sward from the Spokane Chiefs.— Winnipeg ICE (@WHLWpgICE) October 29, 2022
Details ➡️ https://t.co/V1vlpObimO pic.twitter.com/qGJ9lk9DoZ
Before the season, I expected Sward to get dealt to a Memorial Cup contender, and that came to fruition last weekend. The 13-1-0 Winnipeg ICE acquired Sward for four draft picks and another player.
3. After a more up-and-down season last year, Jack Matier and the Ottawa 67s are off to a scorching start with a league-best 10-1-0 record. Matier is leading Ottawa’s top defensive pair and has scored five goals and 12 points through the first 11 games.
Three-point day for the #Preds Jack Matier, including his third goal of the season ⤵️#Smashville pic.twitter.com/Rn2UMQbtQT— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) October 16, 2022
Those 12 points lead all 67s’ defenders and place him fourth among all OHL blueliners.
4. Over in the Finnish Liiga, Joakim Kemell’s JYP squad sits next to last in the league with a 7-10-2 record. The 2022 first-round pick has had an okay DY+1 season, scoring seven goals and nine points in 19 games so far. That puts him on pace to only slightly best his 23 points from last year, but he has been rebounding from a recent scoring slump with two goals in his last two games.
Joakim Kemell pressing on the forecheck to score his 7th goal of the season.#Smashville #Preds pic.twitter.com/TWqR0fvwus— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) November 2, 2022
Kemell’s nine points put him fifth on his team and first among all U21 skaters league-wide. The story of Kemell’s game at even strength this year is that he’s been highly involved with a primary point on 80.00% of the goals he’s been on the ice for, but his team is scoring a lot without his line out there (-27.27% relative goals-for rate).
Kemell will join Kulonummi with Team Finland at the U20 four-nations tournament this month.
5. Two Nashville prospects who have yet to suit up this season are Zachary L’Heureux and Chase McLane. L’Heureux is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury, but the Halifax Mooseheads forward’s general manager expects his return around the end of November.
McLane is still dealing with a lower-body injury from last season that kept him off the ice during rookie camp. There is no timetable for the Penn State forward’s return right now.
6. While one of Nashville’s 2021 first-round picks is sidelined with an injury, the other is having a trying start to the season. Before the start of the 2022-23 campaign, Fyodor Svechkov was traded from the St. Petersburg organization to Spartak Moskva in the KHL—potentially opening up more ice time opportunities this year.
Unfortunately, it’s been anything but that. He’s dressed for ten KHL games but has mostly been stapled to the fourth line (or the bench), averaging under eight minutes of ice time each night and remaining without a point.
He’s spent the rest of the season in the VHL, appearing in 11 games for Khimik Voskresensk. During that time, he’s recorded just five points and not a single primary one at even strength. I’m not hitting the panic button, but he should be a dominant VHL player at this point in his career. With more consistent top-six ice time and more power-play opportunities, I think he can still get there.
7. 2016 sixth-round pick Konstantin Volkov is having a bit of a renaissance in the KHL this year. The 25-year-old goalie returned to Russia after a disastrous 2021-22 season in Finland, signing with Dynamo Moskva. After years of maxing out in the Russian VHL, Volkov has found a home as Moscow’s backup this season.
With nine appearances, Volkov has posted a 0.941 save percentage and saved 4.524 goals above average. He also sits second in the entire KHL with three shutouts already this season.
8. Simon Knak is enjoying his third season in Switzerland with HC Davos. The 2021 sixth-round draft pick has scored three goals and 11 points in his first 18 games—already matching his career best in the top Swiss league.
Simon Knak (#36, yellow) with his 3rd goal of the season today.#Smashville #Preds pic.twitter.com/aTGQG9r0Xw— OTF: Preds Prospects (@OnTheFutureOTF) November 2, 2022
Due to a rash of injuries on Davos’ roster, Knak has been recently promoted to the team’s top six and is now averaging a little over 14 minutes of ice time each night. Of his 11 points, seven have been primary points scored at even strength.
Last month, Knak was rewarded with a three-year contract extension from Davos, but thanks to the NHL’s somewhat recent transfer agreement with the Swiss league, he can still come to North America before its expiry after 2025-26.
9. I’ve always been skeptical of Luke Reid as an NHL prospect, and this season isn’t doing him any favors so far. The University of New Hampshire defender is in his third NCAA season and has notched zero points in eight games; he stalled out at eight points in each of his first two seasons.
Reid hasn’t become the dynamic offensive defender many thought he could be at the college level, and he continues to struggle with rush defense and with the accuracy of his zone exit passes. After helping surrender 5.31 even-strength goals per 60 minutes through eight games, Reid has been demoted to the Wildcats’ third pair. His development will be something to monitor this season.
What I’m reading:
- Taylor Makar and Ryan Ufko display notable jumps in their second year at UMass — Daily Collegian
- Matier: It’s a pretty special time for the 67s, but we’re just focused on the task ahead — TSN
- Three more years in Davos for Simon Knak — Swiss Hockey News
- ‘They’re gonna score a lot of goals’: Freshman fourth line adjusting quickly for UMass hockey — Daily Hampshire Gazette
- How a quiet revolution in NCAA men’s hockey recruiting is playing out at the University of Vermont — Sportsnet/
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com, khl.ru, or my own manual data tracking.