It’s been over a month since the Nashville Predators ended their quest for the Stanley Cup with a 1st round defeat to the Dallas Stars. But since there’s only so much analysis one can perform on the disappointment of the 2018-19 Predators, it’s time to look ahead to the future.
That future begins with the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, which is a little over three weeks away.
On Friday, June 21st, all 31 NHL teams will meet in Vancouver for the draft, that pivotal moment in time when most NHL players begin their professional hockey careers. The Predators, unlike last year, will have a 1st round pick (barring a trade) and will select at #24.
While the likely top picks this year, Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, are going to be well out of the Predators’ reach, there are plenty of good options late in this draft for the Predators to target. To help analyze the options, I sought the advice of Eric Dunay, the draft and prospects writer for SB Nation’s On The Forecheck. I worked with Eric closely while I was at OTF and value his opinion greatly, so I figured I would get his take on a few of these guys.
With that, here are five players the Predators could draft late in the 1st round.
Samuel Poulin, LW
6’2″, 207 lbs | Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
Poulin was a good all-around winger for Sherbooke Phoenix, putting up 76 points in 67 games, including 29 goals. Though his point total just barely puts him in the top 20 in scoring in his league, he boasts some nice skill. Good puck skills, good passing, and decent speed to go along with an above average shot.
Perhaps most importantly for the Predators, he has some size, which Nashville desperately needs in its pipeline. Since he doesn’t “wow” you with any of his other skills, his size might be the best thing going for him.
Here was Eric’s take: “I don’t think he’s a fantastic skater, and he isn’t overly physical. But, to me, he is one of the more intelligent wingers in the draft and has really good awareness and passing ability. He’s got an NHL-ready wrist shot and size should not be a concern. His lack of quickness is what will hold him back from gaining better-controlled zone entries, but I think he can translate well to a middle-six scoring forward.”
Philip Tomasino, C
6’0″, 181 lbs | Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
It’s hard to say if Tomasino will be available to the Preds at 24. I’ve seen him ranked as high as 14 and as low as 31, so there seems to be mixed feelings on him. But he’s a quality center prospect and the Preds don’t have a lot of those, so they might want to take a look at him.
“Tomasino is one of the best talents in the draft, in my opinion, and his movement on a stacked depth chart [at Niagara] might cause him to slip to the end of the first round.”
When it comes to Tomasino, Eric thinks there’s a lot more to be excited about than worried about.
“The pros are endless. He’s an excellent skater, very creative, quick, good shot, good hands, good passing technique. He has good acceleration but can be caught gliding while looking for passing or shooting lates to open up. Other shifts, he makes them open up with his high-end skill. He isn’t physical and doesn’t come with a big frame but could be a steal of the draft and round out to a good 1B/2 Center.”
Connor McMichael, C
5’11”, 174 lbs | London Knights (OHL)
Speaking of speed and skating ability, Connor McDavid!
Wait, no, this isn’t him… but the name is close enough, right?
Connor McMichael looks like an excellent skating prospect with some good offensive talent, judging by some highlight videos. Eric and a few others have doubts that he’s a high end NHL talent, but he still brings some good qualities to the table.
“Good shot, okay passing and a good sense of finding open space in the offensive zone. He’s one of the better defensive forwards in this area of the draft.”
Nolan Foote, LW
6’3″, 187 lbs | Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
The son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote, Nolan Foote would probably be a stretch to be picked in the first round. Most rankings have him in the 30-35 range, with some as low as 80.
But he has a lot of assets the Preds could use. Size, physicality, and a consistent shot generating ability.
“He is not an above-average skater, but that can be improved. His shot is his top asset. I’m not certain it will translate that much if the skating doesn’t make strides.”
For what it’s worth, he also played well on the power play for Kelowna, something the Preds could obviously use more of. If he’s available and some of their other options are off the board, I could see the Preds looking at Foote.
Bobby Brink, RW
5’10”, 163 lbs | Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
The competition in the USHL isn’t as tough as the OHL, WHL, or QMJHL, but Bobby Brink finished the season 2nd in goals (35) and 4th in points (68) so he’s by far one of the better players in the league. His best attribute is his “hockey sense” which is something that is very difficult to teach.
“[Brink] understands passing like few others in this class and has tons of skill. Took over many, many shifts in all situations this past year.”
While he does have a very good shot, which is an important quality in a right winger, his passing and playmaking ability are excellent. Because he’s small in size, he probably won’t translate to a center in the NHL (unless he makes Steve Sullivan-esque leaps in his development), but the Preds could do a lot worse than an elite playmaking winger in their pipeline.
— Featured image via Timothy T. Ludwig/USA TODAY Sports —