The Nashville Predators took a big step towards improving their prospect pool on Friday night, drafting talented center Philip Tomasino with the #24 selection at the NHL Entry Draft.

The 6’0″, 181 pound center from the Niagara Ice Dogs comes to the Predators as a highly skilled player with a lot of speed in his game. With excellent hands, a good shot, and good passing technique, the Predators might have just landed a future 1st or 2nd line center.

At the very least, the Preds have instantly improved their weak prospect pool by drafting Tomasino, especially considering the position he plays. Going into the draft, the Predators’ depth at center in Milwaukee was bare. Yakov Trenin, the Preds’ 2nd round selection in 2015, has yet to make any real progress. Rem Pitlick and Anthony Richard are probably fringe players. And Eeli Tolvanen, the Predators’ best prospect to date, plays on the wing.

Without a doubt, Tomasino instantly becomes the #1 center prospect in the franchise and it isn’t even close.

“No Major Weakness”

The tale of the tape on Philip Tomasino is that he’s a quality, all-around good player at the center position. One scouting report went so far as to say there’s “no major weakness in his game” adding that “there’s no question about his offensive abilities.”

Passing, shooting, playmaking, speed, mobility, puckhandling… you name it, this kid can do it.

This is excellent news for the Predators, who are in desperate need of a player who can do a lot of things well. They need quality forwards in their pipeline who aren’t one dimensional and who also aren’t long term “projects” that they have to wait on.

Tomasino is anything but one dimensional, as he does a lot of things really well. He projects as at least a #2 center, but could possibly stretch into a #1 if he develops his physical game a little bit more. He will likely gain some muscle on his 181 pound frame, which will help.

A Center… Finally!

This draft selection also bucks a trend with the Preds as it relates to drafting centers. The last time the Predators drafted a center in the 1st round was 2008, when they selected Colin Wilson out of Boston University.

In fact, the Predators have only drafted two highly rated centers in their history in the first round. Before Colin Wilson, you have to go all the way back to David Legand at #2 overall back in 1998.

But then Friday night, for the first time in 11 years, the Predators drafted a center. And unlike Colin Wilson, he probably stays at that position while in development with Nashville.

Heading into the draft, most analysts felt that the Predators might go with a forward at #24, but there was a question about whether any quality centers would fall that far. When it came time to pick, Nashville actually had several quality centers to pick from, including Tomasino, Ryan Suzuki, Connor McMichael, Raphael Lavoie, and John Beecher. 

The Preds couldn’t have gone wrong with any of those players, but they definitely selected the best of the group with Tomasino.

Next Steps

The Predators will get their first look at Tomasino, and all the rest of their draft picks, at Development Camp, which begins next week on June 25th.

Plenty of young prospects for the Preds will be at Development Camp, which will take place at the Ford Ice Center and Centennial Sportsplex. The Preds will also host a Future Stars Game on Saturday, June 29th at 7 p.m. at the Ford Ice Center.

It may take a year or two for Philip Tomasino to make his way to the NHL roster (he’s only 17 and doesn’t turn 18 until August), so this development camp might be Predators fans only chance to see him for a while.

— Featured image via Terry Wilson/OHL Images —

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