The Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped up a three-game rookie showcase at Ford Ice Center, with the Preds rookies taking two of three games.
Nashville won the first game, 4-2. Emil Pettersson had two goals, while Tyler Kelleher and Alex Carrier each had one. In Game 2, the Lightning took a 6-1 victory. Christian Hilbrich was the lone goal scorer for the Preds. Game 3 appeared to be on the way to a Nashville blowout, but the Lightning fought back to make it a game in the third. However, the Preds edged out a 5-4 win. Kelleher, Pettersson, T.J. Melancon, Yakov Trenin and Ryan Hughes scored the Nashville goals.
Three stars of rookie camp:
The 5-foot-6 forward is a man on a mission. Kelleher is out to earn an NHL contract, and after his showing at development camp and then rookie camp, if Nashville does not give him one, surely another team will. The strongest part of Kellerher’s game is his speed. At times during the rookie showcase, Kelleher appeared to be the fastest man on the ice.
He scored two goals, and dazzled in the shootouts with his top-notch deking. When you watch him play, you see why he was a Hobey Baker Award finalist at the University of New Hampshire. Currently contracted with the Milwaukee Admirals, Kelleher may have just played his way into a contract similarly to Freddy Gaudreau.
Not much is known about the 23-year-old Swede, however, after his impressive showing at the rookie showcase, Pettersson made some people take notice. He scored two goals in Game 1 and added a third goal in Game 3, showing that Nashville’s center depth has vastly improved since the days of Mike Ribeiro: No. 1 center.
The 6-foot-2 center has played for three different teams during the last four seasons in the Swedish Hockey League, and may have earned himself a roster spot this year in Milwaukee. Daniel Lavender of Admirals Roundtable had this to say about Pettersson:
“Emil Pettersson isn’t exactly the youngest of first-year talents entering the fray in 2017-18. He’ll turn 24-years old in January and has 203 games of senior team experience in the top two flights in Sweden. Him making Milwaukee’s roster and sticking simply comes down to his form and his consistency. He did well in the Rookie Tournament with names he could be playing alongside with in Milwaukee. I don’t see why he wouldn’t find a home in the AHL.”
What more can be said about Carrier that hasn’t already been said? Fun fact: Carrier is the first person in the Nashville organization to wear a “C” on the Preds new Adidas jersey. The 5-foot-11 defenseman has a golden opportunity with the injury to Ryan Ellis to make the Predators roster out of camp.
Predators coach Peter Laviolette mentioned Carrier specifically by name, along with Samuel Girard, as two players to keep an eye to compete for Ellis’ spot. Although goals wow the fans, the best part of Carrier’s game is his sound defensive abilities.
During the rookie showcase, Carrier did not make many mistakes and appeared to be the most NHL-ready prospect on the ice. I know I am not alone in saying that 2017 is the year of Alex Carrier.
Jake Paterson, Samuel Girard, Yakov Trenin, Justin Kirkland
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter at @mpatrickg5, follow Daniel Lavender at @Adsroundtable, follow Penalty Box Radio at @PenaltyBoxRadio.
All in-story photos courtesy of Camryn Martz