Let me preface this by saying I do not believe the Nashville Predators will draft a defenseman in the first round of this weekend’s NHL draft. 

However, this is David Poile we are talking about, and let’s face it, Poile loves him some defense. 

With that in mind, I decided to go in-depth to try and get a sense of which defensemen will be around when the Preds pick at No. 24 and the likelihood that Nashville could consider them. 

Philip Broberg, Sweden-2

H: 6-3, W: 190

2018-19 stats: 41 GP, 2 G, 7 A, 9 P, 14 PIM

Average draft ranking: 15

What they’re saying about him:

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“A puck-moving defenseman with a big frame, Broberg utilizes his big body very well and once he gets some speed, he’s very hard to knock off the puck. He’s a great skater with strong powerful strides. When he doesn’t have the puck in his possession, he is still a threat offensively and likes to join the rush to create odd-man advantages. He’s very mobile on the offensive blue line and he’s constantly moving and trying to find open ice. Defensively, he plays a simple but active game. He makes good reads and intercepts passes in the neutral zone. He uses his big frame well and is a tough opponent to win a board battle against.” – Future Considerations

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“While not strictly an offensive defenseman, Broberg is an incredible skater, who can pick up the puck in his own zone and be buzzing behind the opposing net in a flash. Broberg can easily overpower players behind the net and in the corners. He can fire a variety of shot types at the net and all are hard, if not always well timed. Between his mobility and willingness to play tight defensively, he can play a shutdown role. He has the smarts and physicality to be a shut-down defender and the speed and offensive skills to play on a first pairing at even strength and a top power pay unit. Considering that he won’t turn 18 until after the draft and there is even more reason to suspect that he is still only scratching the surface of his potential.” – McKeen’s Hockey

Ville Heinola, Finland

H: 5-11, W: 178

2018-19 stats: 34 GP, 2 G, 12 A, 14 P, 26 PIM

Average draft ranking: 24

What they’re saying about him:

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“A capable, puck-moving defenseman, Heinola is poised under pressure and makes small but smart plays in his own end. He defends aggressively in the neutral zone, which can result in odd-man rushes for his team. He creates turnovers and is good at forcing the opposing team to try to cross the neutral zone again. His biggest weaknesses are on the defensive side of things. He gets caught out of position multiple times at even-strength and on the penalty kill. He’s able to make quick, small plays when required, but also has poise with the puck when holding it at the blue line. He projects to be solid two-way defenseman with an offensive upside.” – Future Considerations

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“The standout aspect of Heinola’s game is his hockey IQ. He is incredibly poised and rarely makes poor decisions on the puck. He plays with his head up and reads the game like a much more experienced player. Although he is a bit undersized, Heinola packs a potent point shot. Whether letting loose with a wrister or a slapper, they are very accurate, and consistently hit the net. He knows how to keep the puck low, enabling his teammates to tip or redirect the puck. He could grow into a second-pairing role, but that he has a bit more uncertainty in that outcome than some of the blue-liners we rank higher.” McKeen’s Hockey

Matthew Robertson, WHL

H: 6-3, W: 201

2018-19 stats: 52 GP, 7 G, 26 A, 33 P, 26 PIM

Average draft ranking: 27

What they’re saying about him:

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“Due to his size and skating prowess, Robertson stands out on the ice. He’s borderline impossible to strip of the puck once he has possession due to his ability to spin and protect it. He shows top-tier awareness and is strong at eliminating attack angles with good lane management techniques and his ability to adjust on the fly. He is quick and precise in his puck delivery and he has an elite wrist shot that may need some work with the release, but is on point and generates follow-up chances if he doesn’t beat goalies clean. Overall, he is a coach’s dream and a prospect with enormous potential.” – Future Considerations

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“Even in today’s speed and skill-based game, Robertson has elements to his game that could help him develop into a high-end shutdown defender. Beyond his supersized frame, he is very agile for a big man and moves his feet very well. With his mobility, he tends to keep tight gaps and it has been a rare sight for him to be beaten cleanly with speed. His anticipation is very good, and he often manages to step up on his man at the blue-line to stop a rush in its tracks. His hands are quick, and he is smart about getting the puck out of his own end with purpose and aim. He will always be bigger than most, but he will have to be a bit more assertive to have the same impact at the next level. He will need to speed up his release to avoid having too many attempts blocked going forward.” – McKeen’s Hockey

Ryan Johnson, USHL

H: 6-0, W: 173

2018-19 stats: 54 GP, 6 G, 19 A, 25 P, 26 PIM

Average draft ranking: 29

What they’re saying about him:

 “Showing awesome aggressiveness in front of his own net, he ties up bodies and the sticks of opponents well. He plays with an active stick in the defensive zone and defends the blue line well by standing up opponents. Due to his strong positioning, he often forces opponents to dump in the puck instead of letting them have a controlled zone entry. Relentless along the board in battles, he shows good instincts and awareness at both end of the ice and in the neutral zone.” – Future Considerations

“He is not an exciting offensive player, but he is not without value in the offensive end. He plays a regular power play role, although his point shot is average at best. He holds the offensive blue-line nicely and has a knack for preventing chip outs and getting the puck back in deep. He looks like a very safe bet to develop into a solid No. 3 defender on a good team, able to play a shut-down role at even strength and the penalty kill and providing a modicum of offensive value.” – McKeens Hockey

Drew Helleson, USA U18

H: 6-3, W: 193

2018-19 stats: 64 GP, 5 G, 18 A, 23 P, 28 PIM

Average draft ranking: 48

What they’re saying about him:

“He shows a very advanced, mature understanding of how to use his big frame to be reliable and effective in his own end. Beyond stickhandling well to evade pressure in the defensive zone, he can also surprise and undress opponents at the offensive blue-line with some slick moves. He is known for his abilities to move the puck along the blue-line and while he doesn’t have eye-popping offensive stats, he still contributes to the play in a very positive manner. He’ll never be a big offensive producer at the professional level, but projects well as a sound minute-munching defensive defender who also chips in the occasional points.” – Future Considerations

“A big defender, Helleson is a solid skater, and can keep up when defending the rush, but he needs to improve his footwork going forward, to allow him to better maneuver in smaller spaces. With his big, stronger frame, he has focused on being a strong physical presence at the back. He doesn’t go for the big hit, but consistently forces opponents to the outside and has a shoulder lowered, making them feel that a bone-jarring hit is imminent, even if he is just preparing to get his stick in there to try to force a turnover. Helleson may have the chance to play a more all-around game, but he currently projects as a good No. 5 with No. 4 upside.” – McKeen’s Hockey

What we learned:

Broberg, aside from having the coolest name in the draft, is probably the biggest long-shot. Projections have him going in the early-mid first round, so the chances of him slipping to No. 24 are slim.

Heinola is projected to go right around the Preds’ selection and he has good offensive upside. There are rave reviews about his hockey IQ, and he is considered to be a solid future second-airing defenseman. 

Robertson is also projected to be taken right around the Preds’ selection as well, and he may be a better fit for Nashville than Heinola. At 6-foot-3 and 201 pounds, Robertson has the grittiness and size to take a chance on at the end of the first round. He possesses the potential to become a stay-a-home, shutdown defender.

Johnson has some experience on the power play and he has a knack for firing off timely passes. Lacking on the offensive end, Johnson will need to develop that part of his game in order to fit in with Nashville. 

Helleson is the unlikeliest selections here due to being considered more of a second-round selection. At 6-foot-3, his size is ideal on the Nashville blue-line. However, he doesn’t project high offensively and many consider him to be more of a fourth or fifth defenseman than a top defender. 


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