Welcome to the first edition of The Leap!
The Leap is a new series at PBR that will follow Predators prospects who are close to obtaining that coveted NHL roster spot. As we progress through the season we will bring statistics, highlights and insights to help you, the fan, get to know your future Predators players. While some will focus heavily on the big name Predators prospects (Tolvanen, Tomasino, Fabbro), The Leap will look at some players you may not have seen as much. For the ’19-’20 season we will focus on four players: Anthony Richard, Egor Afanasyev, Fredric Allard and Jeremy Davies. Each of these prospects has a real shot at making the NHL roster either this season or next and will carry some intrigue about what their ceiling could be.
For this first episode let’s take a look back at who each of these players are, how they came to the Predators organization and what they did last season.
C/LW Anthony Richard
Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 (Nashville Predators)
’18-’19 team: Milwaukee Admirals (AHL) Statistics: 73 GM, 24G, 23A, 47P, 153 SOG, 15.7 SH%
Anthony Richard has been on a regular upward trajectory since turning pro. In his three seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals has seen his goal totals increase from 4 to 19 to 24. Blessed with elite skating speed, Predators fans will recognize the Arvidsson-esque ability to recognize opportunities to stretch the opposition from the defensive zone and create breakaway chances. While he may never have the goal scoring acumen of Arvidsson, Richard has established a complete game and steady production. This growth led to his first NHL call up and first NHL game during the ’18-19 season.
’19-’20 Projection: While it is certainly possible that Richard could bump a current Predator player out of a roster spot, it is more likely that he remains in Milwaukee seeing top line usage and an organizational role as the first forward call up.
NHL Comparable: Tyler Ennis
RW Egor Afanasyev
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 (Nashville Predators)
’18-’19 team: Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
Statistics: 58 GM, 27G, 35A, 62P, 214 SOG, 12.6 SH%
Afanasyev has a unique combination of size and skill for a player of his age. According to McKeen’s Hockey Afanasyev is “… a big, powerful winger with a monster shot from the circles. Although a natural shooter, he is an accomplished playmaker…” which is a player type not common to the Preds forward prospect system. A big jump in USHL scoring garnered a lot of attention during the pre-draft process and vaulted him to a second round selection by the Predators. As he grows into his already sizable frame, Afanasyev should improve his foot speed and edge work to become a more complete skater.
’19-’20 Projection: Afanasyev is transitioning from the USHL into the OHL with the Windsor Spitfires. His size and shot should translate well to the offensive oriented game of the Ontario league. Look for Afanasyev to have a big year (30+ goals) in the OHL and compete for an NHL roster spot in 2020.
NHL Comparable: Anthony Mantha
RD Fredric Allard
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 (Nashville Predators)
’18-’19 team: Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
Statistics: 65 GM, 4G, 25A, 29P, 119 SOG, 3.4 SH%
Allard is probably the quietest NHL-ready prospect in the Predators system. While other prospects (Tolvanen, Fabbro, etc) have grabbed the relative headlines, Allard has put together two AHL seasons worthy of discussion for an NHL roster spot. His overall numbers were suppressed a bit but compared to his age group Allard performed among the best defensemen in the AHL. Allard is a skilled offensive player with a big shot and excellent hands to move the puck up to the forwards. His skating is improving and he has enough speed to keep up. Defensively Allard isn’t a shutdown player but he uses his stick well and battles for possession.
’19-’20 Projection: Barring a change at the bottom of the NHL roster, Allard will be one of the last cuts in training camp and get another season of AHL seasoning playing big minutes and all situations. He could see his first call up if an injury situation presents itself.
NHL Comparable: Damon Severson
LD Jeremy Davies
Drafted: 7th Round, 2016 (Nashville Predators)
’18-’19 team: Northeastern University (NCAA)
Statistics: 37 GM, 8G, 28A, 36P, 114 SOG, 7 SH%
When the P.K. Subban trade was announced, most Predator fans looked at the name Jeremy Davies and just assumed he was a toss-in from the Devils. Over the following days the fanbase learned more about him and found that the team had acquired a potentially very under the radar player. While he was drafted in the 7th round, Davies has put together back to back NCAA seasons with near point per game production which is almost unheard-of for a defenseman. For comparison’s sake, he put up more points than Fabbro in each of the past two seasons. Davies is an offensive defenseman who is an excellent skater and puck handler. The way he seeks out space and turns with speed as well as controlling the puck through opponent stick checks, he actually skates a lot like a certain Predators captain. It remains to be seen how he handles professional forwards defensively but Davies certainly looks to have the physical capability to be an effective two-way defender.
’19-’20 Projection: Expect to see Davies playing top 4 minutes in Milwaukee likely alongside either Allard or Alexandre Carrier. Given the short term remaining on both the Hamhuis and Irwin contracts, Davies could be in line for a regular roster spot in 2020.
NHL Comparable: Roman Josi
Check back in after training camp where we will reset the projections and make some predictions!
Thanks for reading!
Statistics courtesy of theahl.com and eliteprospects.com