Welcome back to The Leap!
The Leap is a new series at PBR that follows 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 other media outlets 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 have a real shot at making the NHL roster either this season or next and will carry some intrigue about what their ceiling could be.
In Episode 2 we look back on rookie camp, training camp and the preseason plus a look ahead to what the season might hold in store.
Note: Statistics were not available for Prospect Showcase games
C/LW Anthony Richard
’19-20 Statistics: 10 GP, 3G, 1A, 4P, 28 SOG, 10.7 SH% (Milwaukee Admirals)
Anthony Richard put together a strong preseason where he really showed his overall growth as a player. As expected, through rookie camp he looked like the comparative veteran as he played faster and more purposeful than most of the competition. Moving into training camp, Richard certainly looked every bit an NHL capable player and most importantly showed growth in his game beyond speed and goal scoring. The Preds coaching staff gave Richard multiple opportunities on the penalty kill and he looked excellent. Richard’s quickness on his skates gave him the ability to almost cover both point spots at once.
If Richard can continue to grow his capability as a special teams player it makes him that much more valuable to the organization. To cap off his training camp, Richard scored the game tying goal in the final preseason game against the Carolina Hurricanes on a pretty backhand move. While Richard was assigned to the AHL Milwaukee Admirals for the start of the season, he certainly showed that he is ready for an NHL role in the near future. His speed is a game changing element and his game continues to round out to reveal a complete player.
Updated Projection: Richard has played big minutes in a top line role for Milwaukee, earning a one game call-up to Nashville to face Tampa Bay. After 7 games he was tied for the team lead in shots on goal with 20 but had not seen the results yet with only one goal on the tally. He has kept up the work and added two more goals in the three games since his NHL season debut. He will continue to be a primary call-up option for the Predators when the need arises.
RW Egor Afanasyev
’19-20 Statistics: 14 GP, 6G, 8A, 14P, 39 SOG, 15.3 SH% (Windsor Spitfires)
Afanasyev came into Preds training camp with a bit of hype after a strong showing in development camp and he did not disappoint. The big winger continued to show the tantalizing combination of size and stick skills. Afanasyev showed a penchant for getting to scoring areas and an ability to get his shot off in tight areas resulting in multiple goals during the prospect showcase. In the preseason he only got into one game against the Panthers where he certainly did not look out of place. Following the game he was returned to the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL where he is off to a strong start with 14 points in 14 games playing a top line role. As Afanasyev adjusts fully to the OHL game his production should only continue to increase.
Updated Projection: From his preseason and start to his juniors career there’s no reason to back off the projection that he could challenge for an NHL spot next season. In just the past week, Afanasyev has signed his entry level contract with Nashville (not an insignificant achievement to have happen just a few months after being drafted) and has been selected to play for Team Russia in the CHL Canada-Russia Series.
Author’s note: If you are interested in following Afanasyev on a game by game basis, Jonathan Moran (@JohnathanMoran_ on Twitter) has an excellent thread providing recaps and advanced stats for every Windsor Spitfires game.
RD Frederic Allard
’19-20 Statistics: 11 GP, 0G, 4A, 4P, 15 SOG, 0.0 SH% (Milwaukee Admirals)
Allard had another good showing throughout training camp and the preseason. He looked strong on the puck and solid in the defensive zone. Allard never looked out of place alongside NHL players and even showed a little more physicality in his battles along the boards. Allard made it through the majority training camp before being assigned to Milwaukee. In the early portion of the AHL season Allard hasn’t seen the results come through offensively but he has been an absolute stalwart defensively. Assuming Allard’s usage stays up it would be fair to assume the offensive production will come but he should be looking to get more pucks going on net.
Updated Projection: Allard continues to get AHL seasoning playing big minutes in all situations and the improved defensive game only lends to his position in the pipeline as a top call up option.
LD Jeremy Davies
’19-20 Statistics: 10 GP, 1G, 3A, 4P, 17 SOG, 5.9 SH% (Milwaukee Admirals)
Davies was certainly one of the most watched prospects throughout the preseason and he did not disappoint. His skating ability with the puck and skill to make plays was evident every time he was on the ice. Similar to Allard, Davies worked through much of preseason with the Predators before being assigned to Milwaukee. He did get called back for the final preseason game where he assisted Ryan Johansen’s OT walk-off winner. Now up and running in Milwaukee he has clearly been getting more comfortable with each game, including this beauty for his first professional goal:
Through his first 10 games Davies has only 4 points but his skill level is undeniable and the production will continue to increase.
Updated Projection: As of the early season, Davies is probably 3rd or 4th in line for a call up but the experience playing significant minutes in Milwaukee will be good for his development. There is no reason to change the projection that Davies will challenge for a regular NHL spot next season and there is certainly a chance he could jump to the front of the line with continued growth.
Check back in after Christmas where we will update progress and review the predictions!
Thanks for reading!