The Predators have three drafted prospects from 2018 and 2019 currently playing some valuable, formative minutes in collegiate hockey: Jachym Kondelik at UConn, Spencer Stastney at Notre Dame, and Marc Del Gaizo at UMass.
Kondelik and Stastney, Nashville’s picks from 2018, are putting together solid seasons and can be realistically expected to sign Entry-Level Contracts with the Preds once their respective college seasons are finished after this year. Del Gaizo is the lone Preds’ pick from this year’s draft, but will likely elect to play a junior season with the Minutemen after having already missed several games this season recovering from a shoulder injury.
Let’s take a look at all three of these potential Predators’ stats so far this year in the NCAA.
Sophomore forward Jachym Kondelik currently leads the UConn Huskies in goals (5) and is tied with senior Ben Freeman in total points (10). He holds the second-highest shooting percentage on the team (.152), has the most blocks (14) from a non-defenseman, the second-most total shots on goal (33), and is the only Husky to have scored a short-handed goal so far this season. Despite a rough month of play in November, the Czech Republic native is hitting a rebound. In the Huskies’ last three games, Kondelik has a goal and three assists with 15 shots on goal. The downside is that UConn is not a very good team this year; they’re sitting ninth out of 11 teams in the Hockey East conference with a 2-4-2 record. Without a cast of elite supporting players, Kondelik is more than pulling his weight this season.
During the 2015-2016 season, Kondelik scored 69 points in just 44 games for the Motor Ceske Budejovice junior hockey club in his hometown. Kondelik spent two seasons in the USHL with the Muskegon Lumberjacks before arriving in Storrs. After posting 49 points over 87 games in Muskegon, the Preds drafted him 111th overall in the 2018 NHL Draft. Kondelik will generate a strong presence when he suits up for Milwaukee next season.
Spencer Stastney, a sophomore, is Notre Dame’s highest-scoring defenseman so far this season. Eight points in 14 games doesn’t seem like a lot, and Stastney is having some trouble creating offense for himself this year with only 10 total shots on goal. However, Stastney is accompanying his average scoring stats with a +5 on-ice rating- the fourth-highest on the team. Fortunately for Stastney, he’s a key part of a Notre Dame team that is tied with Ohio State for second overall in the Big Ten .
Stastney, a product of the U.S. National Team Development Program, was selected 131st overall by the Predators in the 2018 draft largely due to his performance in the 2017-2018 season. Combining his stats from the USNTDP Juniors, U18 team, and World Junior Championship team, Stastney posted 48 points and a +25 rating in 87 total games. The issue is that just four of Stastney’s 48 points that year came from goals. Both his seasons with the Fighting Irish haven’t seen much improvement on that end, either, with just three goals in 53 collegiate games.
Luckily for the Preds, Stastney can return to South Bend next year and even the year after that without losing his rights. For Stastney, this means he can get one or two extra seasons of collegiate reps without being forced to make the decision to turn pro at the risk of losing his draft selection. As a prospect of an NHL team that relies heavily on offensive defensemen to generate points, Stastney should take his time to improve his forecheck.
Marc Del Gaizo
As Cale Makar’s former left defensive pair-mate, Marc Del Gaizo got to skate alongside top-end NHL talent in just his freshman year at UMass- and it showed. Del Gaizo notched 29 points in 40 games with a massive +31 on-ice rating for the 2018-2019 Minutemen. Del Gaizo underwent shoulder surgery during the offseason, which caused him to miss the first six games of this season. He’s only played in two games since returning, but already has an assist under his belt.
Del Gaizo spent two seasons with Muskegon in the USHL before coming to Amherst, where he made quite an impression. In 117 games with the Lumberjacks, Del Gaizo tallied 61 points and a +10 on-ice rating, while also recording five points in seven playoff games with the team. Del Gaizo’s late birthday (Oct. 11) made him ineligible for the 2018 NHL Draft, but the Preds were nonetheless able to nab him at #109 overall this year.
Del Gaizo’s size (5’9, 170 lbs) is well under average for NHL defensemen. He can’t exactly add height, but adding weight and physicality should be a priority for Del Gaizo this season. Additionally, playing in the uber-competitive Hockey East conference is only going to serve him well. If Del Gaizo can put together as thunderous a season as he did last year, he could very well skip his last two years of NCAA eligibility to turn pro.