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 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.
In Episode 3 we review the first half of the season plus a look ahead to what the stretch run might hold in store.
C/LW Anthony Richard
Drafted: 4th Round, 2015 (Nashville Predators)
’19-20 Statistics: 44 GP, 13G, 7A, 20P, 84 SOG, 15.5 SH% (Milwaukee Admirals)
After a slow start to the season with only one goal in his first seven games, Anthony Richard has shown more of his regular form with 12 goals in the following 37 games. The multitude of injuries throughout the Nashville Predators lineup has necessitated multiple call-ups which have resulted in the Admirals forward lines changing on an almost game by game basis. Additionally, with many new faces in the lineup, Richard has been slotted with more defensive players such as Mathieu Olivier. However, the results cannot be ignored as the Admirals are the best team in the AHL and look like a Calder Cup favorite. If a championship is to be won, Richard will be a key piece in whatever role he plays.
Updated Projection: Richard remains one of the better forward prospects in the Predators organization. He may have been passed up by Yakov Trenin and Colin Blackwell who seem to have caught on in Nashville, but his skill set remains NHL caliber. If the Predators decide to become sellers at the trade deadline, Richard could see himself in line for another stint with the big club.
RW Egor Afanasyev
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2019 (Nashville Predators)
’19-20 Statistics: 43 GP, 19G, 27A, 46P, 141 SOG, 13.5 SH% (Windsor Spitfires)
Egor Afanasyev has continued the strong start to his first OHL season. Just over halfway through the regular season he is tied for the team lead in scoring and tied for second in goals. He also continues to see top line usage and a heavy dose of power play time. Unfortunately, in spite of his successful run, Afanasyev was not chosen to compete with Team Russia in the World Juniors. Nonetheless the Windsor Spitfires look to be in a prime position to make a playoff run, of which Afanasyev will be a crucial part of the team’s success. Of late, he has also shown a flair for dramatic goals, like OT winner shown below which will certainly come up big in the playoffs:
Updated Projection: Afanasyev’s impressive first half certainly continues the upward trend that would point to an NHL career sooner rather than later. A strong end to the regular season and push into the playoffs will set him up nicely to turn heads at Predators camp this summer.
RD Frederic Allard
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2016 (Nashville Predators)
’19-20 Statistics: 43 GP, 2G, 14A, 16P, 68 SOG, 2.9 SH% (Milwaukee Admirals)
Frederic Allard continues to be a steadying force on the Admirals back end, playing all situations and providing a strong defensive presence. His offensive production has been overshadowed by Alex Carrier (an AHL All Star) and Matt Donovan but the combination certainly seems to be working for the dominant Admirals team. Allard remains on pace to match his offensive output and any uptick in an unsustainably low shooting percentage could push him back up into career highs. Allard will play a key role for the Admirals in the playoffs as a shutdown defenseman taking on the opposing team’s best lines.
Updated Projection: Allard could have a claim to being a call-up with all the injuries the Predators defense has endured but the strong season by the aforementioned Alex Carrier gave him first priority. That should not, however, discount Allard as being a future call-up and a competitor for a roster spot in Nashville next season.
LD Jeremy Davies
Drafted: 7th Round, 2016 (New Jersey Devils)
’19-20 Statistics: 44 GP, 2G, 15A, 17P, 78 SOG, 2.6 SH% (Milwaukee Admirals)
In his first pro season, Davies has shown flashes of skill that made him a centerpiece in the P.K. Subban trade and also the inexperience in the higher levels of competition that hold him back. Davies is 3rd among Admirals defensemen with 17 points on the season but has also registered 38 penalty minutes in 44 games. Given that Davies is not a physical player prone to getting involved in fights, it means he is taking softer penalties like hooks and slashes. That also shows that Davies is finding himself out of position too often and forced to commit the infractions. Davies’ offensive abilities will prove to be important in the AHL playoffs when the game gets tighter and the Admirals will need him to step forward and create offense down the stretch.
Updated Projection: Halfway through the regular season Davies has been behind Santini, Tinordi and Carrier in terms of call-ups and is likely behind Allard as well if the Predators were to have a need. While Davies is unlikely to see NHL action this season, his combination of skating ability and puck skill on the back end will make him a top competitor for the Predators defensive left side next season.
Check back in at the end of the season where we will wrap up and make some predictions for the offseason!
Thanks for reading!
Statistics courtesy of theahl.com, windsorspitfires.com and eliteprospects.com