Before we start our CHL top prospects coverage, we thought we would give you an introduction to some of the Nashville Predators prospects we’re looking forward to seeing in the system.
Austin Watson – Center- 1st Round pick in 2010. Watson was projected to potentially challenge for a roster spot with the Predators before the lockout. The 6’3” Ann Arbor, Michigan native is your prototypical ‘Predator’ player. He is a solid 2-way center that can play any forward position, but his size gives him the potential to play the role of shut-down center against the league’s best forwards when he peaks. Despite being named OHL playoff MVP last year, his offensive skills likely won’t be eye-opening when he eventually makes the roster. Think of fellow Michigander David Legwand when he gets the call up to wear Predators gold.
Zach Budish – Right Wing- 2nd Round Pick in 2009. It was no mistake the Predators drafted the Minnesota Golden Gopher back in ’09 as he provides the size the team has often lacked to compete with teams come playoff time. That’s one thing you won’t have to question with him. At 6’3” 223lbs, he can compete with anyone in the corners and is hard to get off the puck once he gets it. Health has been a question mark with him as he has suffered two knee injuries in non-hockey related incidents. So far, he has shown the propensity to come back from these injuries in a big way, posting 25 points in 28 games for Minnesota. Expect him to be a Colin Wilson-type with more size.
Charles-Olivier Roussel – 2nd Round Pick in 2009. One pick after the Preds drafted a power-forward like Budish, they decided to go defense with Roussel. The Quebec native has average size at 6’1”, but brings all the tools to play any role that is asked of him. As a 17-year old, he averaged nearly a point per game with 18 points in 21 playoff games for Shawinigan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). Last year he helped the Saint-John Sea Dogs have the QMJHL’s best record during the season while posting 40 points in 58 games. His defensive responsibilities were not taken for granted as he was also a +48. Look for him to be a similar talent to fellow 2nd round pick, Kevin Klein.
Pontus Åberg – Left Wing- 2nd Round Pick in 2012. The smallish Swede (5’11” 187lbs) has great speed and elite offensive skills, but needs to improve his strength at the next level. Last season at the age of 18, he was one of four finalists for Rookie of the Year in the Swedish Elite League. He also skated with Djurgardens Under-20 team last year posting 5 goals in just 7 games. Don’t expect him to be in a Predators uniform for a while yet, but you will see his name during next year’s training camp and will be sure to turn a few heads.
*All images courtesy of predators.nhl.com*