Given the offensive struggles of the Predators nearly half-way through this shortened 2013 season, there is little doubt the club needs to find a dynamic offensive weapon. If the Preds don’t make a splash with a mega-trade, that missing aspect of the team will have to come from the draft.
Last season, the Preds took forwards with their first 5 draft picks and haven’t taken a defenseman in the first two rounds since taking Ryan Ellis and Charles-Olivier Roussel with two of their top three picks in 2009. Though none of their picks since 2010 have made it to the parent club, they have laid the groundwork to boost their offense in the near future. Barring a trade, this will be the highest selection the Preds have owned since picking Austin Watson 18th in 2010.
There is still lots to be determined with slightly more than half the season remaining, but some prospects that should be available for the Preds in the 1st round are as follows:
Ryan Hartman – RW – West Dundee, IL USA – Hartman helped lead the US U-18 National team to a gold medal in the 2012 IIHF World Championship with 2 goals and 4 assists in 6 games to go along with 22 PIM. The 5’11” 180 lb is listed as a winger, but can play any forward position and loves utilizing his speed on the forecheck to lay the lumber to opponents. His work ethic would fit in well with the Predators style of play.
Max Domi – C – London Knights – If the last name looks familiar, it should— father Tie Domi racked up in excess of 3500 PIM over 18 NHL seasons. Max has quite a bit more offensive flair than his dad, racking up 78 points in just 58 games for the Knights of the OHL. Don’t let his smallish frame of 5’10” 184 lbs fool you. He has been taught a thing or two about getting physical, accumulating 59 PIM as well.
Adam Erne – RW – Quebec Remparts – Erne has picked up similar numbers to Domi with 67 points in 62 games for Quebec, with 54 PIM to boot. The New Haven, CT native has a bit more size that the Preds could use up front at 6’0″ 205 lbs with room to grow. He plays a good two-way game, also a main staple Nashville would like to see.
Valentin Zykov – RW – Baie-Comeau Drakkar – This Russian offers great size (6’1″ 215 lbs) to go along with his potent offensive touch. He has totaled 71 points in 61 games while still playing with an edge, amassing 56 PIM. Before you draw comparisons to former Predator Alexander Radulov, Zykov plays both ways and is defensively responsible, as is noticed by his +25 rating.
No matter how the Preds draft, it always seems like they have more defensemen than forwards ready to make the jump to the pros. Although GM David Poile prefers to draft the ‘best player available’, the glaring need for offense can only be covered up for so long. Look for another push by Nashville to pick potential scoring threats in the early rounds.