The Nashville Predators’ prospects put on quite a show for the crowd at Bridgestone Arena on Friday night. The gold team won 7-4, but the real winners were the fans. A glimpse into the future of the organization appears promising, and Friday’s game provided the Preds front office a little reassurance that they are really nailing this whole draft thing.
I would love to do a player-by-player breakdown, but that would be fairly time consuming, so I’ll just highlight my top five. Here are the five players that stood out the most during the Preds development camp and future stars game.
Kelleher appears to have picked up right where he left off at the University of New Hampshire where he scored 24 goals, 63 points and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist. His handful of games in Milwaukee to end the season didn’t exactly leave much to be desired, but after a solid development camp and a ridiculous showing at the future stars game – two goals, one assist – Kelleher appears in good shape to earn a contract with the Nashville Predators (he’s currently contracted with the Milwaukee Admirals).
He is undersized at 5-6, but he has often said that Viktor Arvidsson is a player he looks up to and tried to model his game after. The way he played in Friday’s game, you could never tell he was the smallest player on the ice. He has the quickness and puck-handling skills to be a dynamic goal scorer. He can stop on the drop of a dime and he really uses his ice awareness to fool defenders. He is someone to look out for this season as he could – and should – earn a contract with Nashville and follow in the footsteps of Freddy Gaudreau.
I was somewhat skeptical when the Preds drafted him – which I’m still not convinced wasn’t a ploy to entice Jimmy Vesey to sign with Nashville – but I am becoming a fan. He has slick skating and some pretty underrated puck handling. Moy appears to have packed on a little muscle since last season and tore it up at Harvard this year.
He got a little taste of Milwaukee to end the season, but he looks primed for a solid year with the Admirals. Moy was one of the veterans at development camp this year, something he attributed to letting him relax and feel more at ease.
“It’s valuable experience just to be able to get my feet wet, play a different style of game, get to know the guys and the staff and get to be a part of a new system,” Moy said. “So, coming in here I’m a little more comfortable knowing the guys and trying to be a leader in development camp.”
The 2017 first-round pick had an absolute snipe in the first half of the future stars game, beating Ettiene Marcoux and making all fans in attendance salivate as a result. He added an assist in the second half on an Anthony Richard goal and looked very impressive this week. The Vladimir Tarasenko comparisons may not be too far off. How this kid fell to 30th overall is a mystery, but man, Nashville may have themselves the steal of the draft.
“It was kind of tough but it was fun,” Tolvanen said. “There’s a great group of guys and they were fun to be around. Like I said, it was just a long week, but it taught me a lot. It’s just a nice feeling getting to play on an NHL rink.”
Tolvanen could do some serious damage down in Milwaukee. A year of Tolvanen and Vladislav Kamenev could be absolutely lethal for the Admirals. Although Paul McCann announced Tolvanen would play for Jokerit this upcoming season, the 5-foot-10 Finn said nothing is set in stone quite yet.
“No, I haven’t made any decisions yet,” Tolvanen said. “It’s open still as to where I’m going to play next year.”
Fabbro got a late start to development camp this year due to finishing some late classes at BU. However, once he joined his fellow prospects, Fabbro stood out. He scored some pretty impressive goals during practice and he appears to have improved mightily since the Preds drafted him in the first round last year.
“I feel good,” Fabbro said. “(Last year) I came straight from the draft and didn’t know anybody. It’s definitely nice to come back and know a few faces. It was an awesome experience.”
He still needs a little work to refine his defensive game, but he appears to be coming along quite nicely. He is seemingly more comfortable his second time around. This time next year, we could be talking about Fabbro as the organization’s top prospect.
“Coming here, you want to learn as much as you can,” Fabbro said. “It’s not just from the coaching staff, but the players around you as well. I was only here two days, but I learned a lot and I obviously want to bring the things I learned to my game.”
Stop me if you’ve heard this before: the Nashville Predators drafted a smooth-skating defenseman who can score. During Friday’s future stars game, Farrance scored not once, but twice. He was all over the ice and displayed many similar characteristics to Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis.
Farrance showed that he is comfortable skating with the puck on his stick and – when given the chance – can rifle one past the goaltender. It was a little surprising that he fell to the third round, but he looks like he could have been a steal there. He will play next season at BU with fellow Preds’ prospects Dante Fabbro and Patrick Harper. Fabbro and Farrance could potentially be line-mates, which could work out perfectly for Nashville.