With the NHL trade deadline coming and going, it is time to break down the organizational depth of the Nashville Predators prospects. Having lost Samuel Girard and Vladislav Kamenev in November in the Kyle Turris trade, the top five took a big hit. Eeli Tolvanen, who we had ranked at No. 3 in the preseason, was the largest climber, shooting to the top of not just the Predators prospect list, but the NHL prospect list.
Dante Fabbro has had a solid year, and if not for Tolvanen, would be Nashville’s most prized prospect. Alex Carrier, who had high expectations entering the year has tapered off a bit, while others such as Patrick harper and Emil Pettersson have turned in solid seasons and shown promise for potential futures in the NHL.
Here are our Top 10 Nashville Predators prospects:
1 – Eeli Tolvanen, RW (Jokerit, KHL)
2 – Dante Fabbro, D (Boston University, NCAA)
3 – Alex Carrier, D (Milwaukee, AHL)
4 – Patrick Harper, C (Boston University, NCAA)
5 – Yakov Trenin, C (Milwaukee, AHL)
6 – Grant Mismash, LW (North Dakota, NCAA)
7 – Emil Pettersson, C (Milwaukee, AHL)
8 – Tyler Moy, LW (Milwaukee, AHL)
9 – Rem Pitlick, C (U Minnesota, NCAA)
10 – Thomas Novak, C (U Minnesota, NCAA)
Positional strength: defense
With two of the top three organizational prospects being defensemen in Fabbro and Carrier, the defensive pipeline is in good shape. Several defenders were just outside of our top 10, including Frederic Allard, Jack Dougherty, David Farrance and Joonas Lyytinen.
— BU Men's Hockey (@TerrierHockey) February 24, 2018
Farrance hasn’t quite had the freshman year many were expecting from him at BU, but he is learning from top NCAA defensemen like Fabbro and Chad Krys. Boston has been using him on the wing, so it will be interesting to see if the position switch sticks.
Jumping from the juniors to the AHL, Allard’s offensive numbers have taken a dip. He’s played in only half as many games as he did last year, and his +/- could see some improvement, but he has looked fine in his first year in Milwaukee.
Dougherty has been developing steadily. He won’t ever wow anyone offensively, but he is becoming the prototypical stay-at-home defenseman. It’ll be interesting to see what he does in the near future with Fabbro and Carrier ahead of him, blocking his ascent up the ladder.
Position that needs improvement: wing
With the exception of top prospect Eeli Tolvanen and Tyler Moy, who switched from center, Nashville doesn’t have many bona fide prospects on the wing. Grant Mismash is a natural center, but the Preds website has him listed as a left wing. Anthony Richard had NHL speed, but still has a long way to go in his development, while Justin Kirkland is still a very raw prospect.
Position with most depth: center
Last week I asked Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller about which US college hockey players he thinks will become NHLers…here's his response pic.twitter.com/il8RyaRdao
— Salim Nadim Valji (@salimvalji) February 21, 2018
With Patrick Harper, Yakov Trenin, Emil Pettersson, Rem Pitlick and Thomas Novak, half of the prospects in the top 10 play at center ice. Unfortunately, aside from perhaps Harper, none of them have really shown top-six potential. However, there should be plenty of — at worst — third and fourth-line centers in this group. Pettersson is one to keep an eye on, as his breakout season has many wondering if he could warrant a call up in the near future.
Breakout prospect: Eeli Tolvanen
Given his eye-catching play during the Olympics, it’s a forgone conclusion that Tolvanen will join the Preds for a playoff run once Jokerit concludes its own playoff run. Predators assistant GM Paul Fenton has already said Nashville will have a contract waiting for Tolvanen once he is ready to come over. Jokerit begins the playoffs on Saturday, and depending on how far they advance, Tolvanen could find himself with an NHL contract any time in the next month or two.
Most improved: Dante Fabbro
(Fabbro goals at 0:19, 1:07, 2:15)
Fabbro had an underwhelming freshman season last year at BU. This season, he has thrived as the top defenseman for BU while seeing a jump in his offensive numbers. His defensive mechanics have always been sound, but he appears to have really learned how to play a strong two-way game this year. The Preds’ brass has said over and over that they will let Fabbro decide when he is ready to sign with Nashville.
Most disappointing: Alex Carrier
After a late-season call up last year and an appearance in the AHL All-Star game, the expectations were sky-high for Carrier in 2017. During training camp, it was even discussed whether or not he could be an injury fill-in while Ryan Ellis was out. His numbers are not as impressive as last season; however, many scouts will tell you it is not the first year, but the second year that can be hardest on young players in a new system. However, Carrier is only 21 and with the top four Nashville has, there is no rush for Carrier to make it to the big club.
Most underrated: Rem Pitlick
— Minnesota M Hockey (@GopherHockey) February 11, 2018
If you have not seen Rem Pitlick play, do yourself a favor and Google him. He is the leading scorer for the University of Minnesota and he is the Gophers’ second-leading goal scorer. He is only 5-foot-10, but he is one of the top scorers in the NCAA. He is a high-energy player and is not afraid to stick his nose in on a play. Having watched him at development camp two years ago, he definitely fits the mold of a Viktor Arvidsson-type player.
Keep an eye on: Emil Pettersson
⭐️Anders Lindback & Emil Pettersson will be representing the Admirals at the 2018 All Star Game ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/97qX1QPnX0
— Milwaukee Admirals (@mkeadmirals) January 4, 2018
Pettersson is one of those under-the-radar prospects that is having a breakout season that no one saw coming. He is a little older than most prospects at 24-years-old, but he is tied with Bobby Butler for the team lead in scoring for the Milwaukee Admirals (34 points). It’s still early to project what exactly Pettersson can be at the NHL level, but he is someone to watch in the future.
All stats up to date as of March 1, 2018