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Predators address organizational depth

by Dan Rosen

OTTAWA – Heading into the draft Nashville Predators GM David Poile felt the team’s organizational strength was on back end with a bevy of high-level defensemen.

After the draft, in which the Predators selected the first goalie and a high-end and physical collegiate centerman, Poile believes the depth is even throughout the organization.

“What we have done in the draft this year was get the first goalie taken in the draft and we added Colin Wilson to our forward position, and we needed a high-end forward,” Poile told “Right now I’d stack our prospects up against anybody else’s.”

Hours prior to the draft the Predators solidified their goaltending situation by locking up goalie Dan Ellis to a multi-year contract after trading Chris Mason to St. Louis. They made another move early in the draft with the Islanders so they could move up two spots from No. 9 to No. 7 to nab Wilson, the power forward out of Boston University. The Predators had to give up their second-round pick to make the trade work.

They landed goalie Chet Pickard, who Poile believes could play on Team Canada’s entry into the 2009 World Junior Championship, after swapping first-round picks with Ottawa and securing a third-rounder in 2009. The Predators moved down from 15 to 18, but still got the goalie they wanted.

“We think our scouts have done a good job and the cupboard is pretty full,” Poile said. “We’re starting to develop some good depth as we move forward.”

Here is a look at Nashville’s 2008 NHL Entry Draft class:
No. 7 Colin Wilson, C, Boston University (H-East) – Wilson is the power forward that Poile felt the Predators have been missing. He’s the 10th ranked North American skater by the NHL’s Central Scouting Department and he has NHL bloodlines. His dad, Carey, played 12 seasons in the League and his grandfather Gerry had a brief stint playing for the Montreal Canadiens.

Wilson was the Hockey East Rookie of the Year after posing 35 points in 37 games for the Terriers this past season. He had six goals and seven points for Team USA’s entry into the 2008 World Junior Championship.

No. 18 Chet Pickard, G, Tri-City (WHL)
– Pickard was the first goalie selected in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. Central Scouting had him as the second-rated North American goaltending prospect.

The 6-foot-2 netminder went 11-3-2 with a 1.78 GAA and a .937 save percentage in the WHL playoffs. He won the Del Wilson Trophy as the League’s Goaltender of the Year, finishing with a 46-12-2-2 record and a .918 save percentage.

No. 38 Roman Josi, D, Bern (Swiss)
– Poile said the Preds’ staff was surprised Josi was still around at No. 38. Josi, the sixth-ranked European skater, played for Team Switzerland in both the 2008 World Junior Championships and the Under-18 IIHF World Championships.

No. 136 Taylor Stefishen, LW, Langley (BCHL)
– The 84th-ranked North American skater patterns his game after Chris Drury and Mike Richards “because they are hard-working players who do a bit of everything,” he said. He had 81 points in 57 games for Langley this past season and is headed to Ohio State.

No. 166 Jeffrey Foss, D, RPI (ECAC) – A 6-foot-2 blueliner from North Dakota, Foss played in all 38 games as a freshman for RPI and had a goal and three assists as well as 28 penalty minutes.

No. 201 Jani Lajunen, C, Espoo Blues Jr. (Finland-Jr.) – No. 49 among European skaters according to Central Scouting, Lajunen had 14 points in 25 games playing in Finland last year.

No. 207 Anders Lindback, G, Brynas (Sweden)
– The third among five European goalies ranked by Central Scouting, Lindback is a prospect out of the Swedish Elite League.

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