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2015 Predators Rookie Tournament Preview

by Thomas Willis / Nashville Predators

Last year, the Nashville Predators celebrated the grand opening of Ford Ice Center by hosting the 2014 Rookie Tournament and some of the NHL’s brightest young stars. Names like Filip Forsberg, Kevin Fiala, Aaron Ekblad and Jonathan Drouin showed flashes of future brilliance coming later that fall at the NHL level at the twin-rink facility in Antioch, Tennessee, last September.

Beginning on Thursday, a new crop of prospects and rookie camp invites will embark on their own journeys to prove they deserve a chance at hockey’s highest level. For the Predators 24 participants in Rookie Camp and subsequent Tournament, the group will first take to the ice at Centennial Sportsplex on Sept. 10 prior to traveling to Estero, Florida, and a three-game set versus prospect teams from the Tampa Bay Lightning, Florida Panthers and Washington Capitals (a newcomer this year).

“I got some experience last year, and it feels good to get started again for the season,” Preds forward Viktor Arvidsson, who participated in last season’s tournament, said. “It’s given me a lot of confidence and I’m excited to get going.”

Will one of the two dozen Preds Rookie Tournament players have the same impact on Nashville’s season as Forsberg did just a few months ago? It’s certainly not outside the realm of possibility, and we’ve compiled a short list of who to keep your eye on over the next week.

A complete tournament schedule for the Preds is available below, with all three games tentatively set to be live streamed on via the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Nashville Predators:

The Preds will again invite 24 players to their Rookie Camp, featuring a pair of skaters that logged minutes in the NHL with Nashville in 2014-15. Fiala and Arvidsson were two of the seven 2014 NHL Draft selections to play in the NHL last season and both wingers are hoping to qualify for the Predators Opening Night roster at the team’s training camp starting next week.

Thirteen forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders will be guided behind the bench by Milwaukee Admirals Head Coach Dean Evason and Assistant Coach Stan Drulia.

Player to Watch: (F) Vladislav Kamenev

The 6-foot-2 Russian forward will be making his transition to North America and the Admirals later this fall and is still on target to be one of the Predators top-two centers of the future. The 2014 second-round selection battled injury at times last season, but his size and passing ability have stood out in recent weeks during the Preds informal skates at Centennial.

Honorable Mentions: (F) Kevin Fiala, (F) Viktor Arvidsson and (G) Juuse Saros

Florida Panthers:

The Panthers were the only undefeated team at last year’s Rookie Tournament, going 3-0-0 and winning the trio of contests by two-or-more goals. For the 2015 edition of their rookie team, Florida will bring 26 skaters to Estero and Germain Arena, including 15 forwards, eight blueliners and three netminders.

All of the Panthers players are waiting to log their first minutes in the NHL, including Florida’s first-round pick, 11th overall at the 2015 Draft, 18-year-old forward Lawson Crouse. The 6-foot-4 winger put up 51 points in 56 games in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) for the Kingston Frontenacs in 2014-15.

Player to Watch: (G) Sam Brittain

A 2010 fourth-round pick, Brittain was one of the stars in net at last year’s Rookie Tournament in Tennessee. He spent parts of last season in both the ECHL and American Hockey League (AHL), recording a .943 save percentage in seven games with the San Antonio Rampage. Considering last season’s rash of injury between the Floridian pipes, Brittain has - at least an outside shot - of notching his first minutes in the NHL in 2015-16.

Honorable Mentions: (D) Michael Matheson, (F) Lawson Crouse

Tampa Bay Lightning:

The host of the 2015 Rookie Tournament, the Lightning will ice a 23-man roster for their three-game set. Thirteen forwards, eight defensemen and two goalies will make up the 2015 Eastern Conference Champion’s rookie roster, featuring 2012 first-round pick Slater Koekkoek, who skated in three NHL games for Tampa Bay in 2014-15.

After going 1-1-1 at Ford Ice Center in 2014, the Lightning will look to a roster that boasts 22 original draft selections to try and claim the tournament’s top spot.

Player to Watch: (F) Adam Erne

A prolific scorer in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), the 2013 NHL Draft pick possesses a quick first step and at 6-foot-1, 210 pounds, enough size and strength to muscle his way to the cage. The Lightning are expecting big things from the 20-year-old in 2015-16, but whether the forward can crack the Tampa Bay lineup remains to be seen

Honorable Mentions: (D) Slater Koekkoek, (G) Kristers Gudlevskis, (D) Dominik Masin

Washington Capitals:

Replacing the Boston Bruins from last year’s Rookie Tournament, the Capitals will bring 23 players to Florida. Left wing Liam O’Brien, who suited up for 13 games with the Washington Capitals in 2014-15 and notched his first career NHL goal, leads the collection of 13 forwards, eight d-men and two goalies. The Caps will feature 10 free-agent acquisitions and 13 original draft picks, including two 2015 NHL Draft selections.

Player to Watch: (F) Jakub Vrana

A first-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, the winger notched three points while skating for the Czech Republic at the 2015 IIHF World Championship. With quick hands and a fluid skating motion, Vrana has the skill to lead the Capitals in points during their time in Estero. The 18-year-old will try to translate his success on the international stage beginning with the three-game stint at the 2015 Rookie Tournament.

Honorable Mentions: (D) Madison Bowey, (D) Christian Djoos

Predators 2015 Rookie Camp and Tournament Schedule:

Full Predators Rookie Camp schedule is as follows and a roster is attached (all times Central):

Thursday, Sept. 10
Time: Event: Location:
1:00 p.m. Practice Centennial Sportsplex
Friday, Sept. 11
Time: Event: Location:
10:00 a.m. Practice Centennial Sportsplex
Saturday, Sept. 12
Time: Event: Location:
6:00 p.m. Game vs. Tampa Bay Prospects Germain Arena
Sunday, Sept. 13
Time: Event: Location:
2:00 p.m. Game vs. Florida Prospects Germain Arena
Monday, Sept. 14
Off-ice sessions
Tuesday, Sept. 15
Time: Event: Location:
9:00 a.m. Game vs. Washington Prospects Germain Arena


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