While the Predators are in the middle of the playoff picture in the Western Conference and looking to earn a pick well outside the top-10, thanks to last summer's trade with the Florida Panthers, the Predators are likely to have a selection inside the top-10. Heading into tonight's games, the pick from Florida would have the Preds in the seventh slot in the draft, pending draft lottery results (see here for more on the draft lottery
).The Hockey News
projects five forwards and five defensemen in its top-10 with no goaltenders. Most pundits and scouts view this as a down draft for goaltending prospects, with a legitimate possibility that none could end up being selected in the first round. Eight of THN's top-10 play in the Canadian Juniors, with one in NCAA and one in Europe. Eight of its top-10 are North Americans with just two Europeans projecting in the top-10.
With all that in mind, here's THN's projected top-10 as well as the publication's comments about the future draftees.
1) Steven Stamkos
– Sarnia Sting (OHL), C, 6-1, 180
The consensus No. 1 pick for well over a year … Elite skill level; inventive player … Gritty in defensive zone … OHL's reigning scholastic player of the year.
2) Drew Doughty
– Guelph (OHL), D, 6-0, 213
Named top defenseman at world juniors despite injuries … A two-way workhorse. SCOUT SAYS "The hockey gods gave him a great mind for the game. He relies on that and does a phenomenal job reading and reacting.
3) Alex Pietrangelo
– Niagara (OHL), D, 6-4, 210
Boasts more untapped upside than any of the top defensemen … Relative of former NHL goalie Frank … Plus-minus has been fantastic past two seasons. SCOUT SAYS "He's such a steadying influence. He's totally in control."
4) Nikita Filatov
– CSKA Moscow (Rus-2), LW, 6-0, 170
Explodes every time he hits the international stage … Top-five pick on offensive ability alone, but transfer agreement issue will hurt his stock. SCOUT SAYS "Alexei Cherepanov was skilled, but everybody was worried about his work ethic. This guy's more talented and he plays real hard, too."
5) Zach Bogosian
– Peterborough (OHL), D, 6-2, 202
Overlooked for US world junior team … Assistant captain leads the Petes in scoring as a blueliner … Still learning defensively. SCOUT SAYS "He's a big, strong, strapping kid who can really skate."
6) Kyle Beach
– Everett (WHL), C, 6-3, 203
Among WHL leaders in goals and penalty minutes … Concerns about his attitude could be enough to keep him out of top five. SCOUT SAYS "He can score, fight and agitate – a power forward on projection."
7) Luke Schenn
– Kelowna (WHL), D, 6-3, 209
Clocked a 94 mile-per-hour slapshot at CHL skills competition … A shutdown blueliner whom scouts compare to Adam Foote. SCOUT SAYS "He's a warhorse. He stands up, forces the play and blocks shots."
8) Tyler Myers
– Kelowna (WHL), D, 6-7, 204
Teammate of Luke Schenn … Has quietly ascended into the top-10 range. SCOUT SAYS "Chara bumbled around in junior, but this kid's feet are fine. He can move the puck and it's hard to beat him with his massive wingspan."
9) Mikkel Boedker
– Kitchener (OHL), RW, 5-11, 201
Raised his standing with strong world juniors … Only CHL player on Team Denmark … Plays point on power play for juggernaut team in Kitchener. SCOUT SAYS "He's got speed to burn and he can shoot the puck a ton."
10) Colin Wilson
– Boston University (NCAA), C, 6-1, 205
Dad, Carey, and grandfather, Jerry, both played in the NHL … Led world juniors in goals with six for US team … Skating is only concern. SCOUT SAYS "He combines power and skill. He can play any type of game you want."
Another early draft preview publication, The Redline Report, as posted on USA Today
's website, lists the top-10 as: No. 1 Stamkos, No. 2 Filatov, No. 3 Doughty, No. 4Bogosian, No. 5 Pieterangelo, No. 6 Schenn, No. 7 Boedker, No. 8 Beach, No. 9 Wilson, and No. 10 Cody Hodgson (Brampton, OHL, C, 5-11, 182).
According to NHL's Central Scouting Service's mid-season rankings, the North American skater's top-10 is as follows: Stamkos, Doughty, Bogosian, Beach, Pieterangelo, Myers, Schenn, Colby Robak (Brandon, WHL, D, 6-3, 202), Wilson, and Hodgson. Filatov is the No. 1 International skater, followed by Russian Evegeny Grachev (Yaroslavl, RUS-2, C, 6-3, 202) and Swede Mattias Tedenby (HV 71, SWE-Jr, W, 5-11, 176).
International Scouting Services' 2008 top-10 looks like: Stamkos, Filatov, Doughty, Hodgson, Pieterangelo, Beach, Bogosian, Schenn, Wilson, and Boedker.
With five defensemen on the NHL roster already 25-or-younger and an additional two d-man prospects ranked among The Hockey News
' top-50 prospects, it's likely the Predators would prefer to add a talented forward to the organization's stable. However, David Poile and Co. have long espoused the idea of drafting the best player available. Or, depending on where the Predators end up slotted with both their own and Florida's picks, the team may opt to trade up (or even slide back to add more picks).