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Fiala, Vesey Among Predators Top Five Prospects

by Robby Stanley / Nashville Predators

A prospect pool that wasn't very deep three years ago has become a luxury for the Nashville Predators.

Long known for talent on defense, the Predators changed their approach in recent years and stockpiled prospects at forward. Some of that young talent, led by forward Kevin Fiala, might get a chance to make an impact in the NHL as soon as this season.

Here is a look at the Predators top five prospects, according to NHL.com:

1. Kevin Fiala, LW

How acquired: 1st round (No. 11), 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Predators: 1 GP, 0-0-0; HV71 Jonkoping, Swedish Hockey League: 20 GP, 5-9-14; Milwaukee, AHL: 33 GP, 11-9-20

Fiala (5-foot-10, 180 pounds) may not be the biggest player, but the offensive skill is there. The 19-year-old has the potential to be a dynamic forward for the Predators and could make the roster out of training camp.

After making his NHL debut March 24, Fiala got his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs last season in Game 4 of the Western Conference First Round series against the Chicago Blackhawks. He's been in Nashville all summer working on building strength and said playing against Chicago showed him what it takes to be successful.

"It was a really nice experience," Fiala said. "I'm very happy that I could play the two games. I saw how the level is, especially against Chicago. They were so good, so I know now where the level is and I'm working hard for that."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

2. Jimmy Vesey, LW

How acquired: 3rd round (No. 66), 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: Harvard, ECAC: 37 GP, 32-26-58

Vesey (6-foot-1, 194) led NCAA Division 1 with 32 goals and was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top U.S. college player. The 22-year-old forward had a breakout junior season, and the Predators feel he is ready to play in the NHL.

Despite having a chance to join the Predators for the 2015 playoffs, Vesey opted to stay at Harvard and finish his degree. He can join the Predators after Harvard's season ends.

"I have a great relationship [with the Predators], and I think I'm a very loyal person," Vesey said. "At the end of the season, if the opportunity is right, I'd like to sign with Nashville."

Projected NHL arrival: 2015-16

3. Juuse Saros, G

How acquired: 4th round (No. 99), 2013 NHL Draft

Last season: HPK Hameenlinna, Liiga, Finnish Elite League: 47 GP, 13-18-6, 2.14 GAA, .929 save percentage

Saros (5-foot-10, 178) is expected to make his professional debut with Milwaukee in the American Hockey League this season. Predators general manager David Poile traded goaltender Magnus Hellberg to the New York Rangers to make room in Milwaukee for Saros, 20, who was the backup goaltender behind Pekka Rinne for Finland at the 2015 IIHF World Championship.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

4. Viktor Arvidsson, LW

How acquired: 4th round (No. 112), 2014 NHL Draft

Last season: Predators: 6 GP, 0-0-0; Milwaukee, AHL: 70 GP, 22-33-55

Arvidsson (5-foot-9, 172) is similar to Fiala in that he isn't big but does have a lot of speed and skill. The 22-year-old forward led Milwaukee with 55 points in his first pro season and had 272 shots on goal.

Arvidsson likely will see some time in the NHL this season, but the Predators can take their time developing him thanks to their depth at forward.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

5. Colton Sissons, C

How acquired: 2nd round (No. 50), 2012 NHL Draft

Last season: Milwaukee, AHL: 76 GP, 25-17-42

Sissons (6-foot-1, 187) is a two-way center who the Predators have compared to Mike Fisher. The 21-year-old centered the top line in Milwaukee and had more than 40 points for a second straight season. Nashville's pipeline at center seems to be too crowded for Sissons to earn a roster spot out of training camp, but he has skills that translate to the NHL.

Projected NHL arrival: 2016-17

Author: Robby Stanley | NHL.com Correspondent

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