Nashville, Tenn. (June 23, 2018) - The Nashville Predators made four selections - all on the second day of action - at the 2018 NHL Draft from the American Airlines Center in Dallas, taking two defensemen, one forward and one goaltender.
"It was an interesting draft in the fact that we didn't have our first two picks and then we traded our third pick," Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile said. "Everyone has to remember the reason why we are where we are is because we made some deals - for Kyle Turris and Ryan Hartman, for example - so we're really pleased with our big team. We were a little short on picks (today), but all in all I think we're going to be fine. I think our guys did as well as possible and were very organized in terms of who we thought would be available in the later rounds."
"We're very happy with what we were able to do considering what we had to work with," Predators Assistant General Manager and Director of Scouting Jeff Kealty said. "It was a different year and turned into even more of a different year not picking until the fourth round. With the way our list was going, we thought we would still get players that we liked and players that we wanted and that turned out to be the case. We were able to add on to next year, which we feel will be a really strong draft class."
Already without a selection in the first and second rounds of the Draft, Nashville traded its third-round pick to Florida in exchange for their third-round selection in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Nashville's first selection came in the fourth round, with the Preds taking forward Jachym Kondelik from Hannover, Germany and the USHL's Muskegon Lumberjacks at 111th overall. The 6-foot-6 center tallied 34 points (16g-18a) in 44 games with the Lumberjacks last season, his second in the USHL. Kondelik ranked fourth on Muskegon in goals with 16 in 2017-18, more than doubling his production from his rookie USHL season (7g-8a).
Kondelik won the Gold Medal with the Czech Republic at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and posted six points (1g-5a) in five games at the 2017 Under-18 World Championship. He is committed to play at the University of Connecticut for the 2018-19 season.
"H's a big two-way center, he's got good hands, he sees the ice well, he makes plays, protects the puck well, he's competitive and he's hard to play against," Predators North American Scout David Westby said. "He's going to Connecticut and the college route is a good route for him."
The Predators made two selections in the fifth round, taking defensemen Spencer Stastney (131st overall) and Vladislav Yeryomenko (151st overall).
Stastney, a 5-foot-10 blueliner from Woodbridge, Ill., had 28 points (2g-26a) in 57 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program last season, his second with the program. He also competed for the United States in the 2018 IIHF U-18 World Championship, where he had a goal and four assists in seven games. Stastney is committed to play at the University of Notre Dame in 2018-19.
"We viewed him as a real sleeper that not a lot of people appreciated with all the big names on the U.S. NTDP squad," Nashville North American Amateur Scout Ryan Rezmierski said. "His best hockey is ahead of him going to Notre Dame, and he's going to keep getting bigger and stronger."
Yeryomenko, a 6-foot defenseman from Mishutki, Belarus, comes from the WHL's Calgary Hitmen, where he has compiled 66 points (19g-47a) and 58 penalty minutes in 125 career games. He led all defensemen on his team in points with 41 (13g-28a) in 2017-18, a 16-point improvement from his rookie WHL campaign. Internationally, Yeryomenko represented Belarus at the 2018 World Junior Championship in Buffalo and posted a goal and three assists in six games.
"He's not electric, but he's just a sturdy guy," Predators North American Amateur Scout Glen Sanders said. "When he came back from the World Juniors, he was a different player. He was so much more confident. I think he fits what we always want - character, strength, everything we always want in a defenseman, he's there."
Video: Jeff Kealty recaps the Nashville Draft
With the team's fourth and final pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, Nashville selected goaltender Milan Kloucek from Pardubice, Czech Republic, in the seventh round (213th overall). Kloucek, a 20-year-old, 6-foot-3 goalie, recorded a 2.25 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 10 games for the Czech Extraliga's HC Dynamo Pardubice last season. He made his professional debut and had a .919 save percentage with Pardubice's junior club in 2016-17.
"He's a very flexible and mobile goalie, something we like," Predators European Scout Martin Bakula said. "He's going to have a good chance to play in the Czech Extraliga next season. He has good eye coordination and sees the ice very well, so we're pleased with him."
The Nashville Predators' top prospects, including several of this year's picks, are expected to participate in the club's 2018 Development Camp, which officially opens on Monday, June 25 in Nashville. This year's Development Camp will conclude on Friday, June 29 when the prospects participate in a Future Stars Game at 7 p.m. CT at Bridgestone Arena. Tickets are available by clicking here. For more information on Predators Development Camp, visit NashvillePredators.com.