Since Year 1 the Nashville Predators have stressed the importance of building a strong team from within. The NHL Entry Draft is the first step toward that. And this weekend the Preds will get a chance to welcome a new batch of young draftees into the organization.
As of now, the Predators have only six picks in this year’s draft, which will force the Preds to be a little more strategic with their selections. Meetings and conversations with his scouting staff has Poile confident the Preds will be able to pick up a good player with the Number 18 pick. They are also confident within two or three players of who that will be. Nashville has a deep cupboard of defensive and goaltender prospects, prompting General Manger David Poile to be open about his preference to add a young forward with the team’s first pick (the 18th overall selection this year).
However, Poile warned he’s not going to stray from the team's plan of selecting the best prospect available, “The NHL draft is more of a futures draft, say in comparison to the NFL draft. Most picks this weekend won’t play in the NHL for a couple of years. So I just ask the scouts to draft the best player.”
Even with confidence heading into the first round, Poile knows there is importance in quantity, too. “There is no question, in hockey a little bit of quantity certainly gets you quality,” Poile stated.
Currently the Predators do not own a second or fourth round pick, so unless Nashville is able to get creative with trades, the Preds will have to rely on strong late-round drafting this season. In recent drafts, though, Nashville has been quite successful in late rounds, securing Pekka Rinne
with the 258th pick in 2004 and Patric Hornqvist
with the 230th pick in 2005. Cal O’Reilly (2005 draft) and Andreas Thuresson (2007 draft), both of whom played in Nashville last season, were fifth round picks in their draft years. Last year the Preds selected Gabriel Bourque
in the fifth round; Bourque he went on to become a star in the QMJHL in ’09-10 and a key player for Team Canada at the World Junior Championships, a team usually comprised of former first and second round talents.
But, Poile also holds some options at his disposal if he decides to add a couple of picks in this year’s draft. “In the Arnott deal we did pick up an extra second round pick but it was for the 2011 (draft). I wouldn’t mind seeing if another team would be more interested in one of our 2011 second round picks than one of their second round picks for this year,” expressed Poile.
Poile also noted the possibility of trading back in the first round, but only if the Preds like the depth of options available to them when the No. 18 pick comes around. Last year there were three trades where teams with picks in the 16-21 range slid back to a little later in the first round and in all three cases the team moving back added either a second or third round pick in return.
While the draft is set to start only days away (Friday, June, 25) Poile feels there will be a lot to watch for before and during the draft. “The draft is always an exciting time. There is always activity there. There is always a good possibility that you may make a trade or something might happen when you get 30 general managers on the same floor, at the same time.”