The Nashville Predators still got their guy.
Without a first round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft held this weekend at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, Predators General Manager David Poile and the Nashville scouts had to wait through 30 other picks on Friday night to see who would remain on the board come Saturday morning.
Luckily for the Preds, whose first selection came at No. 55 in the second round, Iakov Trenin was available when Nashville officially went on the clock for the first time.
“Trenin was our first guy that we wanted to take,” Poile said. “[He] was a No. 1 guy that we had rated to take at our pick, and [our ratings were correct] because that’s how it fell.”
A 6-foot-2 Russian center, Trenin potted 18 goals and 67 points in 58 games last season for Gatineau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Poile said the Predators were so keen on Trenin they actually considered making a trade in order to move up to ensure they’d be able to snag him. As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary.
“Sometimes it’s good to be good, sometimes it’s better to be lucky,” Poile said. “We didn’t think [Trenin] would fall that low, but he did, so it worked out great. We got the guy we wanted, we didn’t have to give up a third or a fourth [round] pick or [future picks], so we’re exactly where we wanted to be.”
Trenin, who says his favorite player is Pittsburgh Penguins center and former NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin, also prefers to model his game after his fellow countryman. If Trenin is able to flirt with that level one day, Nashville’s pick could pay large dividends.
“I would say Trenin’s biggest strength would be his hockey sense,” Preds North American Amateur Scout J-P Glaude said. “The way he understands the game, the way he puts himself always in the right spot and the way he helps his defensemen and will be on the attack [are all assets]. I really see him as a top-two center in the NHL. He will put points on the board and coaches will love to have him and put him any situation.”
For Poile, who flew directly from Florida to Toronto to fulfill his duties as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee before a return to Nashville in time for the opening of the NHL Free Agency period on July 1, this weekend’s Draft was a positive step for the organization, with the selection of Trenin leading the way.
“We got the players that we wanted to get,” Poile said. “I’m happy with all of the above.”
Poile confirmed that the Predators intend on buying forward Rich Clune out of his contract, which has one year remaining.
The GM also said the team has explored different options on forward Viktor Stalberg.
“We’re talking to a couple of teams about possibly making a trade [involving Stalberg],” Poile said. “I thought that if that was going to happen, it might’ve happened [Saturday], so we’re going to pursue that…and there’s also a possibility that we could buy him out.”