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Potential Preds: 2016 NHL Draft Scouting Report — Forwards (Part One)

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

In less than three weeks, the Nashville Predators will look to add the next piece to help them achieve their ultimate goal. The Preds are set to arrive in Buffalo for the 2016 NHL Draft in possession of the No. 17 overall pick, a selection the Nashville brass hope will one day play an integral role in the lineup.

So, who will pull on the Gold jersey when the Predators make their selection on the Draft stage? It’s anyone’s guess for now, but there are some names that could be available when the time comes. Predators Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty has said the club could utilize the strategy of taking the best player available when No. 17 arrives. Perhaps that player will be responsible for putting the puck in the net.

Here are five forwards who could hear their name called on June 24, beginning part one of our three-part series of potential Preds to be taken at the 2016 NHL Draft.

(Check back next week for the concluding portion of our forwards preview (Part Two); a look at the Draft's blueliners is also still to come)

Forwards - Part One:

Kieffer Bellows – Left Wing, 10th-ranked North American Skater, NHL Central Scouting

6-0, 196 pounds – USA NTDP, USHL

June 10, 1998 – Edina, Minnesota

  • Potted 50 goals and 81 points in 62 games in 2015-16 for the U.S. National Team Development Program. Also skated with the USNTDP Juniors in the USHL, recording 16 goals and 32 points in 23 games. Posted five goals and eight points in seven games with Team USA at the 2016 Under-18 World Championship.
  • Netted 33 goals and registered 52 points in 58 games in 2014-15 with Sioux Falls of the USHL, earning USHL Rookie of Year and All-USHL Third Team honors. Scored nine goals in the playoffs helping to lead Sioux Falls to the Clark Cup Championship.
  • His father is former NHL All-Star, Brian Bellows.
  • Committed to Boston University for the 2016-17 season.

Julien Gauthier – Right Wing, 12th-ranked North American Skater, NHL Central Scouting

6-4, 225 pounds – Val-d’Or, QMJHL

October 15, 1997 – Pointe-aux-Trembles, Quebec

  • Scored 41 goals in 58 games for Val-d’Or of the QMJHL in 2015-16. In three seasons with the Foreurs, has 87 goals and 159 points in 184 games.
  • From “Julien Gauthier has drawn well-deserved comparisons to current NHLer Rick Nash. He has an imposing frame, dazzling puck skills, and the drive to win. Learns from his past mistakes and implements new strategies to counteract them.”
  • His uncle is former NHL defenseman, Denis Gauthier

Max Jones – Left Wing, 14th-ranked North American Skater, NHL Central Scouting

6-2, 203 pounds – London, OHL

February 17, 1998 – Rochester, Michigan

  • Collected 28 goals and 52 points in 63 games for the London Knights in 2015-16 and helped the club capture the franchise’s fourth J. Ross Robertson Cup as OHL champions.
  • At the 2016 Memorial Cup, Jones recorded two goals and four points in four games to help the Knights earn an undefeated 4-0 record and capture the franchise’s second Memorial Cup championship.
  • Jones helped the United States earn a silver medal at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (7g-4a-11pts in 6gp), where he led the tournament with seven goals.
  • His father, Bradley Jones, was drafted 156th overall by the Winnipeg Jets in the 1984 NHL Draft and skated in 148 career NHL games with the Jets, Kings and Flyers from 1986-92.

Clayton Keller – Center, 9th-ranked North American Skater, NHL Central Scouting

5-10, 168 pounds – USA NTDP, USHL

July 29, 1998 – Swansea, Illinois

  • Skated for the U.S. National Team Development Program in 2015-16, tallying 37 goals and 107 points in 62 games. Appeared in 23 games for the USNTDP Juniors in the USHL in 2015-16, recording 13 goals and 37 points in 23 games. Posted four goals and 14 points in seven games for Team USA at the 2016 Under-18 World Championship.
  • Played with Shattuck St. Mary’s Midget Prep in 2013-14 before joining the USA Hockey program in 2014-15.
  • Member of the gold-medal winning U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team at the 2015 Under-18 World Championship
  • Committed to Boston University for the 2016-17 season.

Luke Kunin – Center, 11th-ranked North American Skater, NHL Central Scouting

6-0, 193 pounds – University of Wisconsin

December 4, 1997 – Chesterfield, Missouri

  • Recorded 19 goals and 32 points in 34 games during his freshman season at the University of Wisconsin in 2015-16. His 19 goals put him tied for sixth in school history in goals by a freshman.
  • Selected to play in the 2015 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game for Team Roenick on Sept. 24 in Buffalo, New York, where he posted a game-high three points on two goals and an assist.
  • Scored six goals in seven games as the captain of the gold-medal winning Team USA at the 2015 Under-18 World Championship.

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