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Predators Roster Finds Genesis at Draft

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

Of the 34 players who sported a Nashville Predators sweater at any point during the 2014-15 campaign, 17 of them were originally drafted by the team. That's not a bad ratio.

Defensemen like Seth Jones and Ryan Ellis and forwards such as Colin Wilson and Kevin Fiala, all highly-touted prospects, were selected by the Preds in the first round of their respective NHL Drafts, but plenty of other members of the Nashville lineup came via the second, third and later rounds. Even a certain goaltender by the last name of Rinne was snagged in the eighth round back in 2004.

As of now, the Predators don't possess a pick in the first round of this year's Draft, but that doesn't mean the club won't come up with a player, or two, or three, who could be skating regularly on Bridgestone Arena ice over the coming seasons.

Before the 2015 NHL Draft gets underway in Sunrise, Florida, on June 26th and 27th, here's a look back at a number of those rostered players who have been Nashville property since the very beginning.

Round One

Colin Wilson,7th Overall, 2008
Ryan Ellis, 11th Overall, 2009
Seth Jones, 4th Overall, 2013
Kevin Fiala, 11th Overall, 2014

Round Two

Shea Weber, 49th Overall, 2003
Roman Josi, 38th Overall, 2008
Miikka Salomaki, 52nd Overall, 2011

Round Three

Taylor Beck, 70th Overall, 2009

Round Four

Craig Smith, 98th Overall, 2009
Mattias Ekholm, 102nd Overall, 2009
Viktor Arvidsson, 112th Overall, 2014

Round Five

Gabriel Bourque, 132nd Overall, 2009

Round Six

Anthony Bitetto, 168th Overall, 2010
Marek Mazanec, 179th Overall, 2012

Round Eight

Pekka Rinne, 258th Overall, 2004


Preds Draftee Details:



Forwards:

Viktor Arvidsson – 4th round, 112th overall in 2014

The only player chosen outside of the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft to play in the NHL last season, Arvidsson impressed with Milwaukee of the AHL before getting the call to Nashville on March 20. The Swede was named to the 2015 AHL All-Rookie team in his first season with the Admirals after leading the team in points with 55 to his name. He was also named the AHL Rookie of the Month in January, amassing 13 points in just 12 contests. Arvidsson skated in six games for the Preds from March 21 through March 31.

Taylor Beck – 3rd round, 70th overall in 2009

After inking a one-year deal in September, Beck potted eight goals and 16 points during his first full NHL season with the Preds in 2014-15. Beck tallied three game-winning goals on the campaign and contributed to Nashville’s 9-2 victory over Toronto last November by scoring two goals and adding an assist. A native of St. Catherine’s, Ontario, Beck has posted 11 goals and 23 points in 85 career games with the Predators.

Gabriel Bourque – 5th round, 132nd overall in 2009

Bourque made his mark during his first career postseason game in 2012, scoring two goals against Detroit in Game One of the Western Conference Quarterfinals. Since then, Bourque has established himself as a tenacious forechecker and set career highs last season in hits (144) and blocked shots (44). Bourque has tallied 30 goals and 74 points in 220 games with the Predators.

Kevin Fiala – 1st round, 11th overall in 2014

The Predators first selection in the 2014 NHL Draft (11th overall), Fiala eventually ended up in Nashville before season’s end. The 18-year-old joined the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL in January and recorded 17 points, including nine goals, in 26 games with the Ads. Fiala’s first career recall to the Predators came on March 24, debuting against the Montreal Canadiens at Bridgestone Arena. He also skated in Game Four of the Western Conference Quarterfinals for the Preds against Chicago, becoming the sixth youngest player in NHL history to appear in a postseason game.

Miikka Salomaki – 2nd round, 52nd overall in 2011

Salomaki certainly made the most of his first and only game in the NHL to this point, scoring a goal against Dallas on Jan. 8 in a 3-2 overtime win for the Preds. He also finished that outing with four shots on goal and led the team with seven hits. The Raahe, Finland, native played in Milwaukee for a majority of 2014-15, collecting 18 points in 38 games for the Admirals.

Craig Smith – 4th round, 98th overall in 2009

Smith enjoyed a successful campaign in 2014-15, appearing in all 82 games and potting 23 goals, a mark that was tied for the team lead. It was Smith’s second consecutive 20-goal campaign and he paced the Preds with 252 shots on goal. Smith also performed well in the playoffs, recording two goals and three assists in Nashville’s opening series against Chicago. A native of Wisconsin, Smith appeared in his 200th career game last season, totaling 144 points in 277 outings with Nashville.

Colin Wilson – 1st round, 7th overall in 2008

It was a career year for Wilson in 2014-15, tallying a career high 20 goals and 42 points, and his goal-scoring prowess carried over into the postseason when he potted five against the Blackhawks. Wilson was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Week for the week ending Dec. 28, thanks to a final total of four goals and one assist over three games during that time. Drafted in 2008, Wilson has now spent six seasons in Nashville, racking up a total of 77 goals and 178 points through his career.

Defensemen:

Anthony Bitetto – 6th round, 168th overall in 2010

Bitetto got his first taste of NHL action in 2014-15, appearing in seven games for the Predators overall. The Island Park, New York, native made his NHL debut on Jan. 17 at Detroit. While he hasn’t recorded a point with the Preds yet, Bitetto put up some offensive numbers in Milwaukee last season, finishing with 30 points in 70 games for the Ads. A sixth-round selection in 2010, Bitetto has spent a majority of the last three seasons with the Admirals and could see more time at the NHL level in the near future.

Mattias Ekholm – 4th round, 102nd overall in 2009

Ekholm established himself even further as a trusted defender in Nashville last season, improving in virtually every statistical category. His seven goals, 11 assists and 18 points were all career highs and he ranked third on the team in blocked shots with 108. Ekholm and Ryan Ellis made up a solid pairing for the Preds for a good portion of the campaign. The Swede also appeared in the postseason for the first time, dressing for all six of Nashville’s games against Chicago in the first round while adding a goal in Game Three.

Ryan Ellis – 1st round, 11th overall in 2009

A prolific offensive defenseman in his junior days with the Windsor Spitfires, Ellis was a highly-touted prospect whom the Preds selected 11th overall in 2009. Since then, Ellis has become a regular in the Nashville lineup, setting a career high in goals with nine in 2014-15, even though he missed over a quarter of the season with an injury. His 27 points last season also tied a career high. After inking a five-year deal in September of 2014, Ellis figures to be in Preds Gold for the foreseeable future.

Seth Jones – 4th overall, 1st round in 2013

Still just 20 years of age, Nashville’s first selection in 2013 continues to improve. Jones upped his offensive numbers compared to his rookie season, totaling eight goals and 27 points in 2014-15 while skating in all 82 games on the blue line. Jones saw more responsibility in his sophomore season, averaging almost 20 minutes of ice time per night and has already appeared in 159 NHL contests.

Roman Josi – 2nd round, 38th overall in 2008

Josi enjoyed his best NHL season to date in 2014-15, leading Nashville blueliners in points with 55, a mark that was just one short of tying Preds Captain Shea Weber for the club record for points by a defenseman in a single season. The Swiss rearguard tied for fifth in the NHL in points and appeared in all but one of Nashville’s 82 games, leading the Preds with 209 blocked shots. Josi and Weber made up one of the top pairings in the entire League last season, combining for an even 100 points between the two. A second-round pick in 2008, Josi’s numbers have improved in each of his four seasons in Nashville.

Shea Weber – 2nd round, 49th overall in 2003

Drafted in the second round of the 2003 Draft, held in Nashville, Weber has become not only the Captain of the Predators, but has also established himself as one of the elite defensemen in the game today. Possessing the hardest shot at the NHL Skill Competition with a mark of 108.5 mph, Weber tallied 45 points last season, his seventh career 40-plus point season. Weber led the team in hits with 166 and finished second in blocked shots with 147. Weber is Nashville’s all-time leader among defensemen in goals (146), assists (246) and points (392).


Goaltenders:

Marek Mazanec – 6th round, 179th overall in 2012

When Pekka Rinne went down with an injury last season, it was Mazanec who joined the club, appearing in two games for the Preds in 2014-15. Mazanec didn’t record a victory in those two appearances, but he stopped 43 of the 47 shots he faced in total. Mazanec went 18-18-8 with four shutouts in Milwaukee last season.

Pekka Rinne – 8th round, 258th overall in 2004

Selected in a round that no longer exists in the NHL Draft, Rinne is one of the true late-pick finds in recent memory. A finalist for the Vezina Trophy this season as the League’s top goaltender, Nashville’s eighth-round pick (258th overall) in 2004 has developed into one of the elite goaltenders in the NHL today. Rinne went 41-17-6 in 2014-15 with a 2.18 goals-against average, a .923 save percentage and four shutouts. The Finnish netminder’s win total finished tied for second in the NHL and his goals-against average ranked third. Rinne in Nashville’s all-time leader in wins (204), shutouts (36), goals-against average (2.36) and save percentage (.919).


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