Buffalo, New York (June 25, 2016) – The Nashville Predators made seven more selections in Rounds Two through Seven to conclude the 2016 NHL Draft from the First Niagara Center on Saturday in Buffalo, taking two forwards, four defensemen and one goaltender. Those selections come in addition to the team’s pick of defenseman Dante Fabbro with the 17th selection on Friday night.
“We are really pleased with the whole class,” Predators Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty said. “I think that the preparation really paid off for us. Pretty much every pick that we took, we talked about different scenarios that could play out through the Draft. I felt we had things where we wanted them and got a lot of the players we wanted, so we were very pleased.”
Nashville’s first selection of Day Two came at No. 47 with the selection of defenseman Samuel Girard. The 5-foot-9, 161-pound blueliner skated with Shawinigan in the QMJHL in 2015-16, being named the QMJHL Defenseman of the Year and the CHL Sportsman of the Year. Girard, 18 (5/12/98), amassed 10 goals and 74 points in 67 games last season with the Cataractes, a point total that was tops among QMJHL defensemen. He also led league defensemen in assists with 64 and was named to the 2016 QMJHL First All-Star Team.
“He is an elite offensive defenseman, and the top scorer in the CHL on defense at only 17 years old,” Predators North American Amateur Scout J-P Glaude said. “He’s got a natural offensive instinct. He can run your power play, will fake a shot, give the pass or bring the puck to the net.”
The Predators picked twice in the third round, first picking up center Rem Pitlick at pick No. 76. A University of Minnesota commit for the fall of 2016, the 5-foot-9, 194-pound center tallied 46 goals and 89 points in 56 games with Muskegon of the USHL in 2015-16. Pitlick, 19 (4/2/97), was honored as the 2016 USHL Forward and Player of the Year, as well as leading the league in goals, assists (43) and points last season. The Plymouth, Minnesota, native’s father, Lance, played for the Ottawa Senators and the Florida Panthers during an eight-year NHL career.
“He is a strong, good skating, skilled, offensive forward,” Predators North American Amateur Scout David Westby said of Pitlick. “He has great intangibles, he’s very competitive with good hockey sense; a smart player. Good speed, he can separate and penetrate and has good hands in small areas. We really like him. He’s a good player, he scored 46 goals in the USHL this year, and that’s not easy to do.”
Two picks later, Nashville selected defenseman Frederic Allard at No. 78. The 6-foot-1, 179-pound blueliner has spent the last three seasons with Chicoutimi of the QMJHL, increasing his point total in every season. The Quebec, Quebec, native recorded 14 goals and 59 points in 64 games from the backend in 2015-16. Allard, 18 (12/27/97), has 112 points in 187 career QMJHL contests.
“In two years, his progression has been really, really good,” Glaude said of Allard. “I would say a two-way defenseman, but again, he has this offensive instinct. He played all situations, power play, penalty kill. His biggest quality is his hockey sense. He’s a very intelligent player and an excellent leader. He is a good human, good person, really competitive and will be a great defenseman for our team.”
The Predators made their fourth-round pick at No. 108, selecting Swedish defenseman Hardy Haman Aktell. The 6-foot-3, 198-pound defenseman skated with the Skelleftea junior organization in 2015-16, seeing time with three different clubs. Haman Aktell, 17 (7/4/98), spent 16 games with Skelleftea AIK J18, recording two goals and 16 points in the process. He also played 10 games in the J18 Elit league and two games for Skelleftea AIK J20 in the SuperElit League, scoring one goal. Haman Aktell led all J18 Allsvenskan defensemen in assists with 14 last season.
“He’s been a little bit under the radar,” Predators European Scout Lucas Bergman said. “He’s played in the under 18 league, so did not receive as much exposure. He’s a 6-foot-3, almost 6-foot-4 defenseman who is light on his feet. He has really good hockey sense and he gets the puck up the ice. He is a very modern NHL defenseman. I think he is a top-four profile. He can play a little bit of everything, penalty kill and power play. Lots of upside, and I think the lack of exposure has helped to get him where we did.”
Nashville selected center Patrick Harper at No. 138 with their fifth-round pick. The 5-foot-8, 154-pound forward captained Avon Old Farms School during the 2015-16 season, recording 20 goals and 59 points in 27 games. Harper, 18 (7/29/98), also saw time with the Neponset Valley River Rats U18 team and the Omaha Lancers of the USHL last season. The New Canaan, Connecticut, native is committed to Boston University for the 2017-18 season.
“He is a highly, highly skilled forward,” Predators North American Amateur Scout Tom Nolan said. “He’s quick, shifty and sees the ice very well. He can score and also set up others. Right now, he is lacking strength; he is a small guy, but he’s going to get bigger and stronger. We just feel that there is a lot of upside with him.”
The Predators utilized their sixth-round pick to select goaltender Konstantin Volkov at No. 168 overall. A 6-foot-3, 212-pound netminder from Murmansk, Russia, Volkov, 19 (9/20/97), appeared in 17 contests for SKA-1946 St. Petersburg of the MHL in 2015-16, recording a 2.33 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage.
“He is a big goalie that moves very well for his size,” Predators European Scout Martin Bakula said. “He tracks the puck well. He sees the puck through the traffic because of his size and he is aggressive on his slides. We are really happy to have him. He is going to play for the Russian Under-20 team next year where he will get a lot of exposure.”
With their final selection of the 2016 Draft, the Predators selected defenseman Adam Smith at No. 198. Smith, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound blueliner at Bowling Green State University, joined the Falcons at the semester break and skated in 22 of the team’s final 23 contests in 2015-16, recording one goal and two assists. Prior to arriving in Bowling Green, Smith appeared in 110 games for the Newmarket Hurricanes of the OJHL, amassing nine goals and 37 points. The Sharon, Ontario, native was a member of the Canada East team for the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.
“Adam continued to excel all year,” Predators North American Scout Ryan Rezmierski said. “He started off playing in the OJHL, played in the Junior A Challenge, went up against some of the top competition in the world in that tournament and excelled. He went to Bowling Green State University after Christmas and took on a top-four role as a young defensemen in college and didn’t miss a beat. We just like what he brings, a well-rounded game. He can skate, is real solid defensively and he is at a good program now, at Bowling Green State, to develop.”
Fabbro, Nashville’s first-round pick, amassed 14 goals and 67 points in 45 games with Penticton in 2015-16, a point total that led all British Columbia Hockey League defensemen. He also led all defensemen in points per game (1.49) and finished second in both goals and assists to help Penticton finish with the BCHL’s top regular-season record.
“He’s an excellent two-way defensemen,” Kealty said of Fabbro. “We believe that he had the best hockey sense out of all of the defensemen in the Draft. He could play in every situation, he moves the puck well, he defends well, he can contribute offensively and he is only going to get better and better as he develops and gets stronger. He’s going to a good place to develop at Boston University. Head Coach David Quinn is a former defenseman, coached in the NHL, and has a lot of experience. We were really happy to get him. We had him rated really highly.”
The Nashville Predators’ top prospects, including several of this year’s picks, are expected to participate in the club’s 2016 Development Camp, officially opening on Monday, June 27 in Nashville. The 2016 Development Camp will conclude on Saturday, July 2 when the prospects participate in an intrasquad scrimmage at Ford Ice Center (11 a.m. CT).