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Preds hope to do a lot with a little at draft

by Staff Writer / Nashville Predators

In Two Deep
Recent notable second-round selections (45-60 range)

2003: Patrice Bergeron - Boston (45th overall)
2002: Duncan Keith - Chicago (54th overall)
2002: Matt Stajan - Toronto (57th overall)
2001: Mike Cammalleri - Los Angeles (49th overall)
2000: Jarret Stoll - Calgary (46th overall)
2000: Andreas Lilja - Los Angeles (54th overall)
1996: Colin White - New Jersey (49th overall)
1996: Zdeno Chara - NY Islanders (56th overall)
1996: Tom Poti - Edmonton (59th overall)
1994: Mathieu Dandenault - Detroit (49th overall)
1994: Patrik Elias - New Jersey (51st overall)
1992: Darren McCarty - Detroit (46th overall)
1992: Mattias Norstrom - NY Rangers (48th overall)
1991: Steve Konowalchuk - Washington (58th overall)
1991: Michael Nylander - Hartford (59th overall)
1990: Vyacheslav Kozlov - Detroit (45th overall)
1989: Nicklas Lidstrom - Detroit (53rd overall)

Unless Predators general manager David Poile works out a trade with one of the other 29 NHL teams participating in Saturday's NHL Entry Draft, Nashville's first pick of the day will come late in the second round--pick No. 56. The Predators currently have four other picks, one each in rounds 4 through 7. The total of five selections is the fewest Poile, who has built the Predators largely through the NHL Entry Draft, has had to work with since the franchise's debut in 1998.

"My line to the scouts is quality over quantity this year," Poile said Tuesday. "We're going to have to do a good job and we're probably going to have to get a little lucky. Especially if we don't get a first-round pick or we can't fill in to get a third-round pick. I'm really looking for our second- and fourth-round picks to be players that we have rated really high. By that I mean hopefully we get a little lucky that somebody doesn't take our player, if you will."

The Predators scouting staff has experience finding quality in the later rounds, as evidenced by players like Martin Erat (7th round, 1999), Jordin Tootoo (4th round, 2001), and Karlis Skrastins (9th round, 1998). Notable second-round selections for Nashville include Shea Weber (49th overall, 2003), Adam Hall (52nd overall, 1999), Andrew Hutchinson (54th overall, 1999), and Denis Arkhipov (60th overall, 1998).

Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty
Brentwood's Blake Geoffrion: "A really good player," according to Preds GM David Poile
One potential draftee who could have a storybook day on Saturday is Brentwood resident Blake Geoffrion. The 6-1, 190-pound winger is expected to be plucked from a family tree that includes great-grandfather Howie Morenz and grandfather Bernie "Boom Boom" Geoffrion--each NHL Hall of Famers as well as multiple Stanley Cup winners and league MVPs during their days with the Montreal Canadiens. The 18-year-old developed his hockey skills playing in the Nashville Youth Hockey League before moving on to the prestigious high school Culver Academy in Indiana--also the alma mater of the Predators' 2003 first-round pick Ryan Suter. Most recently, Geoffrion has been part of the U.S. Development Program, playing for Team USA in the 2005 Under-17 and 2006 Under-18 World Championships. The NHL's Central Scouting Service ranked Geoffrion 33rd overall in its final North American skaters rankings, and Poile said the Predators have liked what they've seen from the hometown player.

"We really think he's a really good player," Poile said. "We'd be very happy if all the stars aligned in terms of him being available when we hit one of our draft choices. In addition to being a good player, I think coming from a hockey background and being a Nashvillian, it would be a great story. But we're only one of 30 teams, so you can't really predict how that's going to turn out.

"He's rated at the beginning of the second round," Poile added, "so he could go anywhere from somewhere in the first round to--I don't think he's going to get into the third round. So realistically the only chance that we'd have to take him would be on our second pick."

Meanwhile, the scouts and other members of the Predators front office staff are in Vancouver holding a number of meetings leading up to Saturday's event. The group is meeting in the morning and afternoon on both Thursday and Friday, and will have a final session Saturday morning before heading to GM Place for the 3 p.m. PT draft. During the meetings, team management and the scouts pore over their list of available talent, review performance data from the NHL Combine that took place in Toronto earlier this month, and interview or re-interview any prospects.

Nashvillians will be able to follow the draft by attending the Predators' activity-packed Draft Party at the Gaylord Entertainment Center or by tuning in to the draft live at 5 p.m. CT on OLN (Comcast channel 72; find OLN in your area).


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