The Nashville Predators haven’t made their pick quite yet – that will come in less than three weeks at the 2016 NHL Draft in Buffalo – but David Poile couldn’t be happier.
Unlike in 2015, the Preds general manager has a first-round selection in this year’s Draft, something Poile said he is “ecstatic” about during his address to the media on Monday. Poile and the Nashville scouting staff believe the crop of prospects in this year’s draft have plenty of potential, more so than normal, leading to the likelihood of a player who the Preds have highly rated still available at pick No. 17.
Poile says in year’s past, the Preds have been predominantly focused on a certain position, whether it be a forward or defenseman. As he stated during his end-of-season address, Poile reiterated the Predators are more likely to take who they believe is the best player on the board, with a little less importance placed on his position on the ice.
“In the past two or three years, we’ve been very focused and biased on taking forwards, because that’s where I felt our lack of depth was, but I think we’ve done a good job of filling the cupboard the last few years,” Poile said. “We’ve got some guys in the pipeline that are going to come and play here soon, so we’re more open minded. I’m not trying to give a specific direction, but if we took a forward, I wouldn’t be upset… We’re more open minded this year, the direction is not as exact in terms of what we would take.”
Poile also doesn’t plan on moving from that position. While the door is never completely closed, the GM sees the benefit of keeping the 17th selection outweighing other possibilities.
“We’re pretty comfortable with where we are at 17, so I don’t see that and I don’t see moving up from the same reason; there is a difference between how we have our players rated from 10 to 17, but probably not enough to give up something as significant,” Poile said. “If we take all of our seven picks, I’ll be pretty happy.”
No matter whose name is called by the Preds, not only in the first round, but all the way through round seven, Poile and his staff won’t have to wait long to see their newest players on the ice. The Predators return home from the Draft on June 25 and start with their 2016 Development Camp right away, getting an opportunity to see not only the newest Preds, but also those who could see some time at the NHL level in 2016-17.
“It’s a really good starting point for us, for our coaches and our staff to start evaluating our prospects and guys that have a chance to play, get games in the preseason or get to play up here in Nashville,” Poile said. “Kevin Fiala, [Vladislav] Kamenev, they jump out at me as two guys we want to have a good look at. [Yakov] Trenin had a great training camp last year, he’s only 19 and still eligible to go back to junior, but we’d like to look at him a lot.”
Poile also elaborated on some past draft selections who will attend camp and who he expects will find a spot on Nashville’s AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, during the coming season.
“Justin Kirkland will be a first-year player for Milwaukee, Anthony Richard is signed and should be in Milwaukee, Alexandre Carrier and Jack Dougherty should be in Milwaukee, and we’ve got our two goalies, Jonas Gunnarsson and Juuse Saros both here,” Poile said. “We have prospects, all of our draft choices that we take next week will be here, so it should be a good camp.”
Click here to view the preliminary roster for Nashville's 2016 Development Camp.