There’s no denying the immediate on-ice future of the Nashville Predators organization is promising. But look a few years down the road? Yeah, that looks pretty good, too.
ESPN insider Corey Pronman released his annual look at the top prospect pools around the NHL, and has slotted the Preds at No. 10 overall after ranking 12th last year, and one of only six teams in the Western Conference to fall into the Top 16 teams.
So why so much praise for the Preds? From Pronman’s piece:
“Some may argue that I always seem to rank the Predators pretty well in terms of prospects,” Pronman writes. “But they almost always seem to go after players I like, and they did so again in 2016 in what I thought was one of the best bang-for-the-buck approaches at the draft, including No. 17 pick Dante Fabbro and No. 47 pick Samuel Girard. The result is a system with a lot of high-end talent.”
Predators forwards Kevin Fiala (No. 20), Vladislav Kamenev (No. 39) and Yakov Trenin (No. 120), defensemen Dante Fabbro (No. 21) and Samuel Girard (No. 53) and goaltender Juuse Saros – ranked third among all goaltending prospects – all made the list. Both Preds blueliners, Fabbro and Girard, were added this past June at the 2016 NHL Draft, while forwards Fiala, Kamenev and Trenin have all been a part of the organization since 2014.
Predators General Manager David Poile, Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty and the rest of the Preds front office are responsible for continuing to stock the cupboard year after year with high-end talent, something they’ve been able to do on a consistent basis for the last number of years.
“We always talk a lot about character and competitiveness and the makeup of the player; those are all important, because at the end of the day, it’s a long process to make it to the NHL,” Kealty said. “It takes years to get there, so how focused you are, how determined you are, how you handle adversity, they’re all part of the equation. It’s not an overnight type of thing; it takes years, and there’s going to be a lot of bumps in the road to get there. Can the player get through all that and can they have the determination to do it? That’s a huge part of it.”
Kealty and the Preds feel they’ve been able to find those players, especially over the past couple of Drafts, who have the talent and ability to make it to the NHL one day. Fiala already has a handful of games to his name, with the rest of the players on the list not far behind.