Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Nashville Predators

Preds Prospects Look to Impress During Rookie Camp

Predators Prospects Alexandre Carrier, Justin Kirkland Just Two Hoping to Impress Coaches

by Brooks Bratten @brooksbratten / Communications & Content Coordinator

Instead of jumping on an airplane on Friday afternoon and heading south to Florida - an impending hurricane disrupted those plans - the Nashville Predators rookies will remain at home this weekend, welcoming the Tampa Bay Lightning to Ford Ice Center for a trio of games.

And with just two practices ahead of time to make preparations, time is of the essence - to a point.

Milwaukee Admirals Head Coach Dean Evason - who will lead the rookies this weekend - and his staff strike a balance of system implementation, but also team chemistry, working to build a familiarity between the players and coaches.

But when the puck drops for the first of three outings between the Preds and Bolts rookies on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT, Evason knows his group will be just fine.

"[We've had some discussions on] as far as what [Predators Head Coach] Peter Laviolette and his staff want to do here and what we want to do in Milwaukee," Evason said. "We want to incorporate it into some kind of structure so the guys know a little bit of how we want to play the game, and then allow them to go out there and use their skills and show their skills for all the staff here."

Two of the participants Evason expects solid efforts from are defenseman Alexandre Carrier and forward Justin Kirkland, both of whom spent the majority of their 2016-17 campaigns in Milwaukee. Carrier, who made his NHL debut with the Predators for two games last season - and is the only participant at the camp with NHL experience - will serve as the group's captain this weekend, a role both he and his head coach expect him to embrace.

Video: Alexandre Carrier talks Preds Rookie Camp

"That was an awesome experience," Carrier said of his chance with the Preds last season. "Being able to [be the captain this weekend], it's a good challenge for me to bring leadership. I was a captain back in juniors, but it's not the same thing when you're dealing with older guys. it's a challenge, but it's a fun challenge and I'm looking forward for it."

"His maturity was great from Day One," Evason said of Carrier. "He's been a leader in every level that he's played, we saw that right away… His competitiveness is really good, and I think that's what we saw last year and I think we've already seen it out here. He's going to be… leading by example, and that's just who he is."

Like Carrier, Kirkland also saw his first full campaign last season, amassing nine goals and 21 points in 56 outings. A 6-foot-3 forward with an offensive upside, Kirkland says last season was a 'feeling-out process' for him, working to improve the defensive side of his game, while still creating opportunities around the net.

Now, with another year of experience to his name, Kirkland is looking to use these three games to jumpstart him before main training camp opens next week.

Video: Justin Kirkland talks Preds Rookie Camp

"My main goal is to come here and make an impression on the coaching staff here and hopefully open up a few eyes," Kirkland said. "If I go to Milwaukee, now I'm familiar with Dean and the coaching staff and my goal is to be in that top six, play some big minutes for them and put up some big numbers."

"We expect a lot from [Kirkland] this year," Evason said. "What he did the entire season is he battled, he competed, and he was a real all-around player, but now we're looking for him to put up some numbers here for us this year."

The chance to impress those in charge in Milwaukee - and Nashville - is available for the taking, and there's no better outlet to do so than against another crop of rookies on the other side hoping to do the same. And those with the Pred head on their jersey want nothing more than the chance to call Bridgestone Arena home one day.

"I know Nashville has a lot of good defensemen, and maybe I could use some time in the AHL, but if the opening happens and I have the chance to be here, I'll be ready," Carrier said. "I compete hard every day to get ready for it. that's my dream, to be here all the time - so if it happens, I'll be ready."

View More