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Preds' Stars Stand Out from Draft Competition

by Brooks Bratten / Nashville Predators

When the Nashville Predators make their first selection of the 2015 NHL Draft next weekend, it’s scheduled to come in the second round. The Preds have done well beyond the first 30 picks before, however, with a number of players taken in later rounds on the club’s active roster.

Last week, took a closer look at the draft picks who are still currently skating in Preds Gold, but there are a few names that stand out when it comes putting up impressive numbers with regularity.

Defensemen Shea Weber and Roman Josi, forward Craig Smith as well as goaltender Pekka Rinne, were all taken in the second round or later, with each respective player having produced admirably on the Preds roster, but also standing out among their Draft classes.

Shea Weber: 2003 Draft, 2nd Round, 49th Overall

685 Games Played, 392 Points

Weber was selected by the Preds in Nashville in 2003, and 12 years later, the Captain has solidified himself as one of the best defensemen in the entire League. Of the 243 players taken after Weber in 2003, only forward Lee Stempniak has played more NHL games, and just Blues Captain David Backes (415) and Joe Pavelski of the Sharks (485), both forwards, have more points.

Maple Leafs Captain Dion Phaneuf is the only defenseman picked in 2003 who has more NHL points than Weber, but not by much. Phaneuf has recorded an even 400 points, but it’s taken him 750 games to do so. Weber only trails by eight points in 65 less outings.

Craig Smith: 2009 Draft, 4th Round, 98th Overall

277 Games Played, 144 Points

Smith finished 2014-15 with 23 goals, one shy of his career high set two seasons ago, and the winger continued to play an important role among Nashville’s top six forwards. When it comes to comparing him against other 2009 draftees, Smith is an unique find.

Of the players selected after him in the fourth round, only Chicago’s Marcus Kruger has skated in more games. When it comes to points, Smith has the highest total of anyone taken after him. The first skater with a higher point total taken before Smith? Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly, who was selected 33rd overall. In fact, there are only eight players taken in 2008 with higher career point totals than Smith.

Roman Josi: 2008 Draft, 2nd Round, 38th Overall

253 Games Played, 129 Points

After a career year in 2014-15, a season in which Josi posted 15 goals and 55 points in 81 games, the Swiss defenseman is poised to become one of the elite blueliners in the NHL. Of the players selected after Josi in 2008, nine skaters have appeared in more games than him, but only two of those nine skaters, Derek Stepan of the Rangers and Adam Henrique of the Devils, both forwards, have more points than the Nashville D-man.

Compared to his fellow defensemen, Josi averages .5 points per game, tied with Drew Doughty of the Kings for third among 2008-drafted D-men. The only two with higher percentages are Erik Karlsson of the Senators and Alex Pietrangelo of the Blues. Out of those four, Josi is the only defenseman who wasn’t taken in the first round.

Pekka Rinne: 2004 Draft, 8th Round, 258th Overall

381 Games Played, 204 Wins

When it comes to late-round steals, Rinne is up there as one of the top finds in recent history. There were 33 goaltenders taken in 2004 and none have had the amount of success that the Kempele, Finland, native has enjoyed. Nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the League’s top goaltender in 2014-15, his third career nomination, Rinne finished the season with 41 wins, the second highest total of his career.

Rinne’s 204 career victories, all with Nashville, rank first among goaltenders drafted in 2004. Tied for second place in the group are Cory Schneider of the Devils and Devan Dubnyk of the Wild, both with 97 wins apiece.

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