TSP: Top Nashville Predators Prospects

Eeli Tolvanen Nashville Predators Prospects
TAMPA, FL - APRIL 01: Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (11) skates the puck away from Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman (6) in the 1st period of the NHL game between the Nashville Predators and Tampa Bay Lightning on April 01, 2018 at Amalie Arena in Tampa, FL. (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Welcome to the 2018 Top Shelf Prospects series.  As we go through the Summer of 2018 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top prospects in the NHL. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here.  Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2018 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed.

What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2018-19 roster of the NHL team in question. We will also bring you one sleeper pick – a player who was either drafted in the 4th-round or later, or was an undrafted free agent signing who we pick as our dark horse to make the NHL. For those wondering, the cut-off for what is or isn’t a prospect is typically about 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or is 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.

Nashville Predators Prospects

Coming off a Stanley Cup Final appearance, the Nashville Predators were looking for more. Lack of depth at centre was the team’s undoing in 2017, and David Poile went out to make sure that would not happen again in 2018. He added Nick Bonino last summer and traded for Kyle Turris early in the year. Meanwhile, Pekka Rinne had a Vezina Trophy-winning season and P.K. Subban was nominated for the Norris. It all added up to a President’s Trophy-winning season, the first in franchise history. Unfortunately, the Predators would fall in the second round of the playoffs, losing to the Winnipeg Jets.

The off-season saw the Predators bring back a familiar face from the early years of the team, as they inked Dan Hamhuis to a one-year deal. They also added depth forwards Zac Rinaldo and Connor Brickley.  Overall though, it was a relatively quiet off-season as the Predators look to keep their team together and take the next step.

2018 Draft Picks: Jachym KondelikSpencer StastneyVladislav YeryomenkoMilan Kloucek
Graduations: Juuse SarosFrederick Gaudreau (age)

 

Top Prospect: Eeli Tolvanen

Right Wing — shoots Left
Born April 22nd, 1999 — Vihti, Finland
Height 5’10” — Weight 191 lbs [178 cm / 87 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 1st round, #30 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft

Tolvanen had one of the best KHL seasons for a teenager in league history. He put up 19 goals and 36 points in 49 games for Jokerit. He also added six goals and seven points in 11 playoff games. Tolvanen got plenty of experience for Finland on the international stage. He put up six points in five games at the World Juniors, nine points in five games at the Olympics, and four points in four games at the World Championships. Tolvanen finished the year playing his first three games for the Predators but is still searching for his first NHL point.

Skating

Tolvanen is a very good skater. He has very good top-end speed. Tolvanen uses a quick first step and excellent acceleration to elude defenders and get himself open to fire a shot on goal. He can beat his man to the outside. When Tolvanen gets a step on his man, he can drop his shoulder and cut to the net. He can also make a number of quick cuts and uses strong agility to beat his man one-on-one. Despite his small stature, Tolvanen is strong on the puck and has good balance on his skates. He is tough to knock over when he is battling for pucks along the boards.

Offensive Game

Tolvanen is a pure sniper who scores goals in a variety of different ways. He reads the play extremely well and gets himself into the right position to create a scoring chance. Tolvanen has an outstanding one-timer, with great power and accuracy. He also has a lightning quick release on his wrist shot. That wrist shot is heavy, and he is also very accurate. It is one of the best shots of any player not in the NHL. Tolvanen has the soft hands to make quick moves and beat defenders with his stick handling ability. Tolvanen’s snapshot is also deadly. He can fire that vast assortment of shots in stride. He can also bury rebounds and has the hand-eye coordination to get deflections in front of the net as well.

While he is known for his goal scoring, Tolvanen also has good vision and passing skills. He can be a playmaker both in the cycle game, and when coming down the wing with the puck. He can also use his strong stickhandling and changes of pace in his skating to open up passing lanes and find an open teammate. His high-level hockey IQ extends to his playmaking, as he finds teammates open and in good positions to generate a scoring chance.

Defensive Game

Tolvanen has good defensive instincts for a teenager. He is rarely caught out of position and is more than willing to help out in his own end of the ice. He must improve his strength though. When trying to contain bigger forwards in the cycle, he can often be out muscled. One thing he does well though is the transition to offence once he is able to create a turnover in the defensive end of the ice.

Outlook

Tolvanen should make the Predators this year and is expected to have an immediate impact. He might start out on the third line but could work his way up to the second. He also could find himself seeing some power play time. The deep Predators team might mean that he doesn’t get quite as much ice time as other NHL rookies and this will likely reduce his chances at the Calder Trophy. That said, Tolvanen is still one of the most exciting and talented prospects in hockey.

 

#2 Prospect: Dante Fabbro

Defense — shoots Right
Born June 20th, 1998 — New Westminster, British Columbia
Height 6’1″ — Weight 192 lbs [185 cm / 87 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 1st round, #17 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft

Fabbro improved his offensive output across the board in his second season with Boston University. He put up nine goals and 29 points in 38 games. He helped the Terriers to a Hockey East title. Fabbro also played for Team Canada at the World Juniors, winning a gold medal.

Skating

The strength of Fabbro’s game comes from his silky-smooth skating stride. He has great agility, as well as an excellent first step, allowing him to pounce on loose pucks quickly. Fabbro has good speed and acceleration in both directions and covers a ton of ground in just a few seconds. He also has good edgework and pivots, allowing him to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. His lower body strength could be improved, which would make him stronger on the puck as well as improve his balance.

Offensive Game

Fabbro is a two-way defender who does everything well. He moves the puck effectively, with a crisp first pass and good stickhandling ability. Fabbro starts the transition game with a smart first pass. He can also avoid oncoming forecheckers and start the play by skating out of his own end of the rink. He is willing to lead the rush or jump in to provide offensive support as a trailer.

Fabbro is poised with the puck on his stick and quarterbacks things from the point on the power play. With his good vision and high hockey IQ, he can play the role of the playmaker from the back end. Fabbro also has a hard and accurate slap shot and has an excellent release on his wrist and snapshots. He is a goal scoring threat at the point or on the rush. He understands when to pinch in to keep a play alive and when to avoid taking unnecessary risks.

Defensive Game

Defensively, Fabbro’s strong skating also allows him good gap control. He takes away the middle of the ice and forces attackers to try to beat him to the outside. While not a big hitter, he is able to take out opponents who try to beat him wide, playing the body and being physical. He also is not afraid to battle in front of the net or in the corners. Fabbro effectively cuts down passing and shooting lanes. He is not afraid to put his body on the line to block shots. His game shows maturity with great positioning in his own end.

Outlook

Fabbro heads back to Boston University for his junior season this fall. He has been named the captain of the team. With the depth of the Predators blueline, this is likely the smart choice as Fabbro needs a bit more development time and would be unlikely to crack the roster. Look for the Predators to sign Fabbro at the end of the year and get him started in the AHL.

 

#3 Prospect: Emil Pettersson

Centre — shoots Left
Born January 14th, 1994 — Sundsvall, Sweden
Height 6’2″ — Weight 176 lbs [188 cm / 80 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 6th round, #155 overall at the 2013 NHL Draft

In his first season in North America, Pettersson put up 13 goals and 33 assists for 46 points in 72 games. He was named to the AHL All-Star game. Pettersson is the older brother of Vancouver Canucks top prospect Elias Pettersson.

Skating

Pettersson’s skating is a bit of a work in progress. His skating stride is awkward and choppy and takes away from his overall speed and acceleration. He needs to smooth out his stride and work on a quicker first few steps. His edgework and agility are decent and allow him to make quick cuts, and control the puck down low. He could be a little stronger on his skates, and this would improve by adding muscle to his frame. This would help Pettersson to win more battles along the boards.

Offensive Game

Pettersson is more of a playmaker than a scorer. He has good vision and anticipates the movements of teammates and opponents. He can control the puck on the cycle game and has the poise and patience to wait for a teammate to get open and then make a play. Pettersson is effective at running the power play off the half-boards, making smart plays with the puck and creating scoring chances. Pettersson has an accurate wrist shot and a good release. He also has the quick hands to finish in close to the net.

Pettersson needs to play a bit more of a physical game. He needs to get better at winning battles in the corners and at establishing a position in front of the net when he does not have the puck. He has good height but is very skinny at this point. Pettersson should spend the summer adding muscle to his frame.

Defensive Game

Pettersson plays a strong defensive game. His positioning is sound and he supports the defence down low. He anticipates well and creates turnovers by getting his long stick into passing lanes. Once there is a turnover Pettersson is quick to transition to offence. He could use some work on his faceoffs.

Outlook

Pettersson was one of the Admirals best players last year. He still needs to work on his game though, particularly adding more muscle to his frame and playing a bit more of a North American style of game. He is likely to be back in Milwaukee this year, with some call-ups if the Predators experience injuries. Already 24, he needs to take the next step soon, and might even be ready for a full-time NHL role in 2019-20.

 

#4 Prospect:  Alexandre Carrier

Defence — shoots Right
Born October 8th, 1996 — Quebec City, Quebec
Height 5’11” — Weight 174 lbs [180 cm / 79 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 4th round, #115 overall, at the 2015 NHL Draft

In his second season with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals, Carrier continued to show his puck-moving skill. He put up four goals and 28 points in 73 games.

Skating

Carrier is a strong two-way defenseman and this is based around his good mobility. He has decent speed and acceleration in both directions. His agility, edgework and pivots are also good, allowing him to transition from offence to defence, and vice-versa very quickly. He could use some increased muscle mass to help in battling on the boards and clearing the crease.

Offensive Game

Carrier has a very good hockey IQ. He reads the play extremely well and makes smart plays with the puck. He skates the puck away from forecheckers and makes a strong first pass to start the breakout. Carrier picks his spots well and is willing to lead or join the rush when an opportunity presents itself. He can quarterback the play from the point on the power play with excellent vision and passing skills. He also has a hard and accurate slap shot. Carrier’s wrist shot is accurate, powerful, and features a quick release.

Defensive Game

Carrier’s ability to read the play extends to his defensive game as well. He maintains good gap control and funnels attacks to the outside. He also has good positioning and breaks up plays. Carrier is not a big hitter but is not afraid to engage in physical battles on the boards and in front of the net.  He could use more upper body strength as his lack of size is a bit of a detriment here.

Outlook

The Predators defence is one of the best in the NHL, and extremely hard to crack. Carrier will challenge Anthony Bitetto for the eighth spot in the lineup. However, he is just 22 years old and needs game time. Expect him to play on the top pair in Milwaukee and continue his development. He could see NHL action if injuries hit.

 

#5 Prospect: Frederic Allard

Defence — shoots Right
Born December 27, 1997 — St. Sauveur, Quebec
Height 6’1″ — Weight 184 lbs [185 cm / 83 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 3rd round, #78 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft

In Allard’s first season with Milwaukee, he scored eight goals and 24 points in 55 games. He also played three ECHL games with the Norfolk Admirals.

Skating

Allard is a strong skater.  His speed and acceleration are good in both directions. A quick first step helps him to win races to loose pucks. Strong agility and good edgework allow Allard to get back quickly for loose pucks and to avoid forecheckers to start the play up the ice. His agility also gives him the ability to walk the line, opening up passing and shooting lanes in the offensive zone. Allard’s pivots are also very good, allowing him to transition from defence to offence quickly and vice-versa. He covers a lot of ice. Allard could stand to improve his lower body strength going forward. This would improve his balance, and help him to clear the front of the net and win battles along the boards.

Offensive Game

Frederic Allard plays a very smart offensive game.  He has good stickhandling and shows patience and poise with the puck on his stick. Quarterbacking the offence from the blue line, Allard waits for the play to open up and a teammate to get in a good position before making a tape-to-tape pass. He has the hockey IQ to see plays developing and the passing skill to take advantage when they do. He has increased the power in both his slap shot and wrist shot. Allard could still add more strength going forward. Allard can also use his stickhandling and his skating to both lead and join the rush. He makes a strong first pass out of his own zone and gets the transition game started.

Defensive Game

Allard shows a commitment to playing strong defence, but his actual game is a bit of a work in progress. He battles hard along the boards and in front of the net, but can sometimes be overpowered by bigger, more powerful forwards. His positioning and gap control can be excellent on some nights but could stand to be more consistent on others. He is willing to block shots as well. Allard does have an active stick, which he uses to poke check opponents and cut down on passing lanes.

Outlook

Allard will also battle with Carrier and Bitetto for the final spot on the Predators blueline. He is still just 20 years old though, and if he is not a top-6 defenceman, he should be sent back to the AHL for more development time. He could see a call-up if injuries hit, particularly on the right side.

 

#6 Prospect: Patrick Harper

Center/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born July 29th, 1998 — New Canaan, Connecticut
Height 5’9″ — Weight 160 lbs [175 cm / 73 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 5th round, #138 overall, at the 2016 NHL Draft

Harper had another strong season with Boston University. He scored eight goals and 21 points in 20 games. Harper also played for Team USA at the World Juniors, putting up two goals and four points in seven games and winning a bronze medal.

Skating

Harper is a good, but not great skater. His speed and acceleration are well above-average. He also has good agility and edgework. While Harper does not blow anyone away, he can certainly keep up with the play and is elusive enough to avoid defenders in the neutral zone and offensive zone. He could be stronger on his skates. Harper needs to add muscle to his frame to win more battles along the boards and to fight through checks.

Offensive Game

Harper has dynamic offensive skills. He is an excellent stick handler who can make plays while moving at top speed. Harper can fool defenders and create space for himself to get off a pass or shot. He sees the ice very well, identifying open teammates and finding them with a good pass. His anticipation is very good. He reads the play, anticipates where his teammates will go, and can make them passes through tight openings or with a saucer pass. He also has a very good wrist shot and quick release.

Harper needs to be more consistent at using these skills game-in and game-out. There are times when he is absolutely electric and there are others when disappears into playing a perimeter game. Harper also needs to get stronger so that he can play in the dirty areas of the ice, win battles in the corners and fight for position in front of the net.

Defensive Game

Harper’s defensive game is hurt by his lack of size and strength. He works hard, but is unable to contain bigger forwards in the cycle game. They can overpower him and get to the net. He uses good anticipation and hockey IQ to cut down passing lanes and create turnovers though.

Outlook

Harper will head back to Boston University for his junior season. With the lighter, weekend-based, NCAA schedule, the Predators hope that he is able to spend plenty of time in the weight room and fill out his frame. If he has another strong season, the Predators could make him a contract offer at the end of the college season.

 

#7 Prospect: Yakov Trenin

Centre/Left Wing — shoots Right
Born January 13th, 1997 — Chelyabinsk, Russia
Height 6’2″ — Weight 205 lbs [188 cm/93 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 2nd round, #55 overall, at the 2015 NHL Draft

Trenin was one of the Predators final cuts in training camp one year ago. He went to the AHL and battled injuries. This led to a disappointing rookie season, considering his strong training camp. Trenin scored just five goals and 16 points in 44 games.

Skating

There are some concerns about Trenin’s skating ability. His stride is very short and choppy, and his stance is upright. While he generates decent top end speed despite this, it only comes when he is able to build speed over a long distance. His first step and his acceleration need improvement. There have been small improvements over the last couple of years but there is still work to be done.

His stride also affects his agility, as he also needs improvement in this area. He just is not quick in moving side to side and avoiding defenders. Trenin has good lower-body strength and puck-protection. This helps him to win battles along the boards or play the cycle. He also has the power to fight through checks. A better skating stance would also improve these areas of his game.

Offensive Game

In Junior, Trenin was an effective playmaker off the wing. He uses his size and stickhandling ability to protect the puck and extend plays in the cycle game. This gives his teammates time to get open and when they do Trenin creates a scoring opportunity by putting a quick pass right on their tape. He has very good vision and the ability to put the puck through the smallest of openings. There were flashes of these abilities in his AHL time, but he couldn’t seem to get going over a long length of time.

Trenin also has a very powerful wrist shot and an excellent release. He did not use that shot enough in his draft year but improved recently. This led to the jump in his goal totals in junior. He also banged in more goals in front of the net. Trenin is willing to play a robust physical game. He can be a big hitter on the forecheck, punishing opposing defencemen who go back to retrieve dump-ins and loose pucks.

Trenin is also not afraid to battle on the boards for loose pucks and try to gain position to get open for a shot. He’s also very good at establishing his position in front of the net, and not being moved away by the opposing defender. He could stand to add more upper body strength as he moves from junior to pro hockey. Trenin’s hockey smarts are very high, and he often makes the smart pass or smart play in the offensive zone.

Defensive Game

Trenin’s defensive game has improved. While the lack of speed, but especially short burst quickness can be a real handicap in his own end of the ice. He can be vulnerable to being beat to open ice or loose pucks by quicker opponents. That said, he brings grit and a physical game in his own end of the rink, which helps along the boards and in clearing loose pucks. His positioning and active stick do a good job of cutting down passing and shooting lanes.

Outlook

Skating issues likely mean that Trenin’s pro future is as a winger instead of a centre. He will have less ice to cover, and less defensive responsibility. He has shown that he can put up points in junior and has offensive skill, but that did not translate in an injury-plagued AHL campaign. Trenin will likely be back in Milwaukee, and the Predators hope that he can stay healthy and improve that production. His future ceiling may be a third liner, but Trenin’s two-way game can be valuable if he improves his skating.

 

#8 Prospect: Grant Mismash

Left Wing — shoots Left
Born February 19th, 1999 — Edina, Minnesota
Height 6’0″ — Weight 186 lbs [183 cm / 84 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 2nd round, #61 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft

Mismash put up nine goals and 22 points in 38 games with the University of North Dakota in his freshman season. He was named to the NCHC All-Rookie Team.

Skating

Mismash has a good first step and very good acceleration. However, his top-end speed lacks that elite gear. He is still well above average in terms of speed, but he’s a notch or two below being an elite skater. Mismash has decent lower body strength and has the balance and power to fight through checks and win battles at the college level. However, he must continue to get stronger before he is ready to play his style of game at the pro level.

Offensive Game

Mismash is a goal scorer. He has a tremendous wrist shot. If it isn’t already NHL calibre it is awful close. The release is lightning quick. His shot is heavy, as he is able to transfer tremendous power and flex into his stick. It is also deadly accurate. Mishmash has the hockey IQ to settle into open spots on the ice when his teammates have the puck, getting ready to unleash his shot. He also has a very good one-timer. Adding to his goal-scoring prowess, Mismash has the soft hands to finish plays in close to the net.

In terms of playmaking style, Mismash moves the puck well in the cycle game. He gets the puck to teammates in good areas and keeps it moving effectively. He prefers the safe, simple play, and protecting the puck over trying something risky to really generate a good opportunity. Mismash does not make mistakes with the puck, but he also does not have the creativity to be a top-level playmaker. Instead, Mismash creates assists through hard work. He gets in quickly on the forecheck and plays an aggressive game. He chases down loose pucks as well as forcing defencemen into making mistakes. His physical play along the boards and in front of the net can sometimes lead to penalty issues, and he will need to work to reign that in.

Defensive Game

Mismash’s defensive game is still a work in progress. He is willing to put in the work in the defensive zone, providing back support and working down low in containing the cycle. However, his positioning needs to be better. He also needs to be more disciplined. This is both in remembering to stay with his man instead of chasing loose pucks, as well as being more disciplined in avoiding costly penalties.

Outlook

Mismash heads back to North Dakota for his sophomore campaign. He will also look for a spot on the American team for the World Junior Championships in Vancouver and Victoria. The Predators will hope to see a jump in his offensive production and minutes this season. A strong campaign could see him sign a contract and head to Milwaukee in the spring.

 

#9 Prospect: Anthony Richard

Left Wing — shoots Left
Born December 20th, 1996 — Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
Height 5’10” — Weight 163 lbs [178 cm/74 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 4th round, #100 overall, at the 2015 NHL Draft

After struggling as an AHL rookie, Richard took a big step forward in his second year with the Admirals. He put up 19 goals and 36 points in 75 games.

Skating

Richard is a very strong skater. He has a great first step, excellent acceleration, and outstanding top-end speed. He can take a defenceman wide and cut to the net. Once Richard gets a step on a defenceman he can drop his shoulder and accelerate past him. His speed also makes him a threat to get behind the defence and create breakaways when turnovers occur. He also has very good edgework and agility, which helps him to be elusive in the neutral zone and offensive zone. Richard needs to continue to work on his strength though as this would help him in battles.

Offensive Game

Richard pairs his skating ability with great hands. He can make plays while moving at top speed. This makes him especially dangerous off the rush. He is more of a goal scorer than a playmaker. Richard has a good wrist shot and quick release. He also is able to score in tight to the net with the quick reflexes to pounce on rebounds and get deflections. However, Richard does not win enough battles in front of the net and can get boxed out by bigger defenders. He did a better job this season than in his first year in the AHL but still needs to improve.

Richard makes simple passes to keep the puck moving. He is not really a creative playmaker but instead tends to play a straightforward game. He also tries to generate offence through the forecheck, but can sometimes be too aggressive leading to penalties or getting caught out of position. Richard was a very creative player in the QMJHL but hasn’t played the same way in the AHL so far.

Defensive Game

Richard works hard in the defensive end of the ice. He has good positioning and uses his quickness to cut down passing lanes. However, he is hurt by a lack of size and strength. This is another area where an increase in muscle mass would help him. He needs to be better at keeping his opponent to the outside and not letting them drive the net.

Outlook

Richard has the skill level necessary to be a middle-six winger but needs to continue working on adding strength. He could be NHL ready in a year or two. While Richard played centre in junior, his pro future is likely on the wing due to the lessened defensive responsibilities and support down low.

 

#10 Prospect: David Farrance

Defence — shoots Left
Born June 23rd, 1999 — Victor, New York
Height 5’11” — Weight 189 lbs [180 cm / 86 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 3rd round, #92 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft

Farrance struggled in his first season with the Boston University Terriers. He put up three goals and nine assists for 31 points. Issues in the defensive end of the ice led to the coaches limiting his ice-time in his freshman year.

Skating

Farrance is a very good skater. He has excellent agility along with very good edgework and pivots. He transitions quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. This mobility also allows him to cover a lot of ice. Farrance is fast and has good acceleration in both directions. He is able to join the rush, as well as pinch in from the blue line, and still get back defensively. He could stand to work on his lower-body strength and balance though. Farrance can be overpowered in the corners or in front of the net.

Offensive Game

Farrance is a solid playmaker. He can skate the puck out of danger in his own end and has the stickhandling ability to carry the puck and lead the rush. He can also start the transition game with an excellent first pass. Farrance can even throw the long home-run pass, hitting a streaking forward for an odd-man rush. He shows poise with the puck, keeping his head up and scanning the ice to make a play both in transition and when quarterbacking things from the blue line. His vision and ability to make passes through tight spaces is a real asset here.

He is more of a quarterback than a trigger-man though. While Farrance has a decent slap shot from the point, it is not a howitzer. He can sneak in from the blue line and let go a wrist shot. He gets it through traffic and is accurate. It also features a quick release. He could stand to make better decisions with the puck. He is prone to giveaways, as well as to firing a slap shot when there is no shooting lane. This is an area he will need to work on.

Defensive Game

Farrance uses his strong skating ability, to be tough to beat one-on-one. He is decent at defending against the rush and makes quick poke checks to steal the puck from defenders. He also maintains good gap control and forces his man to the outside. However, his size deficiency can cause some issues defensively. These manifest when defending down low in his own zone. Farrance is not very physical. He has trouble clearing the front of the net and winning battles in the corners. When he does get the puck, he is able to transition quickly from defence to offence.

Outlook

Farrance heads back to BU this fall and it would not be a surprise if he spends two or more seasons in the NCAA. He really needs to bulk up and continue to improve his defensive game. Last season, Farrance lacked the confidence of his coaches and thus did not get the minutes to utilize his offensive skills.

 

Sleeper Prospect: Jacob Paquette

Defence — shoots Left
Born May 26th, 1999 — Ottawa, Ontario
Height 6’3″ — Weight 200 lbs [191 cm / 91 kg]
Drafted by the Nashville Predators in the 7th round, #216 overall, at the 2017 NHL Draft

Paquette put up four goals and 15 points in 63 games for the Kingston Frontenacs last season. He also added a goal and four points in 16 games, but the Frontenacs fell in the OHL Eastern Conference Final to the Hamilton Bulldogs.

Skating

Paquette is a decent skater for his size. He has good speed and acceleration in both directions which allows him to keep up with quicker forwards. He also has good agility and edgework. This helps him to keep attackers in front of him and force them to the outside. He also is powerful and strong on his skates. Helping him to clear the front of the net and win battles in the corners.

Offensive Game

Paquette has shown some offensive ability with a good first pass, and a hard shot he keeps low and on the net. The offence has been inconsistent though and defence is certainly the bread and butter of his game. It is unlikely that he will ever be a big offensive producer at the NHL level. Most importantly he will need to continue to develop his stickhandling abilities to move the puck out of danger in his own end, as well as continue to improve his vision and outlet pass so that they reach the levels needed to play in the pros.

Defensive Game

Paquette is a strong defensive defenceman with a good physical game and excellent positioning. Paquette maintains good gap control and is very tough to beat one-on-one. He uses a long stick to cut down on passing lanes and is not afraid to use his body to block shots. Paquette throws big hits, battles hard on the boards, and clears the front of the net. He is particularly effective on the penalty kill.

Outlook

Paquette will head back to the Frontenacs. He will finish his junior career and likely spend time in the AHL before he is NHL ready. The Frontenacs mortgaged their future last year to try and win the OHL title. If they don’t look like contenders this year, they will try to move Paquette to a contender prior to the OHL Trade Deadline.

 

System Outlook

Trades, graduations, and a lack of draft picks in this year’s NHL Draft have weakened the Predators system over the last year. With their recent NHL success, the team must now work even harder to keep the system stocked while trying to contend for a Stanley Cup.

Up front, the Predators added Carl Persson as a free agent out of Sweden. He should head to Milwaukee to develop. They also have Rem Pitlick, Thomas Novak, Pavel KoltyginJustin Kirkland, Tyler Moy, Jachym Kondelik, and Zachary Magwood in the system.

On defence, the Predators added Filip Pyrochta, a 22-year-old undrafted free agent to the pool. They also have Jack Dougherty, Joonas LyytinenHardy Häman AktellAdam Smith, and Vladislav Yeryomenko as notables in the system.

Tomas Vomacka is the Predators top goalie prospect. He is playing for UConn in the NCAA. They also have Konstantin Volkov who continues to play in Russia. Miroslav Svoboda should be in Milwaukee this year. Nicholas Westerholm was recently signed.

Main Photo:
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