Thursday, June 23, 2011

NHL Draft Preview: Preds Edition

The 2011 NHL Draft begins on Friday in St. Paul, Minnesota. It's where the dreams of hundreds of young men are realized, and the path toward their respective NHL journeys begin.

Nashville does not currently have a pick in the 1st round of this year's draft. That 21st overall pick now belongs to the Ottawa Senators in consequence to the Preds' acquisition of Mike Fisher in February.

In the 2nd round, the Predators have the 38th overall pick, and the 52nd overall pick. The 38th overall selection in the 2nd round came from the New Jersey Devils when the Preds traded Jason Arnott to New Jersey last summer in a deal that brought Matt Halischuk to Nashville.

David Poile and his staff have been notably focused on the defensive aspect of the game in year's past. I expect this year's draft to be focused on the two-way type of players that Barry Trotz likes to have in his system. Sure, Nashville is looking for defensively sound players, but Poile will be looking to find people who can score goals.

According to Adam Kimelman, in his interview with nashvillepredators.com, players like Shane Prince and Matt Puempel could be on the Predators radar.

Prince played for Ottawa 67's of the OHL and put up 25 goals and 63 assists in just 59 games last season. He's listed at 5 ft 11 and weighs in at 185 pounds. He's not a huge guy, but he's certainly not going to be pushed around. The most impressive stat, in my mind, is that Prince was a plus-43. He's a fast skater and has good hockey sense. Poile and his staff will be taking a long look at Prince if he's still available at the 38th slot.

Puempel played for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL, which is the same team that Nashville's 1st round pick of 2010 Austin Watson played for. It's likely that Nashville knows a great deal about Puempel because of the time spent watching Watson. Puempel is listed at 6 ft 0 tall and weighs in at 190 pounds.

Nashville also has picks at 52, 82, 94(from Florida), 112, 142, 172, and 202. Trades and shifts in the order can happen, and probably will happen, throughout the course of the draft. It's a safe bet that the Preds are going to be looking for offensive talent simply because that's really the only thing they need. Defensively, Nashville is one of the best teams in the NHL. Now, they have to find the scoring touch to go with it.

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