Sunday, February 7, 2010

Predators Prospect Snap Shot

NHL hockey made its debut in Music City, USA in the fall of 1998. To date, the franchise has had very little success; the Preds have only qualified for the playoffs 4 times and have never actually won a series in the post season. They still have the same coach they did on day one, Barry Trotz, a respected hockey mind that has always tried to do the best with what he's had to work with.

While the Predators have struggled for the most part, a steady stream of young talent continues to give their fan base reason to be optimistic. Scouting has been a definite strong point for the franchise since their inception.

Here is a look at the top prospects in the system of the Nashville Predators...

Top Forward: Colin Wilson
Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
HT: 6'1 WT: 215 lbs. Stats: 34GP 11-17-28 Pts.

He was my dark horse pick for the Calder Trophy at the start of the year but thanks to a groin injury during training camp, Colin Wilson isn't going to appear on the ballot. The good news for Preds fans though is that Wilson is finally looking like the player everyone believed he would when healthy. Right now the former Hobey Baker finalist is red-hot with 17 points in his last 8 games with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals. The power forward has been held off the score sheet only 5 times in 2010, a span of 18 games and he has 23 points in that time. There really isn't a lot missing from Wilson's game - he's got size, strength, speed and the talent to contribute offensively. It's only a matter of time until he's a mainstay in the NHL. (Photo: Scott Paulus/

Top Defenceman: Jonathon Blum
Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
HT: 6'1 WT: 180 lbs Stats: 51GP 5-19-24 Pts.

By the end of his WHL career, Jonathon Blum was regarded as the top blueliner in the CHL. The native Californian had 66 points last year with the Vancouver Giants and has successfully made the transition to the pro ranks this year in the American League. Blum's 24 points is second best among defencemen on the Admirals roster but the rookie's +12 rating sets him apart from the rest of that same group in Milwaukee. Average in size but with sensational skating ability and hockey smarts make Blum one of the more impressive rearguard prospect waiting for his chance at the NHL. (Photo: AHL Images)

Top Goalie: Chet Pickard
Milwaukee Admirals (AHL)
HT: 6'3 WT: 214 lbs. Stats: 13-8-2 2.70 GAA .896 SV%

Like Blum, goalie Chet Pickard's junior career ended last season with the Manitoba product collecting hardware as the top player in his position. Pickard was named the WHL goalie of the year after a fantastic 4-year run with the Tri-City Americans which saw him lose a total of just 43 of 169 games. Pickard is sharing time in Milwaukee with Mark Dekanich, a 5th round pick from 2006 who has slightly better all around numbers than he does. (Photo: AHL Images)

Most Underrated: Gabriel Bourque
Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
HT: 5'9 WT: 183 lbs. Stats: 38GP 14-28-42 Pts.

When Hockey Canada released their roster of camp invites for the World Junior tryouts they held in December, few people looked at Gabriel Bourque as a lock to make the team. Yet after a strong first half of the season in Baie-Comeau followed by an attention grabbing Subway Super Series performance, Bourque's stock was elevated to "dark horse" and sure enough, he did crack the WJC team. Bourque's tenacity should help him carve out a role as a pro, potentially at the NHL level. He's an aggravating player for opponents and may evolve his game to become a classic pest that can also contribute some offence from time to time. At the CHL trade deadline he was dealt to the Moncton Wildcats, one of the contending teams in the QMJHL. (Photo: Jeff Vinnick/IIHF-HHOF Images)

Buzz Worthy: Roman Josi
Bern (SWI)
HT: 6'1 WT: 183 lbs Stats: 24GP 9-11-20 Pts.

It's not 100 percent certain just yet but the chances of the Swiss d-man playing in the 2010 Winter Olympics appears to be all but gone. Josi has not played a game since breaking his finger during play at the 2010 World Junior Championship in Saskatoon and it was reported this past Wednesday that Swiss head coach Ralph Kruger was not planning to include Josi in the team's plans during the pre-Olympic exhibition games. Before the injury at the WJC there was some talk that Josi might be headed to North America next year and may potentially be able to bypass the AHL and step right in with the Predators. (Photo: EQ Images)

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