A lot of people really hated the mustard jerseys that Nashville brought out a while back but I'm in the minority group that actually didn't mind the change. I still like this version of the big cat better than the skeletal one I've seen out there. I can understand why the mustard was rejected by so many but you have to admit, they stood out for being unique.
1st pick last year: Ryan Ellis (Windsor, OHL) Ellis saw his production drop off by 10 goals and 28 points this year, while only playing 48 games due to a wrist injury. His booming shot wasn’t as effective because of it. However he still put up 61 points in 48 games. He was okay at the World Juniors and Memorial Cup, but not as good as he was a year ago. Nashville has such a stacked blueline, Ellis can be hidden and will be able to produce on the power play.
The Good: Patric Hornqvist (230th overall, 2005) Next year, the name on this list will surely be Colin Wilson and he would have been this year if it wasn’t for a break out season from Patric Hornqvist. 30 goals is a career for most 7th round picks, but that’s what the 5.11 Swede put up in his first full NHL season, while adding 21 assists. He led Nashville in goals and was tied with Steve Sullivan for points. Hornqvist was the last player take in 2005, and out of 230 players is 29th when it comes to games played, which is the definition of a value pick.
The Bad: Niko Snellman (105th overall, 2006) Okay…I’m getting really picky here singling out a guy who was a 4th round pick, but he’s the closest thing to a bust for Nashville in the last 5 years. He played 32 games with Regina and put up 10 points and at last report was playing back home in Finland.
The Unknown: Roman Josi (38th overall, 2008) It will be interesting to see how Josi pans out, after a whirlwind year for the Swiss blueliner. He played in the World Juniors, was named to the Olympic team but couldn’t play due to an injury, and represented his country at the World Championship. All while leading SC Bern win a Swiss league regular season title. Nashville signed him last month and he should be in Milwaukee next year. How he handles the rough and tumble AHL will be something to watch for.
Coming Down the Pipe: What doesn’t Nashville have in the future? A power forward in Colin Wilson who was great in the AHL with 34 points in 40 games this year, while chipping in 15 in 35 games with Nashville. They have a heady blueliner in Jonathan Blum who’s as calm as they come on the ice, and a future starting goalie in Chet Pickard who played 34 games in the AHL this year. All 3 will be knocking on the door next year.
Draft Trends: Nashville doesn’t discriminate much at all at the draft table, taking players from every CHL league, the USHL, NCAA and Europe. Ok so they aren’t that keen on taking Russians after Alexander Radulov flew the coop, and I won’t expect them to break that trend this year, but they make use of area scouts quite a bit, listening to everyone’s input.
Dean MIllard: Beau Bennett (Pencticton) - If the Preds take Bennett it will be the head scratcher of the first round as most publications don’t have him ranked in the top 30, but Nashville likes him. Scoring goals is Bennett’s business, as he sniped 41 times in the BCHL this year. His 120 points was one shy of what Kyle Turris put up in his final junior A season. Like Turris, Bennett is NCAA bound as he’ll join Denver University this year. The main draw back on Bennett is his lack of strength and weight, but a few years at college could cure that. Bennett at 18 might be a stretch for some people, but the Predators have loads of prospects, meaning they can wait for him to develop.
Guy Flaming: John McFarland (Sudbury) - At this time last year McFarland was considered a top 10, possibly top 5, 2010 talent. A pretty forgettable year in Sudbury has seen his stock drop over the last several months yet some I've talked to believe he's better than his ho-hum numbers suggest. While with Canada at the Ivan Hlinka he was terrific and going back to the 2009 U18s in North Dakota he was one of the under-aged stars of the show. He might not be the marquee talent at the next level but just a really good complimentary player.
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