Sunday, June 26, 2011

Predators Draft Review

The Nashville Predators were busy on the second day of the NHL Entry Draft, making seven selections. The Predators did not have a first round pick by virtue of sending that pick to Ottawa for the Mike Fisher trade in the previous season.

The Predators used the draft to pick a goal tender, 4 forwards, and 2 defensemen. Here is a look at the picks.

Magnus Hellberg     G     6'5"     185 lbs     20 years old

With the 38th pick, the Predators added another gigantic goalie for Predators goaltending coach Mitch Korn to mold into a quality NHL stopper. Although he was unranked by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, he was ranked second by International Goalies. He played for Almtuna IS of the Swedish second division and was the first goalie taken in the draft. In the past season, he had a .936 save percentage and a 2.04 GAA in 31 appearances. He will play for Frolunda of the Swedish Elite League next season. The addition of Hellberg adds depth to the Predators organization at the netminder position.

Miikka Salomaki     LW     5'11'     198 lbs     18 years old

Salomaki caught the attention of scouts with his performance in the World Juniors. He has been described as a physical, gritty winger with good offensive upside. His strength is an asset, and he is strong on the puck. He has been compared to Tuumo Ruutu in his style of play. Salomaki had 10 points (4G-6A) in 40 games in the Finnish Elite League as a 17 year old rookie.

Josh Shalla               LW     6'1"     202 lbs     19 years old

Shalla played for the Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League last season and notched 47 goals in 68 games. Shalla is a big body that has play making skills and a quick release. Shalla has the ability to get the puck to the net and fend off defenders with his size. His skating is considered the area that needs to improve.

Garrett Noonan       D     6'0"     200 lbs     20 years old

Noona just completed his freshman season at Boston University, where he tallied 15 points (4G-11A) in 38 games. Noonan will return to the Terriers for his sophomore season next year. Noonan is considered a solid, two way defenseman that will have an opportunity to refine his game at the college level.

Simon Karlsson       D     6'2"     178 lbs     18 years old

Karlsson played for Sweden's Malmo Redhawks, finishing the year with their under 18 squad this past season. He had 21 points (10G-11A) in 15 games at that level for Malmo. He is said to have a very good hockey IQ and good skating and puck handling skills.It is expected that he will grow into his frame and has the potential to be a solid defenseman at the NHL level.

Chase Balisy          C        5'11"     178 lbs     19 years old

Balisy just completed his freshman year at Western Michigan University, where he was named to the CCHA All Rookie team and a Freshman All American by Inside College Hockey. Balisy had 30 points (12G-18A) in 42 games for the Broncos. Balisy added strength and size as a freshman, and is expected to continue to get stronger as he plays next year at Western Michigan.

Brent Andrews       LW     6"2"     200 lbs     18 years old

Andrews played for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL last season, and had 29 points (12G-17A) in 68 games. Andrews has been compared to David Legwand, currently on the Predators roster, as a tough, defensive forward that can contribute some goals. His coaches believe that he has yet to develop all of his upside potential on offense.

Once again, the Predators have shown a commitment to their strategy in the draft: selecting character players that demonstrate an ability to contribute offensively and have a strong defensive work ethic. Each player drafted will have to continue to develop their game to get to the NHL level, and this plays well into the Predators system  of patiently developing talent.

There isn't a player that was drafted that will make an immediate impact like Jeff Skinner did last season for the Carolina Hurricanes. For a fan, this can be frustrating. Yet the Predators have demonstrated time and again that allowing players to develop in their farm system yields quality results. This is the advantage of having depth in the system- players have the time to physically develop; refine their game; and develop off the ice.

This is the benefit of having a Director of Player Development like Martin Gelinas. A consummate professional during his playing days, Gelinas has the insight into what it takes to succeed in the League and will have the opportunity to work with his young charges to chart a course to the NHL.

The 2011 Entry Draft demonstrated once again the consistency of the Predators philosophy of building and reinforcing a strong organization.

It's the Predator Way.

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