The Predators decided to get a bit offensive (haha haha please tell me you laughed) in this year’s draft by selecting four forwards and only two defenseman. The Predators chose to select a very large winger with their first round pick. A bulky winger is something they have needed to draft since the unfortunate departure of Scotty Hartnell. I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Austin Watson (and his family) to the Predators’ family. We may not be large in number, but we certainly take care of our own.
Watson does pretty much everything. He plays PP minutes, PK, and saw his ice time rise when he was traded to Peterborough from Windsor. While Watson may not light it up like Skinner or Hall, he possesses good hands and enough hockey IQ to be a very dependable two way player. Watson posted an average of two points a game for Peterborough! Hopefully that scoring touch can translate to the NHL. It has been noted by many scouts that Watson has a very level of energy and isn’t afraid to block shots. This is truly a team player which means he probably had Nashville tattooed on his forehead before he was even drafted by this organization.
With the 3rd round pick, Poile elected to take medium sized defenseman (surprise) in Taylor Aronson. While Aronson hasn’t but it all together, Poile rarely misses on defensemen from the WHL. Aronson has great offensive instincts, but he needs to make better choices without the puck. I think he is still at least a few years out not only physically, but also mentally. Some people have questioned his commitment to the game. It is unlike Poile to draft these kinds of characters (Radulov comes to mind as a reason NOT to) so he must have seen something in Aronson. Not exactly thrilled with this pick, but Poile rarely gets defensemen wrong. I am not going to question him.
Nashville’s 5th round pick was Patrick Cehlin. This kid is a speedy but needs to bulk up (5’11, 180ish) if he is going to get to the NHL. While he is only eighteen, he put up 11 points (5G) in 54 games playing in the Elitserien. That isn’t too bad considering he is playing against fully grown men. This could be a sleeper.
Nashville’s 6th rounder was Anthony Bitetto. Wish I knew more about the kid, but sadly I must profess I know very little about him. What I do know is he has good size (6’1 210) and leadership qualities. Anthony Bitetto was a 2009-10 All-USHL Second Team selection. He finished the season with 40 points in 58 games, good for fourth among USHL defensemen. I’m pretty pleased with this pick.
Nashville had two seventh round picks that brought in Joonas Rask (yes little brother to Boston’s Tuukka Rask) and David Elsner. Both of these guys are considered penalty killing machines (Rask with speed, Elsner with size). I like the picks.
Congrats to all. Welcome to the family.
Now I would like to turn my attention to the Predators’ roster for next season. I talked to a member of the team this past weekend and was able to figure a few things out based on his answers.
1. Nashville will look to get scoring help via free agency. The budget probably allows for a center or winger somewhere between 1.5-2.5 million.
2. Grebs will NOT be signed.
3. Hornqvist is close to getting qualified. Nashville fans can breath a little bit easier.
4. J.P. Dumont will most likely remain a Predator unless he chooses not to be. I don’t really understand what that means, but my source didn’t want to discuss the matter any further than that.
5. Poile firmly believes that his defense is ready to go for next season.
6. Probably will get a veteran net minder to back up Rinne.
So there are some interesting things for ya’ll to consider.
So here is what I expect the roster to look like for next year
Sullivan – Wilson – Erat
Hornqvist – Legwand – Dumont
Ward – Goc – Free agent (Cheechoo, Kotalik, Stempniak, Afinogenov,) etc.
Smithson – Spaling – Tootoo
Weber – Suter
Klein – Boullion
Franson – Parent
So my question is… if you were the Predators… what would you do to improve this team? Who would you target during the offseason who is in that price range and why?
Until then, take care Pred fans!
About the Author
Written by Chris Rydburg
Chris currently attends my Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. He hopes to one day be a high school teacher.