The Nashville Predators are a team built to win.
Boasting a wealth of elite-level talent and depth throughout their entire roster, the Predators will enter the 2018-19 NHL campaign with a legitimate shot to return to the Stanley Cup Final. However, Nashville’s window to win could be relatively short-lived, as the franchise appears to own few prospects capable of making an impact at hockey’s highest level in the immediate future.
In fact, outside of an elite-level forward and an immensely talented defender, the Predators’ prospect pipeline stands remarkably thin.
Stanley Cups: None
2017-18 Record: 53-18-11; 117 Points
2017-18 Top Scorer: Filip Forsberg; 26G, 38A, 64PTS
Farm System Grade: C-
Top 10 Prospects:
- Eeli Tolvanen
- Dante Fabbro
- Frederic Allard
- Alexandre Carrier
- Anthony Richard
- Patrick Harper
- Yakov Trenin
- Rem Pitlick
- David Farrance
- Emil Pettersson
The State of the Predators’ Farm System
As mentioned above, the Predators’ prospect pool stands relatively thin. Although NHL-caliber players do exist, Nashville will need to focus on drafting and developing young talent if the franchise hopes to attain sustained success.
Leading Nashville’s future is the uber-talented Eeli Tolvanen, a native of Vihti, Finland who was nothing other than a steal in the 2017 NHL Draft.
Nabbed by the Predators with the 30th overall selection in the event, Tolvanen is a highly skilled and lethal winger who — in hindsight — should have been chosen within the top-10 overall. A purposeful skater with electrifying hands and a blistering shot, Tolvanen can devise plays as well as blast the puck on-goal owing to his ample versatility.
Endlessly creative and consistently confident, Tolvanen boasts the potential of a future first-line player at the NHL-level. With one dominant season of professional play in the KHL already under his belt, the biggest question facing Tolvanen and his future will be his ability to adjust to the North American professional game.
Sure, he skated in the USHL for two seasons prior to his selection by Nashville, however, Tolvanen’s inaugural campaign in the AHL this season will serve as a significant indicator of his ultimate potential.
In addition to Tolvanen, the Predators boast an immensely talented and composed defender in Dante Fabbro. Team captain of Boston University this season, Fabbro is a former first round selection of Nashville whose development has been strong and steady. A devastating defensive player, Fabbro also plays a lethal role in the offensive zone and is poised and lethal on the power play, too.
Currently in the midst of his third season of NCAA play, Fabbro plays a professional-style of game with game-breaking potential to boot. Although he could play a full four seasons with the Terriers, it goes without saying that Fabbro will be an NHL-ready defenceman when he signs his entry-level contract with the team.
However, outside of these two studs, the Predators’ farm system is remarkably bare.
Rounding out the best of the team’s top-10 are the likes of Frederic Allard, Alexandre Carrier, and Anthony Richard.
In these three, Nashville boasts two defencemen and a forward all currently competing with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. In Allard and Carrier, the Predators feature two QMJHL alumni with track-records of impressive offensive production. Then, in Richard, the Predators gloat a late-round pick from the 2015 NHL Draft whose offensive game has continued to improve on a yearly basis.
Ultimately, while both Tolvanen and Fabbro will play significant roles for the team in the near future, arguably none of the Predators’ secondary prospects are of NHL-caliber. Now, although this reality could certainly change in the coming years as a result of greater development, it is abundantly clear that Nashville must strengthen its prospect pool.
One Predators Prospect to Watch
Given the limits of the Predators’ farm system, one of Nashville’s prospects worth keeping an eye on is also one of its most promising.
In Fabbro, the Predators hold a dynamic defenceman who will undoubtedly play a crucial role in Nashville long into the future.
Standing 6-feet tall and weighing in at 190-pounds, Fabbro is a prospect of decent size who could one day play a game eerily similar to that of P.K. Subban. Although he will need to strengthen his frame, Fabbro’s creativity and confidence with the puck are eerily similar to that of Subban’s, and remarkably consistent too.
As a premier offensive defenceman within the NCAA who has also played a critical role for Team Canada at the annual World Junior Championship, Fabbro boasts a winning pedigree and the determination to ensure team success. A natural leader despite his young age, Fabbro should progress into a pillar of power for the Predators — a franchise which already owns one of the NHL’s strongest and deepest blue lines.