The Preds wrapped up their 2011 draft with three picks -- one defenseman and two forwards -- and a trade during the final three rounds of the draft.
In the fifth round the Preds selected Swedish defenseman Simon Karlsson. The Preds European scouts have a knack for unearthing hidden gems in the later rounds. Karlsson went through a major growth spurt over the last 12 months, growing from around 5-11 to 6-3. Swedish scout Lucas Bergman compares his game to current Preds defenseman Cody Franson and as he grows into his now 6-3 frame, Bergman thinks Karlsson can become a special player.
In the sixth round the Preds tabbed U.S. forward Chasen Balisy from Western Michigan University. Balisy's Jeff Blashill said, "Chase has an elite mind for the game. I think his hockey smarts and his hockey IQ are outstanding. I thought that he had gotten stronger and quicker over the course of the season. That added strength and quickness allowed Chase to be a real elite freshman. And I think as he continues to add that strength and quickness, it will allow him to be an elite player in college and have a great chance at becoming an NHL player."
The Preds traded their second sixth round pick to the NY Rangers for a 2012 sixth rounder. And then in the seventh round, Nashville selected 6-2, 200-pound forward Brent Andrews of the QMJHL. Regarded as one of the QMJHL's best faceoff aces and toughest defensive centers, Andrews turned heads with his solid two-way performances for Team Canada at the World Under-18 Championships. He was on a below average Halifax team, so his stats are not indicative of the on-ice level he provided for the Mooseheads.
Check back later today for more recap and reaction from the draft floor.
OK, here's the scoop on the Preds two picks in the fourth round.
Josh Shalla is a big time offensive player --- natural scorer with good size. He went undrafted last year, his first draft-eligible year, and exploded this season for 47 goals, good for fifth in the OHL during the '10-11 regular season. He then added eight goals and 15 points in 12 playoff games for Saginaw. It's rare to see a player with those credentials would slid to the fourth round, but sometimes late-blooming kids in their second/third turn through the draft slide further than expected. But he gives the Preds a pure goal scorer in the system, something that could be a good element with the depth of solid two-way forwards already working through the ranks.
Garrett Noonan is in a similar situation to Shalla. Noonan was in his third trip through the draft. His a more mature player and still has three more college seasons to develop before the Preds would need to sign him. With Nashville's organizational depth at defense, the Preds can afford to be patient and wait for him to play out his college career.
The Preds elected to trade back from the No. 82 pick, stricking a deal with the LA Kings to add a sixth round pick this year (No. 170) as well as a 2012 third round pick (orginially belonging to Toronto). This move still gives the Preds eight selections in this year's draft, but also adds a key piece for next year's draft.
The scouts really like some of the depth later in the draft, but many of the players they had targeted with this third round selection were picked earlier in the round. David Poile doesn't like to reach for players, so instead of grabbing a player the scouts don't rate as a third round value, he's comfortable swapping back to future drafts ... at the worst case, future picks give him more trade bait to work with during the season.
Now Nashville will turn its sights to pick No. 94.
Round 2 went pretty close to plan for the Preds --- in scouting meetings earlier in the week the scouts had targeted Magnus Hellberg at No. 38 and were hoping that Miikka Salomaki would fall to the No. 52 pick.
Hellberg was the first goaltender selected in this year's draft. The Preds scouts compare him favorably to Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback at the same time in their development. Physically he looks similar to Lindback and has the same laid-back demeanor as Rinne and Lindback.
Salomaki is the other end of the spectrum; a physical high-engery skilled forward who plays much bigger than his 5-11 size. The European scouts compare his physicality to a Tuomo Ruutu, with the potential to post better offensive numbers. He can play on any line --- in an offensive role higher in the lineup or as a physical momentum-changer lower in the lineup --- and in both power-play and penalty kill situations. With experience playing against men in the Finnish Elite League, Salomaki has the potential to contribte to the Preds lineup in the next couple of seasons.
Back here at the Xcel Center set up for Day 2. The Preds open the day with eight selections, including two in the second round. We're around 10 minutes away from getting started here.
Quick note, ran in to original Preds captain Tom Fitzgerald --- now working with Pittsburgh. He reflected fondly on his time in Nashville and wanted us to give a big shout out to all the fans back in Smashville.
Day 1 of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft came to a close. The Preds were the subject of trade rumors a couple of times on Friday --- just prior to the start of the draft there were rumors of inquiries from teams in the top-10 (but the Preds felt the asking price was too high) and then late in Round 1 the Preds were actively pursuing trade options, but were unable to find a willing taker. David Poile talked about trade talks and more in his Day 1 Recap interview (click here). As a point of reference the 22nd overall pick was traded for the 30th and 39th slots ... Nashville's earliest pick is No. 38. And then the No. 24 pick was moved for the 35th and 48th selections ... No. 35 is close to Nashville's first pick (No. 38) and No. 48 is close to Nashville's second pick (No. 52), but close wasn't enough. And once the price tag was set, other teams were looking for similar payoffs; the Preds just didn't own two picks that were quite attractive enough to get into the late first round.
There's a chance options could become available to move up earlier in the second round --- the Preds scouts have shown that in the past sliding up in a trade after Day 1 in 2001 to get Jordin Tootoo early on Day 2 and sliding up after Day 1 in 2008 to nab Roman Josi early in Round 2 --- so don't be shocked if Nashville slides up closer to the top of the second round tomorrow morning. The Preds scouts are meeting this evening back in the team hotel and those options are surely to be among the first topics discussed. But in chats with the Preds scouting staff, they are very encouraged by the way Day 1 played out and are high on the options they feel should be available to them at both the No. 38 and No. 52 slots. The No. 82 pick (Nashville's third-round selection) is a little further away, so projections take a little more guess work, but with the depth of this year's draft, the scouts are still pretty confident that they will have impressive options at 82.
Trade talks heated up there during the picks in the mid-20's ... several calls came in to the Preds draft table. The scouts huddled up to disect the offers a few times, but in the end declined. It looks like the Preds will probably stand pat tonight with the eight Day 2 picks on the horizon tomorrow.
We'll talk to David Poile for an evening recap after Round 1 wraps to find out more about today's action.
We're almost done with the first round -- two more picks remaining -- and still no goaltenders selected. Many scouting services called this a down year for goalies, but still surprising to see the draft go this far without one tabbed.
The count so far 17 forwards, 11 defensemen.
With the Rangers selection done, we're now half-way through the first round. After forwards dominated the top of the draft, there's been a mini-run on defensemen, with blueliners going in five of the last seven picks. So far nine forwards and six defensemen off the board --- still waiting on the first goaltender.
Things have been quiet on the trade front. It's a little strange to see a draft go this deep without any picks traded on the floor. The Preds table has been really quiet, not too many calls or conversations.
Winnipeg came up to the draft podium with the No. 7 overall pick and unveiled both their selection and their new team name ... the Jets are back in the NHL! (Drawing a huge roar from the vocal group of fans who made the trip from Manitoba to Minnesota).
The run on forwards has continued at the start of the draft. So far six of the first seven picks have been forwards.
Ryan Strome (Central Scouting's No. 8 North American skater), Mika Zibanejad (No. 2 European skater), and Mark Scheifele (No. 16 North American skater) went fifth through seventh.
No real surprises in the first four picks. The consensus three best forwards all went off the board -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Gabriel Landeskog, and Jonathan Huberdeau -- as well as the consensus top defenseman -- Adam Larsson.
Starting with Pick 5, things should now get a little more interesting; the draft experts were pretty much all in agreement that those four would go in the top-5, but after them the opinions were much more diverse.