Naples, Fla. -- For the second consecutive day, the Nashville Predators took to the ice at Germain Arena in Naples, Fla. Much like the practices in Nashville, the team was divided into three different groups (blue, white and silver), and spent time working on odd-man rushes, two-on-two battles and special teams.
|Pekka Rinne during drills at Germain Arena in Naples, Fla.|
Despite playing games on Monday night, Tuesday’s practice had the up-tempo pace that we’ve come to expect from the 2013 Training Camp. Players were put through a series of drills and worked with coaches on the finer points of their respective games. Following practice, the team completed a dry-land workout before heading back to hotel for an afternoon team building meeting.
A random appearance at Tuesday morning’s practice was retired NHL defenseman Brian Rafalski, formerly of the New Jersey Devils and Detroit Red Wings. Rafalski, who lives in the Naples area and coaches youth hockey, spent time watching practice and talking with Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton, before visiting with a couple of players.
Wednesday, Sept. 18
Wednesday morning’s session opened as Goaltending Coach Mitch Korn worked to fine tune the games of the eight goalies in camp. The goalie session was short, but mirrored the pace of full practice as the goalies knocked out a series of drills in short order.
| Shea Weber shows off a red snapper during the fishing trip
Two-time Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne has looked sharp while on the ice – making save after save during drills without any evidence of lingering issues or fatigue. Rinne has made a lot of progress since stepping on the ice just a few weeks ago, and according the line-up for tonight’s game in Tampa, the 6-5 Finn will be in net for the first time this preseason.
Once the players finished up on Wednesday, they embarked on an afternoon backwater fishing excursion near Ft. Myers. The three-hour fishing derby consisted of 17 boats with a veteran, a couple of rookies and a local guide each. All boats returned safely to shore, but sunburns were plentiful among the group. Prizes were award in several categories with Mike Fisher’s boat taking home the grand prize for most fish caught with 22. There were rumors of a shark being caught by one of the team’s, but there was no supporting evidence.
Thursday, Sept. 19
This morning’s practice was a light affair compared to the previous two days in Naples. The non-playing group spent an hour on the ice before heading back to the hotel to pack for Tampa. The playing team met with Strength and Conditioning Coach David Good in the hotel’s fitness center for a brief morning workout before heading to lunch and the bus to Tampa.
The Predators take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at 6:30 p.m. CT. Stay tuned to nashvillepredators.com and on Twitter (@PredsNHL) for in-game updates.
Score: Silver 2, Blue 1
Goal Scorers: Weber (blue), Beck (Silver), Nystrom (Silver)
Shea Weber– The Predators captain didn’t waste time during Saturday morning’s scrimmage, beating goaltender Allen York with a slapshot from the slot just minutes into the game. Weber brought his usual offensive prowess and physicality to the abbreviated game. He and Ryan Ellis spent the entire scrimmage as a pairing.
Wilson–Cullen–Stalberg – The line of Colin Wilson, Matt Cullen and Viktor Stalberg spent the majority of the 60-minute scrimmage playing together. Speed is the first thing that comes to mind when watching these three play together. Wilson has shown a level of speed not previously seen from the fourth-year forward, while Stalberg’s speed – one of the main reasons the Preds went after him this offseason – was very apparent. Cullen centered the line and was able to set up Wilson and Stalberg on several scoring chances.
Taylor Beck– Beck evened the score with a breakaway goal midway through the first 30-minute session. He was able to break away from the blue defenders with a nice feed from Filip Forsberg, and showed good speed and nice stickhandling ability on the goal. Beck has been impressive thus far, most frequently playing on a line with Mike Fisher and Patric Hornqvist.
Seth Jones – The 6-5, 210-pound defenseman picked up where he left off on Friday afternoon, controlling the game from his own end and showing poise beyond his years. Jones once again showed the agility and escapability he possesses by side-stepping several checks and making good outlet passes.
Marek Mazanec– The Czech-born goaltender continued to be impressive on Saturday afternoon, turning away every shot faced in the second 30-minute session. Mazanec was also solid during the postgame shootout. As mentioned yesterday, Mazanec still needs time to adjust to the North American game, but fans should be excited about seeing the netminder in Nashville in the future.
Pekka Rinne – In just his second full practice, Rinne looked like himself, which is a good sign for Preds fans everywhere. He was sharp, agile and quick when attacking the puck during limited drills and the scrimmage. The Kempele, Finland native played the first 20 minutes and did not allow a goal. His conditioning didn’t seem to play a factor in his ability to stop the puck and he returned to the ice immediately following the scrimmage to work with Goaltending Coach Mitch Korn. As I wrote in the Training Camp questions blog, Preds fans should expect Rinne to get more rest during camp to ensure he is ready to go come opening night.
Seth Jones – Nashville’s first pick in this year’s draft continues to play as advertised. During the scrimmage, Jones seemed poised and was solid in his own end. Playing against much faster and more skilled competition than he is accustomed to for the first time didn’t seem to faze him – he was able to use his size and foot speed to gain position on veteran skaters like David Legwand and Paul Gaustad. Each time Jones steps on the ice it becomes more apparent why he was such a draft-day steal for the Predators .
Clune-Gaustad-Hendricks – The line of Rich Clune, Gaustad and Matt Hendricks saw a lot of time together during this afternoon’s scrimmage, and tallied the first goal of the White vs. Silver game. While this line isn't expected to produce big numbers, they were the grittiest of the bunch today. Clune made sure to hit every player not wearing silver, while there seemed to be no ill-effects from Gaustad’s offseason shoulder surgery.
Marek Mazanec – Opposite Rinne, rookie netminder Marek Mazanec looked very sharp in net, making a number of big saves in front of on-looking General Manager David Poile. While the Czech-born goalie is still learning the North American style of play, he displayed poise and agility during his 20-minute on-ice session.
Mattias Ekholm– A season in Milwaukee seems to have done the big Swede some good. Ekholm was easily recognizable not only from his size, but from his ability to effortlessly transition the game from the defensive end.
Brendan Leipsic – The feisty winger from the Portland Winterhawks was tenacious during the scrimmage. He wasn’t afraid to attack the hard areas of the ice and he was able to create separation with speed and stick handling. While he did not score during the first scrimmage, it is easy to see why he led the Western Hockey League in points last season. Due to his age, Leipsic will have to return to Portland if he does not make the NHL squad after camp, but fans should be excited for what this 19-year-old brings to prospect stable.
The Preds will scrimmage on Saturday at 12:45 p.m., and again on Sunday at 12:45 p.m.
My two-part series looking at the six major questions facing the Nashville Predators during training camp this season.
Click here to see Part 1
What to do with all the flexibility up the middle?
With Mike Fisher, David Legwand, Paul Gaustad and Nick Spaling already on the roster for the upcoming season, it will be up to Head Coach Barry Trotz to see how six players who are capable of playing center will fit into his roster opening night.
Fisher and Legwand have been Nashville’s top centers dating back to the acquisition of Fisher in February 2011. Fisher tallied 21 points (10g-11a) and posted a team-high +6 rating on the year (tied with Gabriel Bourque). Legwand led the team in goals (12) and ranked second in scoring during the 2012-13 campaign with 25 (12g-13a) on the year.
Health is the number one question facing Gaustad going into the season after a nagging shoulder injury kept him out of all but 23 games in 2012-13. Despite the injury, Gaustad was on track to finish among the League’s top five players in face-off efficiency after winning 59.7 percent of his draws – his fourth consecutive season of ranking among the NHL’s top face-off men. If Gaustad can remain healthy, he will once again be a jack-of-all-trades, specializing in a wide variety of face-off scenarios, while seeing considerable time on the penalty kill.
Spaling figures to be the odd man out of the center race, but his youth and ability to play both center and wing make the Drayton, Ont., native an integral part of the 2012-13 roster. Look for Spaling to possibly make the move to wing to start the season, which leaves Trotz with a back-up plan throughout the season if injuries and other unforeseen circumstances crop up.
In Cullen, Nashville has a speedy veteran who, even at 36-years of age, is still capable of being a game-changer. A season ago in Minnesota, he posted 27 points (7g-20a). Much like Gaustad, Cullen has consistently found himself among the League leaders in face-off efficiency (53.2 percent in 2012-13) – his third consecutive season with such success.
Hendricks is another wild card in the center bunch. Like Spaling, Hendricks is comfortable playing both center and wing. Preds fans can expect Hendricks to line up at wing this season, but the flexibility still remains. In addition to bringing flexibility and grit to the line-up, Hendricks has also carved out a niche as a shootout specialist and will help the Preds improve in the post-overtime tiebreaker.
What’s next for Filip Forsberg?
In five games with Nashville this past season and throughout rookie camp, Filip Forsberg has shown that, despite a raw skill set, he has the potential to be a powerful force in the League for years to come.
Prior to crossing the pond in April, the 19-year-old won the Gold Cage Award as the Allsvenskan's junior player of the year after leading all junior players in goals, and ranking second in points (15g-18a-33pts) to fellow Preds prospect Pontus Aberg. During qualification, the Ostervala, Sweden native ranked second in goals and tied for eighth in points (5g-4a-9pts, 9gp), helping Leksand earn promotion to the Elite League.
Forsberg is still learning the North American style of play, but with the Preds offseason additions and the return of many injured players, he will be afforded the chance to develop in a second or third line role. But if the Predators’ brass believes he still needs to improve on certain aspects of his game before returning to the NHL, Forsberg will benefit from spending time in Milwaukee – an opportunity not afforded to North American-born players of his same age.
How the defensive pairings work out?
As in past seasons, if the Nashville Predators are anything, they are deep along the blue line. However, Nashville is looking to get grittier and more lethal among the rearguard.
Enter new assistant coach Phil Housley, a seven-time NHL All-Star, a finalist for the 1992 Norris Trophy and the second-leading American-born scorer in NHL history. The prevailing thought is that Housley, who was an undersized player during his time, will help Nashville’s young defenseman become more of an offensive threat, both during 5-on-5 play and on the power play, while solidifying their defensive game.
Beyond the top three of Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Kevin Klein, Nashville has Victor Bartley, Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm chomping at the bit to see increased roles with the NHL squad. The addition of top-rated defensive prospect Seth Jones also adds another layer to the group. Despite the potential upside of these young prospects, they are just that – young.
Bartley showed promise during his 24-game stint with the club last season. Bartley tallied seven assists, ranked fourth on the Predators in average ice time (19:32) and led Nashville d-men in plus/minus rating (+2) in 2012-13. He has shown that he is capable of taking on an increased role within the Predators system, but the question of where he slots in with fellow rookies remains to be seen.
Highly-touted defenseman Ryan Ellis has shown great offensive prowess and the ability to help transition the game, but his size and defensive play have left some questions during his time with the Preds. In 64 games at the NHL level, Ellis has tallied just five goals and 12 assists. Entering camp, Ellis will be given every chance to earn in place with the big club again, but the competition is more robust than it has been in years past.
Last season, Ekholm 27 points (9g-18a) in 55 games for the Admirals in 2012-13, his first full North American campaign and in addition to playing one game for the Predators. The Borlange, Sweden native has the size, skating ability and hockey IQ the Predators need along the blue line and this year’s training camp will be his chance to prove he’s ready to return to Nashville.
Jones, the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft, has been described as the most NHL-ready prospect for more than a year. The 6-4, 210-pound rearguard will have an opportunity to make the team out of camp, but Poile has made it clear that the 18-year-old must earn his roster position.
Outside of the seven players already discussed, Nashville has Bryan Rodney and Joe Piskula waiting in the wings. Rodney has posted 13 points (1g-12a) in 34 NHL games dating back to the 2008-09 season. Piskula, who the Predators acquired in the Brian McGrattan trade, has 10 games of NHL experience under his belt. In Milwaukee, Joonas Jarvinen – a 6-3, 212-pound Finn – has also been honing his North American game and could provide much-needed size and grit to Nashville’s blue line.
My two-part series looking at the six major questions facing the Nashville Predators during training camp this season.
Pekka Rinne’s hip and the back-up goalie?
In the biggest news of the Predators offseason, two-time Vezina Trophy finalist Pekka Rinne underwent hip arthroscopy surgery on May 8 at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. While Rinne remained on crutches for most of the summer, the 30-year-old netminder recently returned to the ice and began dropping into the butterfly position without issue.
Rinne has been the Predators’ backbone throughout the past four seasons, leading Nashville to consecutive second-round berths in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and back-to-back nominations as the League’s top goaltender in 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Rinne looks to be on pace to start the regular season for the Preds; however, he may need to sit out a couple of preseason games to guarantee his health and conditioning heading into the season. While Preds fans may not like the thought of Rinne seeing only limited action in the preseason, it will give the Nashville brass time to evaluate the back-up goaltender position.
Carter Hutton was brought in via free agency, and despite a solid American League career, he has just one game of NHL experience under his belt – a 3-1 loss to St. Louis in the 2012-13 season finale. Heading into training camp, head coach Barry Trotz has already named Hutton his back-up goaltender.
Hellberg was impressive down the stretch in Milwaukee last season, finishing 22-13-0 with six shutouts, a 2.14 goals-against average and .924 save percentage. While Hellberg fits the Preds mold for goalies – tall (6-6) and Scandinavian (Uppsala, Sweden) – he still has to prove to General Manager David Poile and his staff that he’s ready to take the next step when called upon.
Mazanec is entering his first season in North America after leading Plzen of the Czech Extraliga to the league title last season. The Pisek, Czech Republic native has played well during his first rookie camp, but training camp will give him his first action against NHL-caliber talent. We can expect Mazanec to begin the season in Milwaukee while he adjusts to the North American style of play.
Can Colin Wilson pick up where he left off?
Colin Wilson looked to have finally developed into the player Poile and his staff had hoped he’d become when they selected him seventh overall in 2008. He was leading the team with 19 points (7g-12a) through 25 games before a collision behind the net on March 9 against Minnesota ended the 23-year-old’s season. The injury came just one day after Wilson struck for a career-high four points (2g-2a) against the Edmonton Oilers.
Wilson’s injury required a double-shoulder stabilization surgery during the tail end of the 2012-13 campaign. He has since rehabbed and returned to the ice, taking contact in his most recent informal practices without issue.
Many foresee Wilson as Nashville’s X-factor this season. He has the size, skill and speed to be a top contributor for the Preds and the flashes he showed last season will definitely place him in a featured role with the offense.
Which Predators return to form?
Shea Weber – Although Weber led the team with 28 points (9g-19a) and averaged 25:55 of ice time a season ago, Nashville captain failed to be named a finalist for the Norris Trophy for the first time in three seasons. Weber’s skill set is vital to the Predators’ success and they need their captain to return to an All-Star level with such a young crop of defensemen on the roster.
Patric Hornqvist – Nashville’s most consistent and most recent 30-goal scorer will have to rebound from a couple of injuries that held him out of 24 games last season. In April, Nashville showed their faith in the Swedish winger with five-year contract, and they’ll need Hornqvist to improve upon their 29th ranking in goals per game in 2012-13.
Viktor Stalberg– Nashville’s first signing on July 5, Stalberg is fresh off a Stanley Cup winning season with the Chicago Blackhawks. Just two seasons removed from a 22-goal, 44-point campaign, Stalberg will break out of the third line role he saw in the Windy City and into a top-six role in the Music City. The increased ice time and responsibility should help the 27-year-old flourish with his new team.
Gabriel Bourque – The winger set a career high and tied for the team goals lead with 11 tallies, despite missing 14 games with a knee injury in 2012-13. In just 34 games, the Rimouski, Que., native nearly tied his career output from his first NHL season in 2011-12 (7g-12a-19pts-43gp). Bourque’s speed, skill and tenacity will be a welcomed asset among Nashville’s top-nine forwards.
On Friday morning, the NHL and NHLPA announced they will allow the participation of NHL players in the upcoming 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. With the agreement, NHL players from the 12 participating IIHF Member Nations will be available for the men's Olympic Ice Hockey Tournament (February 12-23, 2014).
The 2014 Sochi games mark the fifth consecutive time dating back to Nagano 1998 that NHL players have participated in the Olympics. More than 120 NHL players are expected to compete for their respective nations in Sochi.
After six Preds took the ice for the 2010 Vancouver Games, we take a look at the current Preds who may don their country’s colors in February.
Hornqvist has donned Tre Kronor six times in his career, including the 2010 Olympics, three World Championships, one World Juniors and one World Under-18 Championships.
In his most recent stint with home country at the 2012 World Championships, the Sollentuna, Sweden native was held scoreless in three outings. At the 2010 Winter Games, Hornqvist tallied one goal for Sweden on a play set up by his childhood idol and former Pred, Peter Forsberg.
In 32 international games since 2006-07, Hornqivst has recorded nine goals and six assists for the Swedes. He led Sweden and tied for second overall with six goals at the 2008 World Championships.
Some may consider Hornqvist to be an outside chance for Sochi, but with his ability to stir-up trouble in front of the net, the Swedes would be mistaken to leave him at home in February.
At the 2013 World Championships, Josi lead all defenseman in scoring with nine points (4g-5a) in 10 games. His performance earned him tournament Most Valuable Player honors, Best Defenseman and a 2013 World Championship All Star team nomination. The Bern, Switzerland native also became the first Swiss player to earn MVP honors at an IIHF tournament.
While Josi was held out of the 2010 Vancouver Games due to injury, he has taken to the ice for Switzerland in several international competitions since the 2007 World Junior Championships. Since being draft by Nashville in the third round of the 2008 Entry Draft, Josi has posted 27 points (10g-17a) in 47 games for the Swiss.
Coming off the best performance by a Swiss player in an international tournament, Josi is a lock for Sochi as the Swiss look to build off this summer’s success.
Rinne hasn’t joined Finland in international competition since the 2010 World Championships when he backstopped Suomi to a 2-2-0 record, with a 1.68 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. In 2009, Rinne posted a 4-2-0 record, with a 1.93 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage for Finland.
The Finns may field the best crop of goalies at the Sochi games and competition will be tight with emergence of San Jose’s Antti Niemi and Boston’s Tuukka Rask, but Rinne has proven that he can handle the travel and workload required of an Olympic goaltender.
Weber and Canada claimed Gold at the 2010 games after defeating the U.S. in overtime, and the Canadians will once again be the favorites heading into Sochi.
The 2010 Games were the last time Weber donned the Maple Leaf, where he was named to the tournament’s All-Star Team after tying for second among blueliners in points (2g-4a). One of the memorable moments from Weber’s 2010 Olympics came when he put a shot through the net against the Germans in preliminary round play.
Prior to the 2010 Olympics, the Sicamous, B.C., native played in both the 2007 and 2009 World Championships and the 2005 World Juniors. At the 2009 World Championships, Weber earned a silver medal and was named the tournament’s best defenseman after posting 12 points (4g-8a) in nine games. In 28 international games for the Canadians, Weber has tallied 20 points (7g-13a).
Nashville’s captain should be regarded as one of Canada’s best defenseman heading into the Sochi games. Look for him to form the Canadian’s top D-pairing in February alongside the likes of Chicago’s Duncan Keith or Los Angeles’ Drew Doughty.
Preds with a chance:
I'm a little late to the party on this one due to a couple of day off earlier this week, but here we go...
When the Predators arrived in Nashville no one could have expected the impact hockey would have on the culture of this southern city, nor on the children living within the greater Nashville area. There are now thousands of children playing the game of hockey in Middle Tennessee, and to this point, the player many of Nashville’s youth have aspired to is Blake Geoffrion.
On Monday, Geoffrion announced his retirement from the game of hockey following a head injury that has sidelined the third-year forward since November.
It was a humble beginning to what would become a decorated hockey career for the Brentwood native. He grew up just a short drive from Bridgestone Arena and honed his skills at Metro Park’s Centennial Sportsplex – a place where his name still hangs in the rafters because of his contributions to the game in Nashville.
When he outgrew the youth leagues here, Geoffrion moved on to bigger and better things – Culver Military Academy’s storied hockey program in Indiana, the United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor, Mich., and the University of Wisconsin, where he would go on to win the 2010 Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top player.
In 2006, Geoffrion’s path to the NHL was cast when Nashville’s President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile selected him in the second round of the NHL Entry Draft. For Geoffrion, playing in the NHL was almost inevitable. He comes from one of the most well-known bloodlines in all of professional hockey – his father Danny Geoffrion, grandfather Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion and his great-grandfather Howie Morenz all played for the Montreal Canadiens. “Boom Boom” and Morenz have nine Stanley Cups between them and are both enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame. When Blake donned the Predators sweater and took the ice for the first time on Feb. 26, 2011, he not only became the game’s first fourth-generation player, but the first Nashville-raised player to break into the NHL.
He would go on to post 11 points (6g-5a) in 42 games for the Predators – including a hat trick on March 20, 2011, where he scored all three goals in regulation on the way to a 4-3 OT win at Buffalo. He saw time in 22 games in 2011-12 before he was traded to Montreal – the place where it all began for the family – in the deal that brought defenseman Hal Gill to the Music City. Geoffrion played 13 games for the Habs in 2011-12, scoring two goals. This past season with Hamilton, Montreal’s AHL affiliate, he posted six points (4g-2a) in nine games prior to the injury.
While the 25-year old forward’s time was cut short, his impact on hockey in the greater Nashville area will be felt for years to come. The Nashville Predators would like to thank Blake Geoffrion for his commitment and contributions to the game of hockey. We wish him all the best in his future endeavors and in his new position as a professional scout for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Nashville Predators annual Development Camp officially opened this week, as 31 prospects from around the globe streamed into the Music City. The Preds use their annual development camp as a way to gauge the progress, both on and off the ice, of each player, while helping to educate the players on trends in the game, physical fitness, life skills and nutrition.
The 2013 Development Camp began on Monday as the players went through a series of physical fitness tests with the Preds staff, followed by their player physicals at Vanderbilt Medical Center.
The real test of the prospects abilities began on Tuesday morning with off-ice workouts and the first on-ice session of the week. Tuesday’s on-ice sessions were led by Nashville’s new director of player development Scott Nichol and skating coach Shawn Allard and focused on improving skating techniques and conditioning.
Highlighting this year’s camp are members of the both the 2012 and 2013 Draft classes, as 17 of the 31 prospects were selected during those Entry Drafts.
The first group of the day included this year’s first-round pick, Seth Jones. Even with the drills concentrated on skating work, it was easy to see why Jones was such a highly touted prospect this year. Also working in the first group were forwards Pontus Aberg (second round, 2012), Chase Balisy (sixth round, 2010), Felix Girard (fourth round, 2013), Josh Shalla (fourth round, 2011). Defenseman Anthony Bitetto (sixth round, 2010) and goaltender Magnus Hellberg (second round, 2011) also joined the early morning session.
Tuesday’s second group was highlighted by three forwards from the 2012 Entry Draft, including Filip Forsberg (first round), Max Gortz (sixth round) and Colton Sissons (second round). The 2012 forwards were joined by 2011 second rounder Miikka Salomaki and one of this year’s sixth-round picks, Tommy Veilleux. Camp invitees Joe Pendenza from UMass-Lowell and Brentwood’s own Sebastien Geoffrion rounded out the forward corps. Boston University’s Garrett Noonan (fourth round, 2011), Charles-Olivier Roussel (second round, 2009) and 2013 fifth-round selection Teemu Kivilhalme formed the second defensive group, while goaltender Marek Mazanec (sixth round, 2012), fresh off the Czech Extraliga championship, backstopped the second group.
The day’s final grouping continued to showcase the strong forward classes selected in 2012 and 2013, including Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey (fourth round, 2012), Sweden’s Emil Pettersson (sixth round, 2013) and Wade Murphy (seventh round, 2013). The third grouping also included some of the Preds larger prospects with 6-3, 220-pound forward Zach Budish (second round, 2010); 6-3, 193-pound forward Austin Watson (first round, 2010); 6-4, 200-pound forward invitee Ludwig Karlsson; 6-4, 198-pound defenseman Simon Fernholm (sixth round, 2012) and 6-2, 222-pound defenseman Mikko Vainonen (fourth round, 2012). The final group was rounded out by both of the goaltenders selected in this year’s Entry Draft – Juuse Saros (fourth round) and Janne Juvonen (seventh round).
Absent from today’s skate were 2012 draftees Brendan Leipsic (third round) and Zach Stepan (fourth round). Leipsic is coming off a career year for the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, as he finished tied for the league’s scoring title. Stepan, who played for the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League last season, is headed to Minnesota State University in the fall for his freshman season.
From a fan’s perspective, today seemed like a relatively slow day on the ice, but the intensity of the on-ice sessions will only continue to grow between now and Saturday. The on-ice sessions on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday will be open to the public and begin at approximately 8:30 a.m. The players will not skate on Thursday because of the annual prospect community relations day that afternoon.
So the pick is in.
The Nashville Predators selected defenseman Seth Jones after he fell to the No. 4 spot. While many people may believe this was a swing-and-a-miss on the Preds part, I believe it fills a hole in the Preds lineup for years to come.
At the No. 4 spot, Nashville was able to take the consensus No. 1 prospect in the draft that would have gone first overall just weeks ago. In addition to Jones being the top-rated prospect, many scouts believe that he is NHL ready. Jones will be able to move into Nashville's top six defenseman and solidify the core with Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Kevin Klein and Victor Bartley. Jones is just another up-and-coming defenseman to add to the stable that already contains Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm.
We have a little break in the action until our next pick, but stayed tuned, we have nine more picks this afternoon.
We made it inside and we have less than an hour until the 2013 NHL Entry Draft begins.
There is a decent crowd on hand here at the Prudential Center as evidenced by a rousing chant of "Marty" when Martin Brodeur stepped onto the draft floor. Brodeur's son is a draft-eligible goalie in this year's draft.
Our hockey ops staff is on the floor and everything is ready to go. I'll check back in after the Preds make their first selection.
Enjoy the show!