Getting Ready For the Draft
So as the Nashville Predators head into this week’s NHL Entry Draft, it marks one of a handful of times but second year in a row the Preds enter the fray without a first round pick. Much like last year, they now have a pair of second round selections after dealing Anders Lindback and Kyle Wilson to Tampa Bay (along with a 7th round draft choice this year). The Preds also scored a third rounder next season in return for the aforementioned players.
As far as Nashville goes, it means a few things heading into the draft weekend:
- Lindback will get a chance to show he can be a starting goaltender at the NHL level with the Lightning. It’s no secret that he’s young with a lot of upside and wasn’t going to get much playing time behind Pekka Rinne, so why risk losing him eventually when you can gain needed assets back for him? To get the return Nashville did this year is a pretty good one heading into the draft. Personally, Lindy is a good guy and I hope he shines with the Bolts. I’ll miss him bopping to reggae in the locker room after morning skates.
- Another nice thing for Nashville is that it gives the team more contract flexibility without Kyle Wilson’s one-way contract for 2012-13. While Wilson certainly has shown he can be an excellent AHL player, he was due to make NHL-only money this year regardless of where he ended up. Nashville has a plethora of young talent at forward, much of which has started to make its case for roster spots (witness Gabriel Bourque as exhibit A) so clearing a little room both cap-wise and roster-wise helps. And while I know you can currently “bury” a contract in the minors to get it off the cap, there’s no guarantee that will exist in the new CBA – and in fact I’m betting it won’t.
- Netting a pair of second round picks takes a lot of the pressure off not having a first rounder this year, but that’s not to say Nashville still might not be able to make a deal here or there and get something in the first round. Having those extra picks (the Preds now have 9 picks in this year's draft, including multiple selections in the 2nd, 4th, and 6th rounds -- something against odd numbered rounds maybe?) gives the Preds some flexibility to move up if needed. But you must decide how badly you want the return of a first round draft choice -- is the player at say the No. 25, 26, 27 slot more important to your team than the players you can get at the picks you trade away to move up in the draft? That's a question the scouts will be mulling over this week. Either way, it will be interesting to see how the draft unfolds.
I hope to see everyone at our NHL Awards party tomorrow night at the Patron Platinum Club, and enjoy the draft this weekend!