PHILADELPHIA – The Nashville Predators made seven selections at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, taking four forwards and three defensemen. In addition to acquiring seven players through the draft, the Preds added proven goal scorer James Neal through a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“Trading for James Neal and adding dynamic forwards such as Kevin Fiala and Vladislav Kamenev early in the 2014 Draft allow us to continue re-shaping our roster and provide us with a more offensive philosophy and approach going into the 2014-15 season and beyond,” David Poile said. “Neal is a proven goal-scorer who brings size, speed and skill to our lineup. Fiala may be the top game-breaker in this year’s draft while Kamenev is a big, talented center that all teams covet. We also added to our defensive depth with one of the top U.S. prospects in Jack Dougherty, and ended up a global draft, selecting players from six different countries.”
On Friday night, Nashville selected forward Kevin Fiala with their first pick, 11th overall, in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. A Switzerland native who split the 2013-14 between HV71’s junior and Swedish Hockey League teams, Fiala is known as a dynamic offensive forward with game-breaking potential. He also participated in the 2014 IIHF World Championship with Team Switzerland, a teammate of current Pred Roman Josi.
“We’re really excited to have gotten Fiala last night,” Predators Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty said. “Going into the Draft, he’s the player that we thought we had a chance to get to and he’s a player that we were targeting. He’s a high end offensive player with great skills and he’s very creative with the puck. He can score, set-up and he’s extremely competitive. He has all the ingredients to thrive as a dynamic offensive player for us down the road.”
Nashville used its second selection in the 2014 Entry Draft (42nd overall) to select two-way versatile forward Vladislav Kamanev. The Orsk, Russia, native displays great defensive awareness and is a strong physical presence. Kamenev split the 2013-14 season between Magnitogorsk in Russia’s junior league - scoring four goals and 10 points in 15 games - and Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Kontinental Hockey League. Playing under former NHL coach Mike Keenan, Kamenev scored one goal in 16 games with the eventual KHL champions. He finished in the top five in tournament scoring at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge, posting seven points (1g-6a) in five games as Russia captured the silver medal. As captain of Team Russia at the 2014 Under-18 World Championship, Kamenev shared the team-lead with seven points (2g-5a) in five games.
“Vladislav is a good, big, powerful forward who has very good skills,” Nashville European Scout Martin Bakula said. “He is very good in tight situations where he uses his body and his long reach to hold off opponents. He’s got a very good set of skills to create scoring chances, a very good shot and he’s an offensive threat every time he’s on the ice.”
The Predators traded their 46th pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft to San Jose in exchange for the 51st pick in this year’s Draft and the Sharks’ fourth round pick in 2015.
The Preds took their first defenseman of the Draft, American-born Jack Dougherty, with their second pick in the second round (51st overall). The Cottage Grove, Minnesota, native played with the Under-18 US National Team Development Program in 2013-14 scoring six goals and adding 16 assists in 55 games. He also helped the United States win gold at the Under-18 World Junior Championships this past year scoring two goals and two assists in seven games. Dougherty is a big body- defenseman with a strong all-around game and skating ability. Dougherty is slated to attend the University of Wisconsin in September 2014 and looks to be the next in a long line of impact defenders for the Badgers.
“Jack is a good-sized good-skating defenseman,” Preds North American Amateur Scout David Westby said. “He makes a good first pass to get out of his own end and he’ll jump into the play and carry it if he has to. In terms of defending he’s hard to play against, he’s got some fight to his game. He reminds me a little bit of Matt Niskanen. He’s a good athlete on skates and a solid hockey player.”
The Predators traded their 72nd and 102nd picks in this year’s Draft to San Jose in exchange for the 62nd selection in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Nashville selected their first player from the Canadian Major Junior Hockey League, selecting Kelowna Rockets’ forward Justin Kirkland with the second pick of the third round (62nd overall). The Camrose, Alberta native recorded 48 points in 68 games with Kelowna, one of the best teams in the Western Hockey League this season. Scouts have described Kirkland as a raw talent with limitless potential, a true value pick at 62. Before being drafted by Kelowna, Kirkland skated for the Notre Dame Midget Program in Saskatchewan, joining the likes of Vincent Lecavalier and Brad Richards who also played for the elite program. Kirkland has a unique mix of size and skill, and has been compared to the likes of Carolina Hurricanes forward Erik Cole and former Kelowna Rocket /current Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn.
“Justin is a big power forward,” Nashville North American Amateur Scout Glen Sanders said. “He played wing last year and was kind of a late bloomer. He came from playing AA hockey in Alberta so he had a bit of a slow start, but I think going forward we’ve got ourselves a very skilled goal-scorer type forward. The coaching staff did a great job in Kelowna. He was an unknown to them and sky-rocketed through the year.”
With the 112th pick, the Predators returned to Sweden with the selection of winger Viktor Arvidsson from Skellefteå AIK. The right winger has already competed for four years in Europe’s top professional league, the Swedish Hockey League (SHL). He put up a career high 40 points (16g-24a) in the 2013-14 season with Skelleftea. Arvidsson also helped Sweden earn the silver medal at the 2013 U-20 World Junior Championship in Russia, scoring four goals in six games (4g-1a-5pts). He has good speed, impressive creativity and bolsters a deadly wrist shot. He is known to be a high-effort, high-intensity player who has the potential to become an impact scorer in the NHL.
“He’s as tenacious as they come,” Preds European Scout Lucas Bergman said. “He’s always got his finger on the trigger and goes into hard areas. He’s an energetic offensive player. Playing against men this year proved he can handle bigger bodies and he was over a point per game in the playoffs. He’s proven that size is not going to be an issue. That’s why were so excited to get him.”
With their fifth round pick, 132nd overall, Nashville took its second defenseman of the Draft, Joonas Lyytinen of Espoo, Finland. Lyytinen recently split time playing with KalPa’s Under-20 junior team, as well as KalPa’s professional team in Liiga, Finland’s top professional league. He put up nine points in 30 league games with KalPa’s top team while recording 24 points in 24 games with KalPa’s junior team during the 2013-14 season. Lyytinen has competed internationally for Finland in four tournaments, most recently as a member of the Under-18 World Junior Championship team.
“He was a great junior player and spent the last half of the season with the men’s team in KalPa and played the exact same way he played in juniors,” Preds European Scout Janne Kekalainen said. “He made a splash right away and is really good with the puck. He can pass, he can skate with the puck and his transition game is awesome. In a lot of ways he reminds me of Roman Josi. He’s a very intelligent player with the puck and an active and competitive defender.”
The Preds rounded out their selections in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft picking a third defenseman, Aaron Irving, in the sixth round with the 162nd overall pick. The Edmonton, Alberta, native spent his past two seasons playing for his hometown Edmonton Oil Kings of the Western Hockey League. Irving put up 30 points (9g-21a) in 63 games for the Oil Kings in 2013-14 and helped them win their first Memorial Cup in franchise history. Irving is a two-way defenseman with good size and strength. He describes his style of play as more of a stay-home defenseman who chips in offensively when needed. Irving has been quoted as saying his favorite NHL defenseman is current Predators captain Shea Weber.
“Irving is a really intelligent kid and has sneaky toughness,” Sanders said. “He didn’t get as much ice-time as he would have liked going down the stretch because they [Edmonton Oil Kings] were making a Memorial Cup run and the 20-year-olds took his spot but he’ll log a lot of ice-time going forward for them. His best attribute is his skating with the puck; he loves to take the puck up ice and has great vision. He makes a nice, hard first pass. He’s an all-around solid defenseman; he’s got everything we want.”
2014 Draft/Page 4
For more quotes and comments from the Predators Hockey Operations staff regarding players chosen in this weekend’s draft, visit Predators Draft Central at nashvillepredators.com.
The Nashville Predators’ top prospects, including several of this year’s picks, are expected to participate in the club’s 2014 Development Camp, officially opening on Sunday, July 6 at Bridgestone Arena. The 2014 Development Camp will end on Saturday, July 12 when the prospects participate in an intrasquad scrimmage. The scrimmage, which will be open to the public, will be one of the highlights of the Preds summer Open House. The Open House, which coincides with the first day that single-game tickets will be on sale, will also include games, an equipment sale and more.
The complete list of Nashville’s 2014 draft selections follows:
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