Jeff Kealty enters his eighth season as the Nashville Predators Chief Amateur Scout and 14th campaign with the organization in 2014-15. While his primary responsibility is monitoring the best draft-eligible talent around the globe and spearheading the team’s annual efforts at the NHL Entry Draft, Kealty also keeps an eye on the development of prospects in the CHL, NCAA and other junior leagues across North America and Europe.
Chief Amateur Scout
The Boston native has overseen Nashville’s past seven drafts, helping to bolster the club’s depth across the board, selecting 33 forwards, 17 defensemen and six goalies since his first year running Nashville’s draft table in 2008. In 2014, Kealty and his staff took advantage of having three selections in the draft’s first two rounds, the first time that has happened in since 2009, by taking offensively dynamic forward Kevin Fiala with the 11th selection, as well as power forward Vladislav Kamenev and two-way defenseman Jack Dougherty in the second round. The class was rounded out with a pair of potential high-end offensive producers (Justin Kirkland and Viktor Arvidsson) and developing two-way defensemen (Joonas Lyytinen and Aaron Irving).
The 2014 Draft continued the momentum developed by the Predators amateur scouting staff which started in 2013 when they were able to choose the top player on their draft list for the first time in franchise history in Seth Jones (fourth overall), while also welcoming 2012 first rounder Filip Forsberg – who the team had ranked third his draft year and was acquired from Washington – and continued throughout the 2013-14 campaign.
While homegrown selections Jones, Mattias Ekholm, Colton Sissons and Marek Mazanec performed admirably in their rookie seasons, others selected early in the Kealty era, such as 2008 second-round pick Roman Josi and 2009 fourth-round selection Craig Smith, had breakout campaigns for the Predators.
Deeper down in the organization, 2011 second rounder Miikka Salomaki led the AHL-affiliate Milwaukee Admirals in points during his first season in North America, while 2012 draftees Brendan Leipsic (WHL), Pontus Aberg (Sweden) and Jimmy Vesey (NCAA) were stars in their respective leagues. At the 2014 World Junior Championship, 2013 selection Juuse Saros was dominant in goal for Team Finland, while countryman and fellow 2013 draftee Saku Maenalanen led the tournament in goals as four Finnish Preds prospects won gold medals in Malmo, Sweden.
A former first-round pick (22nd overall) of the Quebec Nordiques in 1994, Kealty was signed by Nashville as a free agent in 1998 following a four-year college career at Boston University. The former defenseman played one pro season for the Milwaukee Admirals (International Hockey League) before his playing career was cut short due to injury.
Kealty, his wife Lynn, daughter Lydia and son James (twins) reside in Norfolk, Massachusetts.