The Barry Trotz era is about to begin in Nashville. Yes, there already was a Barry Trotz era where he was the coach of the Nashville Predators. We’re talking about the new Barry Trotz era where he takes over as team general manger.
Making Trotz first draft even more exciting is the fact it’s being held in his home rink in Nashville, as the Predators host this year’s draft. The Chicago Blackhawks have already won the Connor Bedard lottery, so the generational talent won’t be there for the Predators to take with the 15th overall pick. A May 8th NHL.com article has the Predators choosing defenseman Axel Sandin Pellikka in a mock draft. Since then the Swedish defender has seen himself rise on other mock drafts and currently sits at fifth overall on TSN Director of Scouting Craig Button’s prospect list.
Barry Trotz returns to the Nashville Predators, this time as the general manager. He wants a center, some speed, and his scouts to take some “big swings”.
In a May 9th NHL.com article Trotz put an emphasis on wanting to add speed via the draft. He made a much more interesting comment to the media that turned a few heads. He said he told team scouts to “take some high end swings” on some guys and wanted “guys that get people out of their seat.”
Should a quote like that might make fans worry that Trotz is having a trigger happy approach to this draft? If anything, we’re sure Nashville scouts are happy to have his vote of confidence. Nobody expects Trotz to do badly, but he does have to prove himself as a general manager. Trotz added that he can find third and fourth line guys with “no problem”, so it sounds like that’s an area that will be addressed via free agency. This also isn’t a very deep free agent class.
None of us know who exactly is on the Predators draft boards. If there is a player Nashville scout’s value high enough, don’t be surprised if he’s taken well in advance of where we expected him to go. Perhaps that’s the “high end swings” Trotz was talking about.
Trotz inherits a Predators team that has plenty of talent and franchise stalwarts in Roman Josi, Fillip Forsberg and Jusse Saros. Trotz already has one elite linchpin in each area of the lineup. Those three make up the Predators core, and will for the foreseeable future. Matt Duchene and Tyson Barrie (acquired in the Mattias Ekholm trade from the Edmonton Oilers) are a part of the supporting cast. There’s already talent there in Nashville to build around.
Trotz has said he wants to get a “franchise changing center” the Predators never had, but that seem unlikely with a mid-first round selection. A Sporting News mock draft from May 25th has the Predators taking center Brayden Yager 15th overall. Yager might not be a “franchise changer” but perhaps scouts find a potential top center in the draft that other teams are overlooking and Trotz give scouts the greenlight to go all in.
In an article for The Tennessean about the upcoming draft, Paul Skrbina mentioned the Predators have a history of “out drafting” their spot (for example, Pekka Rinne was an eight round selection in 2004). Trotz has seen what those late round gems can become, but now that he has the general manager reigns he might be more aggressive in trying to get them. With 13 picks in this draft, there’s room for plenty of swings, even if one or two end up as misses.
Don’t expect any players from the Predators draft class to make an immediate impact at the NHL level. In reference to the Predators farm system, Trotz said “We could have as many as six first-round picks playing in Milwaukee next year.” Was that a Freudian slip that he doesn’t see any potential draftees on next year’s NHL roster? A strong camp could change that, but it looks like the team is favoring giving that 15th overall pick a bit of time in the AHL to get their game more developed. Then again with names like Josi, Forsberg, and Saros holding down the fort at the big club there shouldn’t be a rush.