Summer Ramblings, Vol. 6

2014 Fiala Draft

The first phase of the NHL offseason is already in the books with the NHL entry draft come and gone. The Nashville Predators were one of the league’s most active teams, selecting four players in the first 62 picks, and seven altogether in the first 162 (no pick in the 7th round). Off the draft floor Predators General Manager David Poile was very active as well, trading to key roster components, forwards Partic Hornqvist and Nick Spaling to Pittsburgh in exchange for sniper James Neal. It was the trade that came after the trade that didn’t involving Ottawa.

~Predators Select Kevin Fiala in the first round; four players in the first 62 picks~

Here is the Predators full draft card, via predators.NHL.com:

2014draftpicks2

Nashville’s first selection was Kevin Fiala, a skilled smaller forward with game-breaking potential, who hails from Switzerland, is a citizen of both there and Czech Republic and just finished the season playing for HV71 Jonkoping of the Swedish Elite League.

The Predators second selection was another forward, Orsk, Russia native Vladislav Kamenev most recently of Magnitogorsk Metallurg. Curious if Poile/assistant G.M. Paul Fenton got a tip on the talented forward with good size from Metallurg coach Mike Keenan, who just won a KHL title.

More importantly for Milwaukee were the selections of Jack Dougherty and Justin Kirkland, 51st and 62nd overall. Though I can’t honestly attest to knowing if Fiala or Kamenev will make an appearance in Milwaukee prior to stepping out in Nashville, both Dougherty and Kirkland will likely be wearing an Admirals jersey in the not so distant future.

If Jack Dougherty’s name sounds familiar, it should. He’s part of the incoming freshman class at the University of Wisconsin. Once again Poile and Fenton and returning to the Badgers well with the Cottage Grove, Minnesota native that has brought them such prospects as Ryan Suter, Blake Geoffrion and Craig Smith among others. The slew of recent Wisconsin defenseman developed by coach Mike Eaves now playing around the NHL bodes well for Dougherty’s future.

Dougherty seemed pretty excited in Philadelphia:

Kirkland is currently cutting his teeth in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets, where forward scored 17 goals and 48 points in his first full season, before adding another 10 in 14 playoff games.

A former teammate and current Predator/Admiral Colton Sissons was pretty excited for the pick of Kirkland:

~The James Neal Trade~

During the NHL draft, only a few trades went down with many more expected to happen that did not take place. The biggest transaction involved Nashville as the Predators traded a pair of franchise-developed products, Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling to Pittsburgh in exchange for James Neal. In Neal the Predators add a former 40-goal scorer with a bit of a checkered past. Here’s an interesting tidbit from Neal via Twitter back on May 23:

The exchange sends two big-time character forwards to a Penguins team in desperate need of them. For the record, Hornqvist dressed in 49 regular season and 11 playoff contests with Milwaukee back in 2008-2009, contributing 21 goals and 22 assists. Meanwhile, Spaling dressed in 52 regular season games with Milwaukee over the course of two seasons (2009-2011), chipping in eight goals and 11 assists.

 ~The Jason Spezza Trade that Wasn’t~

In many circles, Poile is being lauded for acquiring Neal, but the pieces were in place the same day for an even bigger fish in center Jason Spezza, according to ESPN.com/TSN reporter Pierre LeBrun:

The rumored trade involved potentially Nashville’s first-round selection in 2014, plus Hornqvist/Spaling. It was quite a risk/bounty for a player in Spezza who can sign anywhere as a free agent after the 2014-2015 season. The Ottawa forward has asked for a trade out of Canada’s capital, but much like former Badger Dany Heatley owns a no-trade claus in his contract preventing a trade to 10 teams of his choosing. The Predators and nine others were on that list.

How a player has the gall to ask for a trade, then would not accept one to organization as soundly built from top to bottom as Nashville is beyond me, especially with Spezza’s trade demand reasoning being that he wanted to get out of the spotlight of being the focal point of negative press in Ottawa. It’s not like it had to be a long-term thing. In Neal, I think Nashville got a better fit anyway, plus a better contract and didn’t have to give up their first-round pick in the process. Sometimes the best trades are the ones that don’t happen.

~Nashville’s Lower Round Draft Selections~

With its final three picks, Nashille added another smaller creative Swedish forward in 21-year-old Viktor Arvidsson, currently playing for Skellefteå of the Swedish Elite League with its fourth-round selection. Two blue liners, Espoo, Finland native Joonas Lyytinen and Edmonton, Alberta native Aaron Irving rounded out the Predators 2014 draft class.

~Free Agent Frenzy~

Tomorrow marks the first day of open-season on NHL/AHL free agents to be as 2013-2014 contracts officially expire.

Nashville’s list of UFAs via CapGeek.com is unbelievably short, involving just forward Patrick Eaves, and Milwaukee’s Bryan Rodney and Joe Piskula. Charles Olivier-Roussel was just added to this list as he was not qualified today. The RFAs for Nashville are three defenseman Michael Del Zotto (still not qualified), Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. Milwaukee: Anthony Bitetto, Taylor Beck, Scott Valentine and Simon Moser. Both Joonas Jarvinen and Joonas Rask have already signed overseas.

I will have a live blog up here at Admirals Roundtable throughout the day marking the significant signings and extended details of any Predator/Admirals signings. Stay tuned:

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7 Responses to Summer Ramblings, Vol. 6

  1. mandy says:

    I did not see ford in your names so what is going to happen with him

  2. Jason Karnosky says:

    Mandy, first of all thanks for reading.

    Scott Ford is not on my list due to the fact that it is based off of Cap Geek’s list. Scott Ford was signed by Milwaukee and not by Nashville for last season.

    As far as I know there is no word yet on what Ford’s plans are for 2014-2015. The Admirals/Predators are extremely deep along the blueline, therefore the pure roster numbers may make it difficult for him to stay, but that’s only a guess. Last year Ford’s signing press release came on July 18, therefore Ford and Milwaukee might simply be waiting until after the initial free agent signing period for the situation to become more clear.

  3. Fan in the Falls says:

    I can only foresee one veteran D-man getting signed by Milwaukee. To put it in terms of players from last season, I think it would be Piskula or Ford, with the former being the first choice. I think what will happen is Fenton will see if Piskula signs somewhere else on an NHL two-way contract. If he doesn’t, I think they would offer him an AHL deal with the Ads and we’ll have to say goodbye to Ford. If Piskula does, then Ford may be offered an AHL deal, purely to be a mentor to all the young guys coming in.

  4. Jason Karnosky says:

    Fan in the Falls,

    I tend to agree with you, but I could see scenarios where both would return. My guess is that Joe Piskula will have a choice of a few teams to sign a two-way contract with, including possibly Nashville/Milwaukee, despite their blue line depth. Piskula was a solid and enviable number 6, 7 or 8 defenseman last year in the organization and easily could have been playing for the Predators much of the season last year. He had a fantastic season in Milwaukee with the Admirals. Number 5, 6, 7, 8 defenseman are highly coveted in the NHL and in high demand because teams can never stockpile enough NHL-ready defenseman.

    It all depends on the offers that are out there. My guess is that Joe will be looking for the situation that offers his best chance to return to the NHL. If that isn’t out there, then Nashville/Milwaukee might be again good fit just due to the playing near home factor.

    Sounds like Michael Del Zotto has come down to an either trade or just let go situation, with the let go option being the favorite at this point. He just doesn’t seem to be in Nashville’s signing plans going forward at his current cost (too many similar players already under contract). Rather than trading low-round picks for him, I’m guessing other NHL teams looking for a defenseman (Tampa Bay being an obvious one) would rather just let him go to free agency, and then make a play for him then without giving anything up.

  5. mandy says:

    Thanks to all explained a lot and I love reading the roundtable very informative

  6. Fan in the Falls says:

    I would love to see both Piskula and Ford return. I agree that Piskula will definitely be looking around. I really think we need at least one veteran d-man with how many youngsters are coming in.

    MDZ seems to be having a problem fitting in anywhere. I think his next contract will be a pretty big drop in salary.

  7. Pingback: Roundtable Free Agent Frenzy Live Blog | Admirals Roundtable

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