The NHL held their long awaited draft on Sunday afternoon in Newark with hundreds of young kids hoping to hear their names called over the speakers. Seven Rounds stood between those kids and the chance of a dream and ten picks stood between Nashville and theirs; did everyone aim high enough?
There are mixed feelings running amongst the Predators fan base since Sunday’s No. 4 pick; some frustrated that Nashville nabbed the top defenseman in the draft and others absolutely elated by the steal. Offense! Isn’t that what David Poile promised us? As much as Nashville needed to use their first pick (No. 4 overall) for one of the top offensive players the 2013 Draft had to offer, the Predators would have been marred by not grabbing Seth Jones who, projected to go No. 1 overall to the Colorado Avalanche, fell into their laps.
The Predators pride themselves on being one of the top defensive teams in the league, so there was no doubt Poile was ready to slap that ‘JONES’ nameplate on the back of that jersey when he wasn’t drafted first, second, or third. Nashville will just have to reap the repercussions of their draft later on, whether it be for their benefit or their demise.
SETH JONES – Defense – 1st Pick (4th, 1st Round) –
By now, you’ve probably begun to hear his name in your sleep, but there’s a lot to Seth Jones more than just his famous NBA player/coach father, Popeye Jones… and that his agent is rapper Jay-Z. Seth began his road to hockey stardom when he was eight-years-old, joining travel teams and learning from be best and brightest that Denver had to offer. It was love from there – from the Everett Silvertips to the Portland Winterhawks, three years on the USA Junior team to being named a top draftee in the 2013 Draft, just the mention of those few examples are just scratching the surface with Jones. This past season with the Winterhawks, Jones put up 56 points, with 14 goals and 42 assists. Although that would differ on a higher professional level, Jones has the build and stamina to compete with the big boys. In an interview after the Draft, David Poile briefly touched on the possibility of Jones jumping straight into the Gold instead of traditionally taking time with Milwaukee. Some are even calling the young gun the answer to all of Nashville’s Suter problems, leaving Roman Josi to twiddle his thumbs. However, both Shea Weber and Seth Jones play right, so transitioning Weber and Jones into a duo would take time, but from our understanding, Jones is ready to take whatever means necessary to lace up for some prime-time ice.
Jonathan-Ismael Diaby – Defense – 2nd Pick (64th, 3rd Round) –
6’5″, 230lbs – this kid is possibly a Hal Gill protege, who has now been placed on waivers as of July 2nd. Diaby is a seasoned fighter, favoring our old pal, Jordin Tootoo (we’ll forgive him). A member of the Victoriaville Tigers since 2010, Diaby had an overall of 26 points this past season, with four goals and 22 assists. A sturdy-built defenseman, it seems like Diaby will be a good fit with Nashville down the road. The Predators’ second pick was an overall well-selected one.
Felix Girard – Center – 3rd Pick (95th, 4th Round) –
Though he was undrafted his first year of eligibility, Girard put up some draft-worthy numbers in the 2012/13 season with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Described as a “anything to win” type of player, Girard seems like a good fit for Nashville and definitely a tight fit for Milwaukee. Reminiscent of Gabriel Bourque, I have a feeling we will see Girard in the NHL before too long.
Juuse Saros – Goalie – 4th Pick (99th, 4th Round) –
Future backup to Pekka Rinne? We think so – or maybe even a possible replacement. If you can’t tell by the name, Saros is, in fact, from Finland and with the way that country tends to produce top goalies, Nashville may have found a diamond in the rough. Though only 5’10”, what he lacks in height and length, Saros makes up for in agility, athleticism, and speed. We have an undoubted notion that this kid will be one of many that sneak past those NHL Scouts and proves his worth – similar to what Peks has done.
Saku Macnalanen -Left Wing – 5th Pick (125th, 5th Round) –
Another young Scandinavian, Macnalanen is kind of a “out of nowhere” draft pick. From what we’ve gathered, he’s an all-around utility player that kind make his presence known in just about every position (maybe not goalie…). Penalty Kills are his thing, which could benefit the Predators farther down the road. The Preds’ Finnish Scout, Janne Kekalainen said he thinks the kid could eventually be a top Forward in the league. Eh, we’ll take that possibility.
So there are your first five selections from this year’s draft.
The Predators Development Camp will be held July 9th – 13th and is open to the public so if you want to see what these kids are made of in person, get out to Centennial Sportsplex from 8:30 to 1pm.
We will have the remaining five draftees posted here shortly!