Entering Philadelphia, the Nashville Predators held eight draft picks. Leaving the city of Brotherly Love, Nashville drafted seven. The Predators made two trades involving draft picks with the San Jose Sharks, trading the 46th overall pick for the 51st and a 2015 4th round pick; and picks 72 and 102 for the 62nd overall pick.
Of the seven selected, four are forwards and three are defensemen. Nashville took to heart their need for change up-front, using 4 of their first 5 picks on forwards. Adding James Neal did not hurt them up front either.
“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 in a press release. “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.”
Below is a summary of all the players selected by the Predators in 2014.
Kevin Fiala RW/LW – 11th overall
While this was a solid pick, it appears that the Nashville Predators reached on the 17 year old. With Finnish forward Kasperi Kapanen still on the board, the Predators’ brass decided to select Kevin Fiala. The NHL Central Scouting Services ranked Fiala as the 3rd best European skater at the draft with Kapanen leading the pack.
Fiala played 17 games against men in the Swedish Hockey League for HV71 last season, scoring 3 goals, 8 assists. Fiala also participated at the World Championships in Belarus for Team Switzerland, alongside current Predators Roman Josi and Simon Moser. There is no question Fiala enjoys increased competition. The 5’10, 181lbs winger will need around 2-3 years before becoming NHL-ready.
Asked Fiala if he was worried about his size at all, he said “Im the same size as Sidney Crosby. I don’t care what they say”
— Kristopher Martel (@ThePredatorial) June 28, 2014
“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.”
From Hockey’s Future:
Fiala is a pure scorer at this stage in his development with several ways to create scoring chances. To succeed at the next level he will need to add some bulk and strength and refine the other aspects of his game to complement his offensive skills. A high risk/high reward prospect, projections on Fiala range from him becoming a Patrick Kane-type scorer to a player who puts up big numbers in Europe his entire career; never skating in the NHL.
For more on Kevin Fiala, read Shawn Reznik’s player profile here.
Vladislav Kamenev C/LW – 42nd overall
For the first time in 10 years, the Predators selected a Russian-born player in the draft. Vladislav Kamenev possesses high-end scoring abilities and excellent hands. The 6’2, 203lbs forward uses his big frame with expert puck possession and physicality. While Kamenev appears to be a player Nashville would enjoy having for years to, the “Russian factor” plays a factor. The Orsk, Russia native has yet to transition to the North American surface and is set to play for Metallurg in the KHL next season. Whether Kamenev stays there or not after next season has yet to be answered, but his situation raises yellow flags.
“Vladamir is a good, big, powerful forward who has very good skills,” Nashville Pro Scout Vaclav Nedomansky 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.”
From Aaron Vickers of FutureConsiderations.com:
“Kamenev is a talented forward with good sized who uses his physical gifts to protect the puck and win board battles. He sees the ice well, has good hands and a strong shot. Has to keep his emotions in check as he can get overzealous taking stupid penalties at times. (November 2013)”
For more on Vladislav Kamenev, read Shawen Reznik’s player profile here.
Jack Dougherty D – 51st overall (via San Jose)
Earlier on in the round, selecting a Russian was extremely shocking. But the Predators surely returned from their wild thinking and selected an American, college-bound defenseman in Jack Dougherty. The Minnesota born defender plays a smart, simple game, but does lack great skating abilities. Playing with the US U18 team last season, Dougherty totaled 6 goals, 16 assists in 55 games.
“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.”
From Aaron Vickers of FutureConsiderations.com:
“Dougherty is an intelligent defenseman who tries to blend strong positioning while trying to inflict a physical dimension on his opponent. He isn’t the fleetest of foot, but does get where he needs to go. He also makes a strong first pass and has solid offensive instincts.”
For more on Jack Dougherty, read Shawn Reznik’s player profile here.
Justin Kirkland LW – 62nd overall (via San Jose)
With the Sharks’ pick, the Predators selected Justin Kirkland. The big 6’3, 190lbs winger came out of noted hockey factory in Saskatchewan, the Notre Dame Argos Midget AAA. Kirkland is slowly coming into form, but will be a project for the Predators to work on in the coming years. He has the potential of becoming a power forward in the NHL. In his rookie season with the Kelowna Rockets (WHL), Kirkland posted 48 points (17 g, 31 a) in 68 games.
“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.”
From Bill Placzek at DraftSite.com:
“Big winger is a late bloomer who played the past seasons at Notre Dame (Sask). Shows the ability to develop into a winger with a power game after some long term work.”
For more on Justin Kirkland, read Eldon McDonald’s player profile here.
Viktor Arvidsson RW – 112th overall
With one of the more intriguing picks at the draft, Nashville selected 21 year old Viktor Arvidsson. The Kusmark, Sweden native has been draft eligible for the past 4 years and was projected by many scouts to be drafted as high as in the 2nd round in 2013. Contrary to belief, that did not come into fruition and Arvidsson would be drafted in the 4th round a year later. Certainly the biggest reason Arvidsson has been passed on by many teams is due to his small 5’9, 176lbs frame. Nashville elected to take a chance on the small, speedy forward, which could pay big dividends in the future. Last season with Skelleftea in the SHL, Arvidsson scored just 16 goals, 24 assists in 50 games. According to Swedish journalist Uffe Bodin, Nashville European scout Lucas Bergman said Arvidsson will stay in Sweden for another season. There is a connection on the current team with Arvidsson, as he and Filip Forsberg were teammates on Sweden’s 2013 WJC team.
“He’s as tenacious as they come,” 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.”
A smallish winger with good speed and impressive technical skills. Really noticeable on the ice with his creativity. Has a fine shot and potential to become a high scoring player. Works pretty hard too and does not ignore his defensive responsibilities. Scores big/important goals. (EP 2012)
Joonas Lyytinen D – 132 overall
— Janne Kekäläinen (@gamentalist) June 28, 2014
That made it clear the mastermind behind this pick was European scout Janne Kekalainen. With that being said, Kekalainen has been behind many successful Finnish players and hopefully this is another one. The 6’0, 150lbs defender was an assistant captain on KalPa’s U20 team before being promoted to the men’s squad in the Sm-Liiga. Lyytinen, 19, played 30 games with KalPa totaling 9 points (3 g, 6 a) and a -3 rating. It is expected he will return to KalPa next season.
“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,” 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.”
Aaron Iving D – 162nd overall
Nashville concluded draft day with the selection of Edmonton Oil Kings’ Aaron Irving. The 6’1, 190lbs defenseman played a role in Edmonton’s Memorial Cup Championship run. Irving made forwards’ lives difficult in the WHL with his physicality and is not shy of shedding the mitts every once in a while. The Edmonton native fought six times last season. In 63 games, Irving had 88 penalty minutes, 30 points (9 g, 21 a) and a +26 rating. Bob McKenzie gave the 18 year old an honorable mention in his top 50 prospects list and was 1 of 40 CHL prospects invited to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
“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.”
From Hockey’s Future:
Irving possesses “stay-at-home” attributes. Not shy of physical play. Looked upon to settle things down in defensive zone. Moves puck well up ice. Trusted by coaching staff during key minutes late in games.
All scouts’ quotes are provided by team’s press release.
Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer and is a credentialed media member of the Chicago Wolves. From Nashville, Tennessee, Colin majors in journalism and public relations at Columbia College Chicago. Follow him on Twitter, @FittsTHW. Email: 22fitts [at] gmail [dot] com.