Recently, I’ve been diving into David Poile’s draft history as general manager of the Nashville Predators. Since he’s been the franchise’s only GM, he’s been at the helm for every draft since 1998. Beginning with that first draft, I’m working forward to the present, with this installment covering the 2006 Draft. For reference, here are the drafts I’ve covered so far:
- 1998: Franchise’s Inaugural Draft
- 1999: Erat Leads to Forsberg
- 2000: Scott Hartnell and Nothing Else
- 2001: Hamhuis and Tootoo
- 2002: What was Poile Thinking?
- 2003: The Suter and Weber Draft
- 2004: Predators Get Franchise Goaltender
- 2005: Drafting Hornqvist Last Overall
In total, the 2006 Draft wasn’t a great one. Of the 213 players picked, only 91 reached the NHL. The first round, which was started when the St. Louis Blues took Erik Johnson first overall, was amazing, with all but three of the players reaching the league and 20 playing in at least 100 games. The first round also produced 10 Stanley Cups and one Selke Trophy. As of 2018-19, the 2006 Draft had produced 26 players who had played in at least 500 regular-season games, seven who had scored 200 or more goals, eight with 500-plus points, and two goaltenders who had accumulated at least 200 wins.
For the Predators, it was a terrible draft. In fact, depending on how the 2018 Draft pans out, it could be the worst draft in franchise history. For starters, they only had five picks, with no first-round selection, the result of them trading it to the Washington Capitals for defenseman Brendan Witt. Of the five picks they did have, only two reached the NHL and neither played in more than 55 games. It was a truly awful draft.
Early Rounds (1-2)
Round 2, 56th Overall – Blake Geoffrion, LW (U.S. National Development Program)
With the Predators’ first pick of the 2006 Draft, Poile drafted winger Blake Geoffrion from the U.S. National Development Program, where he had 18 goals and 41 points in 54 games his draft season. In selecting Geoffrion, the Predators were drafting hockey royalty. His great-grandfather is Hall-of-Famer and three-time MVP Howie Morenz and his grandfather is Bernie Geoffrion, also a Hall-of-Famer, a one-time MVP, and six-time Stanley Cup winner. Given his lineage, there were high expectations for Blake Geoffrion.
Related: Howie Morenz – Hockey Royalty
After being drafted, he played four seasons at the University of Wisconsin, winning the Hobey Baker Award in 2010. Before turning pro and making his NHL debut in 2010-11, he played at one U18 Tournament and two World Junior Championships. By turning pro, he became the first fourth-generation player in league history, following in the footsteps of his father, grandfather, and great-grandfather.
He played the majority of that season in the AHL, but was playing a larger role in the NHL the following season when the Predators traded him to the Montreal Canadiens in Feb. 2012 as part of a package to acquire Hal Gill. Geoffrion ended his Predators tenure with 42 games played, six goals, 11 points, and 1.2 point shares. He split the rest of the season between the Canadiens and their AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs.
Related: Redrafting the 2006 NHL Draft
He began the 2012-13 lockout-shortened season in the AHL when he suffered a skull fracture on Nov. 9, 2012. The injury, which required emergency surgery, led to his retirement in July 2013. He ended his NHL playing career with 55 games played, eight goals, 13 points, and 1.5 point shares. Since retiring, he’s been a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey Operations Department, first as a scout, before becoming their AHL affiliate’s assistant general manager in 2016-17. He continued to hold that position in 2018-19.
Missed Opportunity: Brad Marchand, LW – Drafted 71st overall by the Boston Bruins
The Predators would have been better served by drafting Brad Marchand, who was drafted 15 spots after Geoffrion. The Bruins drafted him from the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads. He turned pro in 2008-09 and reached the NHL in 2009-10 before becoming a full-time player in 2010-11. As of 2018-19, he’s played his entire career in Boston, accumulating 681 games, 262 goals, 559 points, and 77.2 point shares. He’s a four-time 40-goal scorer, a one-time all-star, and helped the Bruins win the 2011 Stanley Cup. He represented Canada at two World Junior Championships, one World Championship, and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Middle Rounds (3-5)
Round 4, 105th Overall – Niko Snellman, RW (Ilves U20, Jr. A SM-Liiga)
In the fourth round the Predators drafted Finnish winger Niko Snellman from Finland’s junior league. In his draft season he had four goals and eight points in 23 games. He played the next season with the WHL’s Regina Pats before returning to Finland in 2007-08. The Predators never signed him, and he played his entire career in Finland. He last played in Finland’s second-tier league in 2011-12 before retiring at season’s end.
Missed Opportunity: Chad Johnson, G – Drafted 125th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins
The Predators should have drafted netminder Chad Johnson to back-up Pekka Rinne. The Penguins drafted Johnson 20 picks after the Predators drafted Snellman. Johnson was drafted from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks. The Penguins traded him to the New York Rangers in June 2009, and he turned pro and reached the NHL in 2009-10. As of 2018-19, he was still in the league, splitting the season between the Blues and Anaheim Ducks. He’d played nine NHL seasons across eight teams. He had appeared in 192 games and accumulated a record of 80-72-15, a .907 save percentage (SV%), a 2.73 goals-against average (GAA), and 26.4 point shares. He had also represented Canada at two World Championships.
Round 5, 146th Overall – Mark Dekanich, G (Colgate University, NCAA)
The Predators did draft a goaltender in the fifth round, going with Mark Dekanich from Colgate University. In his draft season, he had a .924 SV% and a 2.29 GAA in 36 appearances. He played two more college seasons before the Predators signed him and he turned pro in 2008-09 with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. He largely played in the AHL in 2008-09 and 2009-10, with a stint in the ECHL, before making his NHL debut in 2010-11, playing in one game. It was the only NHL game of his career, turning in an .880 SV% and a 3.60 GAA. He became a free agent in 2011, and played in the Blue Jackets, Winnipeg Jets, and Philadelphia Flyers systems before retiring after the 2017-18 season. He also played the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons in the KHL.
Missed Opportunity: Andrew MacDonald, D – Drafted 160th overall by the New York Islanders
The Predators should have drafted defenseman Andrew MacDonald, picked 14 spots later by the Islanders. They drafted him from the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats, and he turned pro in 2006-07. He made his NHL debut in 2008-09, and played for the Islanders until 2013-14, when they traded him to the Flyers in March 2014. As of 2018-19, he was still with the Flyers, and had played 11 NHL season with 586 games, 28 goals, 161 points, and 31.3 point shares.
Late Rounds (6-7)
Round 6, 176th Overall – Ryan Flynn, RW (U.S. National Development Program)
The Predators drafted winger Ryan Flynn from the U.S. National Development Program in the sixth round. In his draft season, he totaled 16 goals and 33 points in 59 games. He played the following four seasons with the University of Minnesota before turning pro. He played part of 2009-10 and all of 2010-11 and 2011-12 with the Admirals. In 2012-13, he left North America to play for Italy’s HC Bolzano. He spent 2013-14 in Finland’s Liiga before retiring at season’s end, having never reached the NHL. Before turning pro he represented the United States at one U18 Tournament and one World Junior Championship.
Missed Opportunity: Mathieu Perreault, C – Drafted 177th overall by the Washington Capitals
One spot after the Predators drafted Flynn, the Capitals took Mathieu Perreault from the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan. He turned pro in 2008-09 and reached the NHL with the Capitals in 2009-10. He played for them through 2012-13 before they traded him to the Ducks in Sep. 2013. At season’s end, the Jets signed him as a free agent, the team he remained with in 2018-19. Through that season he had accumulated 578 games, 123 goals, 309 points, and 33.6 point shares.
Round 7, 206th Overall – Viktor Sjödin, LW (VIK Hockey Ungdom J20, SuperElit)
With his last pick, Poile drafted winger Viktor Sjödin from Sweden’s SuperElit league. In his draft season, he totaled 12 goals and 17 points in 31 games. He played the next two seasons with the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks. The Predators never signed him, and he returned to Sweden in 2007-08. He played in Sweden until 2013-14, when he finished the season and spent the next three seasons in Australia. He returned to Europe in 2017-18, playing in the BeNe League, located in Belgium and the Netherlands. He spent 2018-19 in that league.
Missed Opportunity: None
Overall Grade: F
Only getting 56 combined games from an entire draft class is unacceptable. There was plenty of talent drafted near when the Predators made their selections, but Poile and his scouting department simply missed.
My name is Kyle, and although I’m from Pennsylvania and grew up a Penguins fan, I cover the Predators here at The Hockey Writers. And while I would consider myself a Predators fan, I really enjoy watching all hockey and try to always take an objective approach to things. In addition to covering the Preds, I write hockey history and some statistical analysis pieces as well as book reviews.