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 2007 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
- 2006: Worst Draft in Franchise History?
The 2007 Draft, in my opinion, can be best described as an interesting one. Forty-six percent of the 211 players selected reached the NHL, which is higher than in 2006 (42.7 percent). That’s a large percentage of success until you consider that a lot of the players who reached the league only played in a handful of games. Through the 2018-19 season, only 24 had appeared in at least 500 regular-season games and only one goaltender had more than 100 appearances. Production-wise, only six had netted 200 or more goals and four had reached the 500-point threshold.
Related: Best Late Round Draft Picks
Even the first round doesn’t compare to other years, with only a combined five Stanley Cups being drafted in it. While some quality players were selected in the round, only top pick Patrick Kane developed into a superstar and is a no-doubt Hall of Famer. The rest of the draft, however, was full of diamonds in the rough that many teams passed on, only to later regret that decision. Several of them appear later in this article as missed opportunities for the Predators.
Speaking of the Predators, the 2007 Draft wasn’t a great one. Possessing nine picks, it should have been a year to generate future talent. Instead, only five of their picks reached the NHL, and only one played in 100 games with Nashville. To make matters worse, the Predators whiffed on a lot of quality prospects, including several who were drafted a few spots after the they made their pick. The 2006 Draft may be the worst in franchise history, but 2007 gives it a run for its money considering the opportunities missed.
Early Rounds (1-2)
Round 1, 23rd Overall – Jonathon Blum, D (Vancouver Giants, WHL)
With the Predators’ first-round pick, Poile chose a defenseman in the top round for the fourth time in franchise history. This time he picked American Jonathon Blum from the WHL’s Vancouver Canucks after he scored eight goals and 51 points in 72 games his draft season. He more than doubled his point output from the previous season and helped the Giants win the 2007 Memorial Cup. He played two more seasons in the WHL, captaining the Giants in 2008-09 and representing the United States at the 2008 and 2009 World Junior Championships.
He turned pro in 2009-10 with the AHL Milwaukee Admirals, scoring 41 points in 80 games. He made his NHL debut the following season, appearing in 23 games. He played with the Predators through the 2012-13 season, never becoming a full-time NHLer. He appeared in 91 games with the Predators, totaling seven goals, 22 points, and 4.2 point shares before he signed with the Minnesota Wild in July 2013.
He lasted two seasons in the Wild organization, mostly in the AHL, and totaled 19 games with the NHL club. In the summer of 2015, Blum signed with Admiral Vladivostok of the KHL, where he played parts of three seasons, and in 2018, he represented the United States at the Winter Olympics. He played for the KHL’s Dinamo Minsk during the 2018-19 season.
Missed Opportunity: P.K. Subban, D – Drafted 43rd overall by the Montreal Canadiens
If the Predators wanted a defenseman, they should have drafted P.K. Subban, who was drafted by the Canadiens in the second round. He turned pro in 2009-10 and became a full-time NHLer in 2010-11. He played with the Canadiens through 2015-16, winning a Norris Trophy in 2013, when the Predators acquired him for Shea Weber in June 2016.
He was with the Predators as of 2018-19, and for his career had accumulated 645 games, 98 goals, 408 points, and 75.2 point shares. In addition to winning the 2013 Norris Trophy, he’s been a three-time all-star and was a Norris finalist in 2015 and 2018. He’s also represented Canada at two World Junior Championships, winning two gold medals, one world championship, and one Winter Olympic, where he also won gold.
Round 2, 54th Overall – Jeremy Smith, G (Plymouth Whalers, OHL)
With it still being unknown whether Pekka Rinne would develop into the team’s answer in net, Poile drafted Jeremy Smith in the second round. Smith was drafted from the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, with whom he had a .923 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.59 goals-against average (GAA) in 34 appearances his draft season. He spent two more seasons in the OHL, including part of the 2008-09 season with the Niagara IceDogs, and his stats regressed from his draft season numbers. He also represented the United States at the 2008 World Junior Championships, where he had an .894 SV% and a 2.40 GAA in six games.
He turned pro in 2009-10, mostly playing in the ECHL before becoming a regular in net for the Admirals the following season. He remained in the Predators organization through 2012-13, having not reached the NHL. In July 2013, he signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He later played in the Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche, Carolina Hurricanes, and New York Islanders organizations, where he spent the 2018-19 season. In total, he had appeared in 10 NHL games, all with Colorado, and had accumulated a 1-6-1 record, an .888 SV%, a 3.54 GAA, and 0.8 point shares.
Missed Opportunity: T.J. Galiardi, LW – Drafted 55th overall by the Colorado Avalanche
The Predators should have drafted winger T.J. Galiardi instead of Smith. The Avalanche drafted Galiardi one spot after Smith, selecting him from Dartmouth College in the NCAA. After the 2006-07 season, his only season of college hockey, he joined the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen for one season. He turned pro in 2008-09, making his NHL debut, and became a full-time NHLer the following season. The Avalanche traded him to the San Jose Sharks at the 2012 Deadline and he later played for the Calgary Flames and Winnipeg Jets before leaving for Sweden’s SHL after the 2014-15 season.
He played one season in Sweden, before playing two in the KHL and retiring after the 2017-18 season. He retired with 321 NHL games played, 44 goals, 105 points, and 7.0 point shares. He represented the United States at the 2010 World Championships. Since retiring, he co-founded a vegan sports nutrition company called TDF Sports.
Round 2, 58th Overall – Nick Spaling, LW (Kitchener Rangers, OHL)
With his other second-round pick, Poile drafted forward Nick Spaling from the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers. In 61 games his draft season, he had 23 goals and 59 points. He played one more season with Kitchener, increasing his point total in fewer games, before turning pro in 2008-09. He made his NHL debut in 2009-10 and became a regular with the Predators in 2010-11. He played with the Predators through the 2013-14 season when he was traded, alongside Patric Hörnqvist, to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for James Neal.
In 297 games with Nashville, Spaling accumulated 40 goals, 84 points, and 5.2 point shares. He played one season with Pittsburgh before they included him in the package to acquire Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs in July 2015. In Feb. 2016, he was traded once again, this time from the Toronto to the Sharks. The 2015-16 season was his final one in North America, having finished his NHL career with 437 games, 52 goals, 124 points, and 7.5 point shares. Following that season he signed with Genève-Servette HC of Switzerland’s NLA. He played two seasons there before retiring after 2017-18.
Missed Opportunity: Wayne Simmonds, RW – Drafted 61st overall by the Los Angeles Kings
If the Predators wanted a winger, they should have drafted Wayne Simmonds. Simmonds was drafted by the Los Angeles Kings three picks after Spaling was picked. The Kings drafted Simmonds from the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack. He turned pro and immediately became a full-time NHLer in 2008-09. He played three seasons with Los Angeles before they dealt him to the Philadelphia Flyers in June 2011. He was a Flyer until the 2019 Trade Deadline when the Predators acquired him as a playoff rental. Through 2018-19 he had played in 841 games and totaled 243 goals, 474 points, and 53.0 point shares. He has had two 30-goal seasons to his name and has represented Canada at one World Junior Championship and two World Championships.
Middle Rounds (3-5)
Round 3, 81st Overall – Ryan Thang, RW (University of Notre Dame, NCAA)
In the third round, Poile drafted winger Ryan Thang after his freshman season at the University of Notre Dame. In his draft season, he had 20 goals and 41 points in 42 games. He played three more seasons with the Fighting Irish, including captaining the squad in 2009-10, before turning pro at season’s end with the Admirals. He played the 2009-10 through 2011-12 seasons in the Predators system, mostly in the AHL.
In 2011-12, he made his NHL debut and appeared in the only game of his NHL career, going pointless. After that season, he left North America to play in Germany’s DEL for one season. He later played in Sweden’s Allsvenskan and Finland’s Liiga in 2013-14 before finishing his playing career in the Asia League in 2014-15. He retired at season’s end and was a high school assistant coach in Minnesota during the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
Missed Opportunity: Alec Martinez, D – Drafted 95th overall by the Los Angeles Kings
Fourteen picks after Thang was drafted, the Kings selected defenseman Alec Martinez. The Kings drafted him in the fourth round from Miami (Ohio) University and he turned pro in 2008-09. He reached the NHL the following season and became a consistent member of the Kings’ blue line in 2010-11. As of 2018-19, he was still with the Kings and was a key member of the team’s Stanley Cup runs in 2012 and 2014. During the 2014 run, he scored the overtime winner in Game 7 of the Western Conference Final and the Stanley Cup-winning goal in double overtime of Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. Through 2018-19, he had totaled 556 games, 61 goals, 190 points, and 44.2 point shares. He had also represented the United States at two World Championships.
Round 4, 114th Overall – Ben Ryan, LW (Des Moines Buccaneers, USHL)
With the first of two fourth-round picks, Poile used the first one on winger Ben Ryan from the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers. He had an excellent draft season, with 22 goals and 64 points in 59 games. He followed that up with productive four seasons at Notre Dame, including 25 points in 44 games as a senior. He turned pro with the Admirals at the end of 2010-11, but struggled to find success at the professional ranks. He split the 2011-12 season between the AHL and ECHL and played the entire 2012-13 season with Milwaukee before retiring. He never reached the NHL.
Missed Opportunity: Matt Halischuk, RW – Drafted 117th overall by the New Jersey Devils
Winger Matt Halischuk was drafted by the New Jersey Devils three spots after the Predators picked Ryan. They drafted Halischuk from Kitchener in the OHL. He played one more season in the OHL, which also included winning a goal medal with Canada at the World Junior Championships, before turning pro in 2008-09. He played two seasons in New Jersey’s system before the Predators acquired him in June 2010 in exchange for Jason Arnott. He played three seasons with Nashville before the Jets signed him as a free agent in 2013. After three seasons with Winnipeg, he left North America to play in the DEL during the 2016-17 season. He retired at season’s end and finished his NHL career with 280 games, 33 goals, 75 points, and 7.4 point shares.
Round 4, 119th Overall – Mark Santorelli, LW (Chilliwack Bruins, WHL)
Poile used his other fourth-round pick on winger Mark Santorelli, younger brother of Mike, whom the Predators drafted in 2004. In Mark’s draft season, he accumulated 29 goals and 82 points in 72 games with the WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins. He played one more WHL season, increased his point total by 19, and turned pro at season’s end with Milwaukee. He played the next three seasons in the AHL and ECHL, never reaching the NHL. In 2011-12, he left to play in the Allsvenskan for two seasons. He finished his career by spending three seasons (2013-14 through 2015-16) in Austria’s EBEL. He retired afterwards.
Missed Opportunity: Jamie Benn, LW – Drafted 129th overall by the Dallas Stars
If the Predators wanted to draft someone with an older brother in hockey, they should have picked Jamie Benn. The Dallas Stars picked him 10 spots after Nashville drafted Santorelli. The Stars drafted him from the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. He played the next two seasons in the WHL before turning pro, after which older brother, Jordie, eventually joined him in Dallas. Jamie made the NHL in 2010-11, and as of 2018-19, had played 10 NHL seasons, all as a Star.
Related: Brothers in the NHL
Beginning in 2013-14, he was named team captain, and in 2014-15, he won the Art Ross Trophy. Through 2018-19, he had played in 745 games with 281 goals, 649 points, and 80.2 point shares. In addition to winning the scoring title, he had been a three-time all-star and had represented Canada at one World Junior Championships, one World Championship, and one Winter Olympic.
Round 5, 144th Overall – Andreas Thuresson, LW (Malmö, SHL)
In the fifth round, Poile drafted Swedish winger Andreas Thuresson from the SHL’s Malmö Redhawks. He appeared in 48 games his draft season, scoring 10 goals and 15 points. He also represented Sweden at that year’s World Junior Championships. He joined the Admirals the following season and reached the NHL in 2009-10, appearing in 22 games. He appeared in three more NHL games the following season, and in July 2011, the Predators traded him to the New York Rangers. He spent all of 2011-12 in the AHL.
He finished his NHL career with 25 games (all with Nashville), one goal, three points, and minus-0.2 point shares. Following the 2011-12 season, he returned to the SHL, joining Brynäs IF. As of 2018-19, he was still playing, having played stints in the KHL, NLA, and SHL. He also already had a contract signed for the 2019-20 season to play in the DEL. In addition to representing Sweden as a junior, he also participated in the 2015 World Championships.
Missed Opportunity: Carl Hagelin, LW – Drafted 168th overall by the New York Rangers
The Predators should have drafted another Swede, Carl Hagelin, with their fifth-round pick. The Rangers drafted him out of Sweden’s junior league and he played four seasons with the University of Michigan before turning pro. He reached the NHL in 2011-12 and played four seasons in New York. In June 2015, the Rangers dealt the speedy Swede to the Anaheim Ducks, who later traded him to the Penguins in Jan. 2016.
He spent parts of four seasons with the Penguins, playing an important role on their 2016 and 2017 Stanley Cup teams. In 2018, they traded him to the Kings and he finished the 2018-19 season with the Washington Capitals. Through that season, he had totaled 546 games, 93 goals, 241 points, and 26.1 point shares. He had represented Sweden at one World Junior Championship, one World Championship, and one Winter Olympic.
Late Rounds (6-7)
Round 6, 174th Overall – Robert Dietrich, D (DEG Metro Stars, DEL)
With his penultimate pick, Poile drafted German defenseman Robert Dietrich in the sixth round, selecting him from the DEG Metro Stars of the DEL. He scored three goals and 22 points in 52 games his draft season, when he was already 20 years old. He spent one more season in the DEL before joining the Admirals in 2008-09. He played the following season in the AHL before returning to the DEL in 2010-11. In July 2011, he left Germany to join the KHL’s Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and was killed in the Sep. 2011 plane crash that claimed all but one of the lives on-board. He never reached the NHL but had represented Germany at three World Junior tournaments and three World Championships.
Missed Opportunity: Justin Braun, D – Drafted 201st overall by the San Jose Sharks
A defenseman who would have provided the Predators with more value was Justin Braun, whom the Sharks drafted 27 spot after Dietrich. Braun was drafted after his freshman season at UMass-Amherst of the NCAA. He played three more seasons of college hockey, including one as UMass’ captain, before turning pro. He became a regular NHLer in 2011-12, and as of 2018-19, was still with the Sharks. Through that season, he had totaled 607 games, 24 goals, 154 points, and 32.8 point shares. He represented the United States at the 2012 World Championships.
Round 7, 204th Overall – Atte Engren, G (Lukko U20, Jr. A SM-Liiga)
With the Predators’ final pick of the 2007 Draft, Poile drafted Finnish netminder Atte Engren. Engren was drafted from Finland’s junior league where he had a .906 SV% and a 3.03 GAA in 38 games. He became a regular in Finland’s Liiga in 2009-10, and the following season he made his AHL debut with the Admirals. He played in 23 games with Milwaukee in 2011-12 before returning to Finland the next season. As of 2018-19, he was still in the Liiga, playing for HIFK, and had a contract for the 2019-20 season. He also had stints in the KHL and SHL and had represented Finland at two World Championships.
Missed Opportunity: Paul Postma, D – Drafted 205th overall by the Atlanta Thrashers
The Predators should have used their final pick on defenseman Paul Postma, drafted one pick after Engren by the Atlanta Thrashers. They drafted Postma from the WHL’s Swift Current Broncos and he turned pro in 2009-10. He made his NHL debut the following season after the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg. He didn’t become an NHL regular until 2014-15, and in July 2017, he was traded to the Bruins, playing one season with them. After the 2017-18 season, he signed to play in the KHL and had a contract in place for the 2019-20 season. For his NHL career, he had totaled 205 games, 10 goals, 35 points, and 6.1 point shares.
Overall Grade: C-
The Predators’ 2007 Draft is a tough one to grade. On one hand they did so little with a vast amount of resources and passed on some really good players. Neither are good. Conversely, Spaling was used to acquire Neal, who played a key role in the Predators’ run to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final. The Predators also later acquired several of their missed opportunities from this draft. Both are good things. Ultimately, it gets a slightly below average grade because it would have been better asset management to simply draft the correct player.
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.