The David Poile Draft feature began with Kyle Gipe and his coverage of the 1998-2009 drafts. I’m taking over the 2010s decade of Nashville Predators’ drafting, which also only saw one man – David Poile – at the helm. For those that missed it, here are the links to the previous draft recaps:
- 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?
- 2007: Nick Spaling Leads to James Neal…Eventually
- 2008: Predators Land Future Captain in Josi
- 2009: Success Everywhere but Round Two
- 2010: Austin Watson and Then a Face-Plant
The Predators started out behind the eight-ball in the 2011 draft, having no first-round pick as a result of acquiring Mike Fisher at the trade deadline. The trade itself was a success, but looking solely at the 2011 draft class, there is not much to be excited about.
The most entertaining part about looking into the names the Predators selected this year was thinking wistfully about the players they could have had instead.
Early Rounds (1st and 2nd)
Round 2, 38th Overall – Magnus Hellberg, G (Almtunas Is, HockeyAllsvenskan)
After the success of giants Pekka Rinne and Anders Lindback, it was easy to give the Predators a little bit of rope when they used their first selection of the 2011 draft on a raw goalie out of Sweden. Magnus Hellberg was putting up stellar numbers and had the size that the Preds seemed to covet in their goalies (6-foot-5, 185 pounds). Unfortunately, it was all downhill from there, as Hellberg crossed the pond to play in the AHL in 2012-13, put up his best campaign in North America, and then left for the KHL in 2017 after playing four NHL games from 2013-2017.
Round 2, 52nd Overall – Miikka Salomaki, RW (Karpat, SM-liiga)
The Predators found a rugged depth winger here in Miikka Salomaki. He had established a strong two-way game, and it was thought that he would adapt well to a depth role in the NHL. To some extent, that is exactly what he became, though he didn’t quite hit the ceiling that some were hoping for as he ended up topping out as a good fourth-line winger across multiple seasons for the Predators.
Salomaki has only played five NHL games since the end of the 2018-19 season, and his tenure with the Predators came to a close on Feb 22nd, 2020, when he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Ben Harpur. The Finnish winger never played for the Maple Leafs and only made it into eight games with the Toronto Marlies before the cancellation of the 2019-20 season.
Anaheim Ducks select William Karlsson, C (VIK Vasteras HK, Sweden Jrs) – 53rd overall
The Predators picked the wrong William Karlsson out of the Sweden Jrs circuit (more on that later). William was overlooked and undervalued by most teams, both during the draft and the years that followed. He was selected with the pick immediately after Salomaki in the 2011 draft, and seven years later, he breaks out as the first-line centre on the Vegas Golden Knights. It doesn’t sting too much to have missed out on drafting him when it took three teams and six years for him to finally break out as a top-line NHL forward.
Tampa Bay Lightning select Nikita Kucherov, RW (CSKA Moskow, KHL) – 58th overall
The Washington Capitals can hang their hat on the fact that they were the only team not to pass on Nikita Kucherov. The Predators selected two players before the Russian sniper and future Stanley Cup winner was taken.
Every fan-base can dream of what might have been had they drafted Kucherov, but some of them made better picks ahead of him and at least aren’t too upset. The Preds aren’t one of those teams, and the two picks they made have 50 less combined NHL games… than Kucherov has NHL goals.
Middle Rounds (3rd-5th)
Round 4, 94th Overall – Josh Shalla, LW (Saginaw Spirit, OHL)
Josh Shalla was the fifth time the Predators made a selection out of the OHL in from 2009 to 2011, but unlike the other four, he never played an NHL game. He went back to the OHL in his draft-plus-one year, and thrived on a competitive Saginaw team. The next year he made his debut in the AHL, posting 12 points in 32 games, but he struggled to keep up, and was assigned to the ECHL for the majority of the season. It was much of the same the next year, posting only four points in 26 AHL games in what ended up being his last shot above the ECHL level. Shalla last played in 2019-20 for a Romanian team in the Erste Liga.
Missed Opportunity: Ottawa Senators select Jean-Gabriel Pageau, C (Gatineau Olympiques, QMJHL) – 96th overall
The Predators spent all of the 2010s searching for centre depth, and they could have had one here that would have fit almost seamlessly into their team in Jean-Gabriel Pageau. The Ottawa, Ontario native ended up being drafted by his hometown team after dominating the QMJHL playoffs that spring, putting up 29 points in 24 games as his Gatineau Olympiques team lost in the finals to the top-ranked St. Johns team (led by Jonathan Huberdeau).
Pageau has gone on to a long and successful NHL career, and after a recent offensive breakout, he is closing in on both the 200 points and 500 game plateaus. He now plays for the New York Islanders.
Round 4, 112th Overall – Garrett Noonan, D (Boston University, Hockey East)
Garrett Noonan was a typical Predators’ pick as a smooth-skating, two-way defenceman who may have been passed over a little due to his size. Noonan was a teammate of Matt Grzelcyk in the NCAA, where the pair led the Boston University Terriers to some very competitive seasons.
In Noonan’s last year in the NCAA, he was the team captain and put up 16 points in 34 games. His game was also becoming a lot more efficient, only taking half of the number of penalties as the year before. He appeared ready to take the next step but was never really able to find his game at the AHL level. After four partial AHL seasons, Noonan was loaned to Europe and has been there ever since, most recently playing in the DEL.
Round 5, 142nd Overall – Simon Karlsson, D (Malmo Redhawks, Sweden Jrs.)
Here’s the other Karlsson from the Sweden Jrs. After the Preds missed William Karlsson by one pick, they snagged Simon Karlsson, a lanky puck-moving defenceman who needed some more development time. Simon had an excellent follow-up season in the Swedish Juniors system, putting up 28 points in 48 games. The next year, he moved to North America and joined the Plymouth Whalers. He was traded mid-season to the Oshawa Generals but didn’t get his feet properly under him with either team. He moved back to Sweden for the 2013-14 campaign and has been playing in Europe since (currently in the DEL2). He never signed a contract with the Predators.
Late Rounds (6th and 7th)
Round 6, 170th Overall – Chase Balisy, C (Western Michigan University, CCHA)
Chase Balisy was an intelligent and talented puck-handler who developed through the college and then the AHL levels, culminating in a career-high 45 points in 76 games during the 2016-17 season with the Springfield Thunderbirds. In 2017-18 he finally made his NHL debut and played eight games for the Florida Panthers without appearing on a scoresheet. the next year he was back in the AHL for a full season, and he was off to Europe after that.
Round 7, 202nd Overall – Brent Andrews, LW (Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL)
A sizeable two-way forward who played the style of an energy-line player, Brent Andrews topped out as a point per game player in the QMJHL before switching paths in 2014 and playing for his school team at the University of Prince Edward Island. Andrews graduated in 2019 and has not played professionally since.
Missed Opportunity: Tampa Bay Lightning select Ondrej Palat, LW (Drummondville Voltigeurs, QMJHL) – 208th overall
The Tampa Bay Lightning scouting staff was really onto something in the 2011 draft, as they managed to snag a second absolute steal, tabbing Ondrej Palat in the seventh round as one of the last picks of the day. Palat has gone on to score a career-high of 63 points and won a cup with the Lightning in 2020.
He is a defensively responsible winger and has been with the team since he first broke into the league in the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season. Had he been playing in Nashville, Palat may have been seeing top-line ice time and could come close to a point per game forward that would have complimented their current skaters quite nicely.
Overall Grade: D-
Getting less than 200 games from an entire class where there were seven players selected is something that an entire scouting department would get fired over if results were at all immediate. At least the next few years of drafting produced some viable NHLers. Keeping this class from being an absolute failure was the fact that we can’t penalize the scouts because they didn’t have a first-round pick to work with. Additionally, comparing the class to the disaster that was 2006, it settles in a smidge above a failing grade.