The Nashville Predators’ youth movement is looking brighter as the weeks go on. Whether it is drafted prospects or ones they traded for, the big names are continuously advancing in their respective leagues’ postseasons. The hope their young guns’ accomplishments provide should help stave off any disappointment from the Predators’ lack of playoff action this spring. As the organization’s prospects appear to be putting together impressive playoff campaigns, the city of Nashville is preparing for the 2023 NHL Awards coming to the city on June 26.
Milwaukee Admirals Advance in AHL Playoffs
The Milwaukee Admirals, the Predators’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, advance to their first Western Conference Final for the first time in 17 years. They are set to play the Seattle Kraken’s minor-league affiliate, Coachella Valley Fire Birds, in the third round, with the first game scheduled for May 25. The Admirals’ success is fantastic news for the Preds, as a great amount of the roster consists of prospects in the organization who will be looking for a promotion to the NHL come training camp in the fall. Luke Evangelista leads the Admirals in scoring with 13 points in seven games. The forward showed promising signs in 24 games with the Predators this season, scoring 15 points (seven goals, eight assists).
Joakim Kemell, the Predators’ first-round pick from 2022, is also showing signs that his development is progressing well. He has five goals and six points in just eight games. Phil Tomasino, Egor Afanasyev, and Isaac Ratcliffe make up other young forwards impressing with the Admirals. Yaroslav Askarov, the Predators’ premier goaltending prospect, has a .909 save percentage (SV%) and a 2.44 goals-against average (GAA). His save percentage took a slight dip from his regular season numbers, which was .911. The farther the Admirals advance, the better the organization’s prospects learn to play under pressure, learning valuable tangible and intangible traits to carry into the next season.
Reid Schaefer Hoists Ed Chynoweth Cup
Predators prospect Reid Schaefer achieved the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) greatest feat, hoisting the Ed Chynoweth Cup. His Seattle Thunderbirds defeated the Winnipeg Ice in five games to claim the title. Schaefer, 19, scored eight goals and 19 points in 19 games en route to the championship. He looks to turn pro next season, potentially joining the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL with the potential to make the jump to the NHL.
Related: Nashville Predators: Getting to Know New Prospect Reid Schaefer
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The Predators acquired Schaefer at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline. He was a part of the package the Edmonton Oilers sent to the Preds to acquire veteran defensive-defenseman Mattias Ekholm. Despite the Oilers’ early exit, Ekholm helped stabilize a shaky blue line. The Predators acquired Schaefer along with Tyson Barrie, a 2023 first-round draft pick and a fourth-round pick in 2024. Schaefer looks to be a solid middle-six forward in the future, while the magic and mystery surrounding the picks are always fun for fans to ponder whom their team will select. The trade helped put the team’s retool into full gear, marking the end of an era in Nashville.
2023 NHL Award Show Tickets Available
Tickets to the 2023 NHL Awards in Nashville are officially on sale. Prices start at $55.00 on Ticketmaster for those looking to see the NHL’s best vying for awards in Bridgestone Arena. Predators fans will not see any of their favorites win, as the team did not have any nominees this year.
Predators captain Roman Josi took home the Norris Trophy last year, winning the first of his career. Juuse Saros was the best bet for a Predator to win an award this year. Unfortunately, to the surprise of many, he was not nominated for the Vezina Trophy. Saros had a stellar season, posting an excellent 2.69 GAA and .919 SV% while leading the NHL in goals saved above expected with 46.7. He nearly, single-handedly, dragged the Predators to the Playoffs. However, the voters of the Vezina Trophy found Connor Hellebuyck of the Winnipeg Jets, Linus Ullmark of the Boston Bruins, and the New York Islanders’ Ilya Sorokin more worthy than him.
The Predators hope that someday their prospects currently developing throughout their organization will turn into NHL calibre award winners. Evangelista, Schaefer, Kemell, and others all project to be full-time NHLers shortly. While this season may not have provided any accolades fans can easily acknowledge, as a team or individually, the future is undoubtedly bright for the Predators organization.
Advanced stats were taken from Money Puck.