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Predators draft primer

Draft schedule:
Round 1 – Friday, 7 PM ET (TV: NBC Sports Network)
Rounds 2-7 – Saturday, 10 AM ET (TV: NHL Network)

Predators selections:
Round 2 (37th overall)
Round 2 (50)
Round 3 (66)
Round 4 (112)
Round 4 (118)
Round 5 (142)
Round 6 (164)
Round 6 (172)
Round 6 (179)

TSN’s Top 60 draft prospects

- Center
When you look at the organizational depth chart, center may be the thinnest area – especially (a) below the NHL level and (b) if Colin Wilson continues to play wing for the foreseen future. The organization’s best center not in Nashville is Michael Latta, who doesn’t project to be a top-six forward. In recent drafts, GM David Poile has spent some late-round picks on centers. If he keeps both second-round picks, selecting a center with offensive upside wouldn’t be a bad way to go.

- Defensive depth
After taking Ryan Ellis and Charles Olivier-Roussel in the first and second round, respectively, in 2009, the Predators did not draft a defenseman before the third round in 2010 or 2011. Ellis, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm and Jonathon Blum are all prospects that have reached the NHL and are either trying to stick or get back to Music City. In the event that two or three of them don’t live up to their potential, Poile has to replenish the organizational upside on defense. The back end is the Predators’ backbone and Poile likes to have a plethora of defensive prospects in the system.

- Talent
It may seem simple and selecting “the best player available” is awfully cliché, but the Predators could use all the talent they could get. They did not have a first-round pick last summer and they are not slated to pick on Day 1 this time around, either. Outside of Austin Watson, there doesn’t seem to be a wealth of impactful talent in the system; most of it is in Nashville already.

Will the Preds be active on trade front?
At this time last week, it didn’t seem like the Predators had much ammo to make a draft day trade (either for an NHL player or a first-rounder). Now that Poile has a pair of second-round picks in his pocket, it has certainly opened up more options. One of those picks could be used for some help on the NHL roster. If Poile so chooses, he may be able to package the 37th and 50th overall picks to trade into the first round (though history shows that is not his style).

League-wide, there is expected to be a lot of trade chatter on the draft floor. Big names like Rick Nash, Bobby Ryan and Jordan Staal might be in play, and there’s no telling who else may be available. Don’t expect Poile to land one of those aforementioned names, but the longtime Predators GM does need to be proactive in trying to acquire additional help. The trade route may be the best way to grab any impact players this summer since the free agent talent pool is incredibly thin.

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