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Looking Back At The Predators’ History Drafting Inside The Top 15

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Predators goalie Yaroslav Askarov

Following the 2023 NHL draft lottery on Monday, the Nashville Predators hold the No. 15 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft on June 28 at Bridgestone Arena.

It marks the 13th time in franchise history that the Predators will pick inside the top 15, and depending on where the Edmonton Oilers finish in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Nashville could have two selections inside the top 25 picks.

Here’s a look back at some of the Preds’ top-15 draft hits:

David Legwand (No. 2 overall, 1998) 

The Detroit native was not a special franchise-changing prospect by any means, but he brought consistency to the lineup.

Legwand scored 30 or more points 12 times throughout his Predators tenure with his best effort coming in 2006-07 season when he notched a career-high 27 goals and 63 points. Legwand is one of just five players along with Scott Hartnell, Dan Hamhuis, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter who were drafted by Nashville to hit the 1,000-game mark.

He still holds the franchise record for most games played (956), and it wasn’t until recently that his all-time points (566) record was broken by current captain Roman Josi, who topped him this season.

Longevity in Nashville is what highlighted Legwand’s time, but a 17-year NHL career isn’t seen often. According to data from Hockey Answered, the average NHLer plays 4.5 years while the top 25 percent of them played an average of 12 years. The centerman helped the Predators reach the postseason seven times until he was traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Calle Jarnkrok, Patrick Eaves and a second-round pick in 2014.

Scott Hartnell (No. 6 overall, 2000)

One of the few draftees from the Predators that began their professional career at the NHL level, Hartnell had just turned 18 prior to the draft and he played 75 games as a rookie to kick-start his 17-year career, though he scored just two goals and recorded only 16 points.

In six seasons with the Predators, Hartnell was a hard-nosed forward who found himself in front of the net often. He scored 235 points in 498 games with Nashville but was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers along with Kimmo Timmonen as the organization looked to clear cap space.

He was a hit in Philly, playing in 517 games and scoring 326 points. Hartnell concluded his career in Nashville during the 2017-18 season, scoring 13 goals and 24 points in 62 games and helping the Predators to a franchise-best 117 points and the first-ever Presidents Trophy in team history.

Ryan Suter (No. 7 overall, 2003) 

The boos rain down on the defenseman each time he visits Nashville, but he’s still a prominent fixture in the fabric of who the Predators are today.

Suter is still playing for the Dallas Stars, but prior to his stop in the Lone Star state, he spurned the Predators to join friend Zach Parise with he Minnesota Wild, inking a 13-year deal worth $98 million in 2012.

His seven years in Nashville saw him play mostly with Shea Weber on the blue line, what general manager David Poile has touted as the best D-pairing the Preds could have had if they stayed together. Suter scored 238 points in 542 games before heading to his home state of Minnesota for nine seasons.

Fans continue to bombard him with boos, a tradition that could perhaps continue even after he hangs up his skates.

Kevin Fiala (No. 11 overall, 2014) 

Fiala’s time with the Predators was marred with inconsistency and wondering what could have been, but the Swiss forward has lit it up after being traded to the Minnesota Wild for Mikael Granlund in 2019.

After four seasons, including a breakout 33-goal, 85-point effort last season, Fiala couldn’t work a new deal with the Wild and he was sent to the Los Angeles Kings for prospect Brock Faber and a 2022 first-round pick. He landed a seven-year contract worth $7.8 million and was reunited with Viktor Arvidsson.

Poile added Granlund in hopes of preparing his team for a postseason run, but in one of his final moves as GM, he sent Granlund to Pittsburgh for a second-round pick in 2023. Under former head coach Peter Laviolette, Fiala put up 97 points in 204 games. Since then, he’s posted a combined 258 points in 284 games. Now with the Kings, he’s tallied 23 goals and 72 points in 69 games.

Yaroslav Askarov (No. 11 overall, 2020) 

The Russian netminder is in the middle of a postseason run with the Milwaukee Admirals, and he posted some respectable numbers in the regular season.

In his first season in the AHL, Askarov had a 26-16-5 record with three shutouts, a 2.69 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage as well as four assists, which led all goalies.

Following two seasons in the KHL, Askarov is rising up the ranks as the Predators’ projected goalie of the future. The team will have a decision to make in the next two to three years about whether Askarov or Juuse Saros is the longterm answer in goal.

Askarov has led the Admirals to a Central Division final appearance against the Texas Stars which begins on Friday in Milwaukee. The last time he was in the net against the Stars, he ended his night with a fight against Remi Poirier. Yes, he was brought down to the ice after an early attempted left jab, but that hasn’t stopped Askarov’s fiery personality from showing through.

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