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Nashville Predators

Mock Draft Roundup: Expert Projections For Predators At No. 15



Nashville Predators

With a top-10 farm system and 13 picks in the 2023 NHL Draft, the Nashville Predators have positioned themselves to let the draft work for them.

With the No. 15 and 24 overall picks in the first round, the Predators have two shots at landing impact prospects in one of the deepest drafts in recent memory. Below is a roundup of who draft pundits project the Predators will take with the 15th overall pick:

The Athletic: Brayden Yager, C, Moose Jaw (WHL)

Analysis: “Once considered a top-10 prospect in this draft, the Predators, thin as they are down the middle, are thrilled to get Yager, a natural center, at No. 15. Barry Trotz is going to want to insulate their depth down the middle as a priority (they’ve got Philip Tomasino, Juuso Parssinen, Luke Evangelista, Zach L’Heureux and others coming on the wing) and Yager’s a committed two-way game, skill and NHL release could help fill a position of need.”

Sporting News: Yager

Analysis: “Yager’s stock has dropped over the last few months of the season, and the Predators take advantage, nabbing him at No. 15. The versatile center plays a strong two-way game and has one of the best shots of the draft. His release is quick, the puck gets on goaltenders at a high speed and most importantly, it’s accurate.” Axel Sandin Pellikka, D, Skelleftea Jr. (SWE-JR)

Analysis: “The Predators haven’t taken a defenseman in the first round since Dante Fabbro in 2016, and with two first-round picks, this could be the right time to address that lack of quality organizational depth. Sandin Pellikka (5-11, 176) had 36 points (16 goals, 20 assists) in 31 games in Sweden’s junior league and was able to use his outstanding skating to create scoring chances off transition. He needs to get stronger to play against NHL forwards, but his hockey sense and smart positional play should make him an asset at both ends in the NHL.” (Adam Kimelman)

Analysis: “Pellikka compensates for his lack of size with his hockey smarts and understanding of the game. He’s quick and agile, reliable and consistent. Compared by some to Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes, Pellikka stood out in Sweden’s junior league and had five points (two goals, three assists) in 22 games with Skelleftea in the SHL.” (Mike Morreale)

Sportsnet: Gabriel Perreault, RW, USNTDP

Analysis: Owns the best single season point total in the history of the USNTDP. He reads the play so well and has the skill to execute plays all over the ice. New GM Barry Trotz will have a number of tools at his disposal, including two first-round picks. Another playmaking forward added to a budding group that includes Luke Evangelista and Phil Tomasino will be welcomed.”

The Score: Eduard Sale, LW, Brno (Czechia)

Analysis: “Sale may take time before arriving in the NHL, as he needs to add weight to his 6-foot-1, 168-pound frame. However, his upside is tantalizing. He’s a superb skater with great hands and vision. He impressed at the 2023 world juniors, helping Czechia win silver with six points in seven games as a 17-year-old.”

Yahoo Sports: Andrew Cristall, RW, Kelowna (WHL)

Analysis: “At the U-18s, Cristall was… OK. His vision and playmaking were still evident, but he was unable to dominate opponents like he did this season in the Western Hockey League. The blip was likely just that, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him slide into the second half of the opening round. Watching Cristall play alongside other prospects like Joakim Kemell would be a treat for Predators fans.”

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter: @MGsports_