After the first 3 picks, this is where the draft gets interesting. The first trio were relative no-brainers (in some order), and now the team picking at number 4 essentially begins the draft in earnest where teams could go any direction.
#4 – NASHVILLE PREDATORSApril 25, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Nashville Predators center Craig Smith (15) is congratulated by teammates after scoring in the first period against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
TEAM STRENGTHS: Top flight goaltending, up and coming young defense
TEAM WEAKNESSES: offensive talent and overall depth up front
HOCKEY’S FUTURE ORGANIZATIONAL PROSPECT RANK: 16th of 30 teams
UNDER CONSIDERATION: Alexsander Barkov, Valeri Nikuskin, Sean Monahan, Darnell Nurse, Elias Lindholm
FANSIDED MOCK DRAFT PICK: Predlines selected Valeri Nichushkin
SENSHOT’S CHOICE: Valeri Nichushkin from Chelijabinsk 2 in the KHL. The Predators need size and scoring on the wings. Nichushkin addresses both needs as he is the biggest of all the top prospects and has offensive upside. His overtime goal in the Bronze medal game of the World Juniors against Canada illustrated his ability to take the puck and drive it to the net. As with many Russian-born prospects, his desire to come to North America to learn the game and maybe play in the minors for a year will come into question. Nichushkin’s deal in Russia includes an out to play in the NHL but not any other league. Even if he does not make an immediate impact, the combination of Nichushkin and Filip Forsberg (acquired from Washington at the trade deadline) should make for an intriguing first line in the future.
MOCK DRAFT TO DATE (click on team to view the selection):
|1||COLORADO||Seth Jones, Portland (WHL)|
|2||FLORIDA||Jonathan Drouin, Halifax (QMJHL)|
|3||TAMPA||Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax (QMJHL)|
|4||NASHVILLE||Valeri Nichushkin, Chelijabinsk 2 (KHL)|