Preds Get Their Man at 2015 NHL Draft

Nashville Predators 2nd Round draft pick Iakov Trenin

Nashville Predators 2nd Round draft pick Iakov Trenin

The Nashville Predators still got their guy.

Without a first round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft held this weekend at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida, Predators General Manager David Poile and the Nashville scouts had to wait through 30 other picks on Friday night to see who would remain on the board come Saturday morning.

Luckily for the Preds, whose first selection came at No. 55 in the second round, Iakov Trenin was available when Nashville officially went on the clock for the first time.

“Trenin was our first guy that we wanted to take,” Poile said. “[He] was a No. 1 guy that we had rated to take at our pick, and [our ratings were correct] because that’s how it fell.”

A 6-foot-2 Russian center, Trenin potted 18 goals and 67 points in 58 games last season for Gatineau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Poile said the Predators were so keen on Trenin they actually considered making a trade in order to move up to ensure they’d be able to snag him. As it turned out, that wasn’t necessary.

“Sometimes it’s good to be good, sometimes it’s better to be lucky,” Poile said. “We didn’t think [Trenin] would fall that low, but he did, so it worked out great. We got the guy we wanted, we didn’t have to give up a third or a fourth [round] pick or [future picks], so we’re exactly where we wanted to be.”

Trenin, who says his favorite player is Pittsburgh Penguins center and former NHL MVP Evgeni Malkin, also prefers to model his game after his fellow countryman. If Trenin is able to flirt with that level one day, Nashville’s pick could pay large dividends.

“I would say Trenin’s biggest strength would be his hockey sense,” Preds North American Amateur Scout J-P Glaude said. “The way he understands the game, the way he puts himself always in the right spot and the way he helps his defensemen and will be on the attack [are all assets]. I really see him as a top-two center in the NHL. He will put points on the board and coaches will love to have him and put him any situation.”

For Poile, who flew directly from Florida to Toronto to fulfill his duties as a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame Selection Committee before a return to Nashville in time for the opening of the NHL Free Agency period on July 1, this weekend’s Draft was a positive step for the organization, with the selection of Trenin leading the way.

“We got the players that we wanted to get,” Poile said. “I’m happy with all of the above.” The Predators drafted 7 players overall, 4 centers, 2 goaltenders and a defenseman.  Here is a quick analysis of each draft pick.

Iakov Trenin – Second Round, 55th Overall

6-2, 194 pounds – Center, Gatineau, QMJHL

2014-15: 18g-49a (67 pts) in 58 games played

The Chelyabinsk, Russia, native spent the 2014-15 season playing for Gatineau in the Quebec Major Junior League where he played in 58 regular-season games and placed third among QMJHL rookies in assists (49) and fifth in points (67); his 49 assists led all Olympiques players and his 67 points were good for second on the team. During the 2015 QMJHL Playoffs, Trenin averaged a point per game and ranked second in rookie scoring (3g-8a-11pts) while helping Gatineau to a first-round victory over Blainville-Boisbriand.

J-P Glaude, Preds North American Amateur Scout, talks Iakov Trenin:

“He’s a big center, he’s 6-foot-2 and he plays both ways on the ice. He put up almost 70 points this year in the QMJHL as a rookie. He comes from Russia and didn’t speak a word of English when arriving in August. It was tough. He’s 17-years-old, but put up almost more than a point-per-game, and defensively, he was awesome, especially in the playoffs when his coach, Benoit Groulx, used him on the penalty kill and power play. He was a top center, so he had a great year.”

“I really see him as a top-two center in the NHL. He’ll put points on the board and his coach will just love to have him and put him in any situation.”

His greatest strength:

“I would say his biggest strength will be his hockey sense – the way he understands the game, the way he puts himself in the right spot, the way he helps his defensemen and will be on the attack too, I just love that about him. He’s strong and it’s natural.”

NHL player comparable:

“[Pittsburgh Penguins center] Evgeni Malkin is a comparable. I see [Trenin] more as a complete center. He could be 6-foot-3 in the end, but I want to let him finish his junior career and let him see. But it’s fine, if he wants to be a Malkin, [that’s great]. I just see him more as a complete center.”

Thomas Novak – Third Round, 85th Overall

6-0, 179 pounds – Center, Waterloo, USHL

2014-15: 14g-34a (48 pts) in 45 games played

Novak, who has committed to the University of Minnesota, tallied 48 points (14g-34a) in 45 games with the Black Hawks in 2014-15; his 48 points were good for second on the club and his 34 assists ranked first. In addition to his time with Waterloo in 2014-15, Novak represented Team USA at the 2014 World Jr. A Challenge (3g-4a-7pts, gold medal) and the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial (5g-6a-11pts, bronze medal). Novak was a teammate of Predators 2014 second-round pick Jack Dougherty at St. Thomas Academy (Minn.) in 2011-12 and 2012-13.
David Westby, Preds North American Amateur Scout, discusses Thomas Novak:

“Novak is a good skating, skilled, offensive center. He really sees the ice well and he’s got great offensive instincts. He makes plays and he can also shoot the puck. He’s a pass-first guy, but he also has a good shot off a quick release.”

On Waterloo producing NHLers:

“He is coming from a good program and a good coach who has been there for many years and really helps develop kids. I feel very comfortable taking Novak or any other player from that program.”

On where Novak will fit in an elite program like the University of Minnesota has:

“[He] is what every program is looking for. He’s a highly-skilled hockey player that can make plays and he can also score goals. Everybody’s looking for that.”

NHL player comparable:

“His style reminds me a lot of Mike Ribeiro.”


Anthony Richard – Fourth Round, 100th Overall

5-10, 163 pounds – Center, Val-D’or, QMJHL

2014-15: 43g-48a (91 pts) in 66 games played

A native of Trois-Rivieres, Quebec, Richard is a fast skater whose style of play scouts describe as similar to that of Boston forward Brad Marchand. In 2014-15, his third season with the Foreurs, Richard led the club in goals (43) and points (43g-48a-91pts) in 66 games, improving on his 52-point (25g-27a, 66gp) 2013-14 sophomore season.
J-P Glaude, Preds North American Amateur Scout, on Anthony Richard:

“He’s a fast, little player. He’s feisty, but it doesn’t matter because of the way he skates. He’s an offensive, elite guy…you know what you’re looking for right now in the NHL and you need a fast guy, competitive guy. He’s got a lot of character and that’s why he’s getting drafted today at 5-foot-10. He plays with one speed and that’s what we like about him.”

On how he uses his speed to his advantage:

“He anticipates a lot. He sometimes will cheat a little bit to try to anticipate a loose spot. You see good offensive players that do that, when you have the sense to anticipate when it’s time. This year they used him a lot on the penalty kill and almost scored 10 goals. His game is not to be a defensive guy, but he anticipates the pass, anticipates where the puck is going to go, and he just explodes to use his speed to attack the defensemen.”

His most comparable NHL player:

“Right now, we all say Brad Marchand could be his type of guy.”


Alexandre Carrier – Fourth Round, 115th Overall

5-11, 174 pounds – Defenseman, Gatineau, QMJHL

2014-15: 12g-43a (55 pts) in 68 games played

A teammate of the Predators’ second-round pick, Trenin, and native of Quebec City, Carrier ranked third among all Olympiques skaters and first among team defensemen in points (12g-43a-55pts) in 68 games played in 2014-15. Carrier, the captain of the Gatineau squad, has represented Canada twice on the international stage – playing in seven games for his country at the 2014 IIHF Under-18 World Championship and in five games with Canada at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
Jeff Kealty, Preds Chief Amateur Scout, on Alexandre Carrier:

“He’s really built as a defenseman for the way the game is played today. He’s a very good skater, he’s great on his edges and he’s got terrific hockey sense. He moves the puck real well, he can get up in the offense and he can play defensively. He’s not the biggest guy, but he uses that sense and instinct to defend with his stick and his angles. He’s got all sorts of character and leadership. He’s the captain of the team in Gatineau, plays huge minutes in all situations, so we just think he’s going to get better and better. If he continues to grow and get stronger, he could turn into a terrific player.”

On his leadership:

“You’re always looking for guys who have character, guys that do the right things, that play hard, that lead the way. It just makes your entire group better and he’s one of those guys for his junior team right now. We think he’ll be one of those guys going forward with us.”

NHL player comparable:

“He’s maybe a little bit like Jared Spurgeon who plays in Minnesota. Just one of these real mobile guys that can play in every situation because of his hockey sense.”


Karel Vejmelka – Fifth Round, 145th Overall

6-3, 202 pounds – Goaltender, Pardubice Jr., CZREP-JR.

2014-15: 2.86 GAA, .922 SV%, in seven games played

Karel Vejmelka is the first goalie the Predators have selected since the 2013 Draft. Selected from Pardubice Junior of the Czech Junior League, Vejmelka recorded a 1.36 goals-against average and a .953 save percentage with the club in 2014-15. A native of Trebic, Vejmelka has represented the Czech Republic several times on the international junior stage and earned the silver medal with the Czech’s Under-18 World Championship team in 2014. The 19-year-old is currently signed to HC Dynamo Pardubice for the 2015-16 season.

Martin Bakula, Preds European Scout, on Karel Vejmekla:

“Karel is a big goalie, he’s almost 6-foot-4, over 200 pounds. For his size, he is really mobile and smooth. He played in Czech Junior League and he got some games for the men’s team in the playoffs. He did really well as a member of the Czech under-20 team. He’s got lots of upside, his talent is great, and I think he’s going to be a good goalie for our goalie coaches to work with.”

On Vejmelka being in the 2014 NHL Draft:

“He’s been through the Draft one year. I liked him a lot but just wanted to make sure that everything’s right with him. So we kept watching him this year and he did really well in the Junior League, and did very well with the men’s team where there was lots of pressure on him. I got good information about him from the coaches, so we’re glad to have him.”

The goaltender’s strengths:

“He’s in control with all of his moves. He doesn’t get out of position, and he controls the rebounds very well. He’s catching right, he’s got a right glove, so I think that’s an advantage. But I think his biggest devise is how smooth he is, he’s very mobile and can read the play very well.”


Tyler Moy – Six Round, 175th Overall

6-0, 195 pounds – Center, Harvard University, ECAC

2014-15: 12g-15a (27 pts) in 37 games played

A native of San Diego, Moy skated in all 37 of the Crimson’s games during his 2014-15 sophomore season where he is teammates with Preds prospect Jimmy Vesey. Moy finished the season with 27 points (12g-15a), fourth among Harvard skaters, and earned the Donald Angier Trophy as Harvard’s most improved player. Prior to his time at Harvard, Moy spent a season with the USHL’s Omaha Lancers and was an Illinois AAA State Champion with the Chicago Fury in 2012.

Tom Nolan, Preds North American Amateur Scout, on Moy:

“He’s a 6-2 center, and he’s very versatile. He’s played defense, he’s played wing, but mostly last season he was playing center, and that’s where we see him going forward. Just a real smart, two-way, big guy that can skate. He’s really smart, moves the puck well and knows how to use his body to shield and protect. We just feel he is ready to take off, he had a great year this year, so we’re just looking for more improvement for him going forward.”

On his path from San Diego to Harvard:

“He played in the USHL and had some ups and downs in the USHL. He was always a smart player and just never really got the production. He’s been put in a good situation at Harvard and things are just taking off for him. We’re looking forward to it; we think this is a really good pick.”

Moy’s development before the NHL:

“He’ll definitely go back to Harvard and [Predators Player Development Coach] Scott Nichol will take over from here. He does a great job, so I just feel his development will go even further with Scottie working with him, doing video with him and everything. He’s a smart kid, so I think he’ll absorb everything and just keep on improving.”

Evan Smith – Seven Round, 205th Overall

6-6, 174 pounds – Goaltender, Austin Bruins, NAHL

2014-15: 1.73 GAA, .923 SV&, in 15 games played

Smith, a native of Parker, Colo., went 12-1-1 with Austin in 2014-15 and recorded a 1.73 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage. The 6-7, 205-pound backstop, who was named to the NAHL Top Prospects game in 2015, has plans to play for Victoria in the Western Hockey League in 2015-16 where he will compete for the starting job.

Ryan Rezmierski, North American Amateur Scout, on Evan Smith:

“He’s almost 6-foot-7, 170 pounds, an athletic kid who moves well. He’s obviously got long limbs and covers a lot of the net. He has a huge frame to fill in and get better. It’s an obvious pick that’s going to pay off hopefully down the road. He’s got to fill into his body and keep working on his game, but he’s got a huge upside.”

Smith’s strengths:

“He covers a lot of the ice. He’s really competitive, he’s focused and mentally strong. He’s got a really good on-ice coverage; his ice awareness is good, his legs cover, he seals the ice well and kind of moves into pucks well because of his size…He’s got huge upsides, and he’s got to get stronger and just learn to play the game a little bit faster.”

On Smith’s future development:

“He’s drafted by Victoria in the Western Hockey League, so his plan is to go there next year and compete for the starting job. They’ve got an older kid there and he’s going to battle for that No. 1 spot then hopefully if he doesn’t get it this year, he’ll push and get it the year after.”