(St. Paul, MN) The Nashville Predators head into the first day of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft tonight, sitting on the sidelines watching with no first round pick at the current time for the first time since 2006 when they chose Blake Geoffrion with the 56th overall pick in the second round. Ottawa will draft in the Preds' spot which went to them in the Mike Fisher trade in February.
The first round of the draft will be televised tonight starting at 6 p.m. CDT on Versus. On Saturday, rounds two through seven will be on the NHL Network beginning at 10 a.m. The event is being held at the Ecell Energy Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, with the Minnesota Wild serving as the host.
Barring a trade, the Predators first shot at at a pick will come early on Saturday morning in the second round with the 38th overall pick which was acquired from New Jersey last summer when Jason Arnott was traded to the Devils. They will pick again in the second round with their own pick at 52.
Without a first round pick the Predators will probably be looking at the best player available when their selections come up. It would be highly unlikely that if the Preds stay with their current picks that they would receive a player that would be ready to step into the team's roster at training camp in September.
It is expected that most of the players chosen will attend the Predators' Development Camp that will begin Monday and run through July 4 at Centennial Sportsplex. They will join the remaining top prospects from the organization in the week long session where all the Predators' coaches get a good look at where each player is at this stage of their development.
The top three things to watch for for the Predators during the draft weekend would include:
1- Will the Predators make a trade to move up in the draft. David Poile has indicated that he has received several inquires from other teams that might be willing to part with their first round pick for the right asset.
2- With the brass of all thirty teams in the same room, it would be an opportunity for the Preds to make a player for player trade with another team exclusive of draft picks. Both Poile and Barry Trotz have indicated that obtaining a top six forward is the primary need of the team and that going the free agent route to do so is unlikely.
3. The Predators are using the draft as an opportunity to meet with the agents of several players including Jarrett Bousquet who represents Shea Weber. Could there be a signing announced?
Finally, one other tidbit that is interesting is that the Predators new road jersey will be debuted with the team's runner wearing it throughout Friday evening. There have been several pictures floating about in the last 24 hours but we should have a look at the sweater officially later this afternoon.
Here is a complete list of the Predators picks in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft:
Round 1 - None (Traded to Ottawa as part of the Mike Fisher trade)
Round 2 - 38 From New Jersey (Jason Arnott Trade)
Round 2 - 52 Nashville Predators Own Pick
Round 3 - 82 Nashville Predators Own Pick
Round 4 - 94 From Florida (Mike Santorelli Trade)
Round 4 - 112 Nashville Predators Own Pick
Round 5- 142 Nashville Predators Own Pick
Round 6 - 172 Nashville Predators Own Pick
Round 7 - 202 Nashville Predators Own Pick
Buddy Oakes for PredsOntheGlass