The NHL draft is complete and the Nashville Predators who hosted the event came added 11 young men to their core of prospects. The first round was highlighted with two picks: Matthew Wood a right winger who just completed his first season in Storrs, Connecticut playing for the UCONN Huskies, and Tanner Molendyk a defenseman who spent last season playing for the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League. Day saw the Preds bring in nine more prospects to the organization including seven more forwards, a goalie, and a defenseman.
At fifteenth overall Nashville selected Matthew Wood. Wood played his hockey at the University of Connecticut where he was the youngest player in all of NCAA Division 1. Wood did not turn 18 until February 6, meaning he played about half the season at 17. Even though Wood was the youngest player in all of college hockey he still nearly put up a point per game garnering 34 points in 35 games with the Huskies. He tallied 11 goals while serving 23 assists during the 2022-2023 campaign. He was considered to be a top 20 prospect by most outlets while a top ten prospect among North American skaters. Wood never went two consecutive games without having a point during his college career, something Predators fans hope he can bring to this team in the future. He is expected to return for one more season at UCONN so he may not throw on the gold and navy blue until late 2024 or the beginning of the next season.
At pick 23 the Predators select blueliner Tanner Molendyk a defenseman playing his hockey in the WHL for Saskatoon. In his 2023-2024 season, he racked up 37 points with nine goals and 28 assists in 67 games. He is smaller than your average NHL defenseman weighing in at 181 with a height of 5-11. But he has speed on the ice which makes up for being undersized. Most consider Molendyk to be a two-way defenseman with a wicked shot. He was a projected top 10 to 15 defenseman in this year's NHL draft.
The Predators added nine more prospects in Barry Trotz’s goal of retooling this team that missed the playoffs last year for the first time in nearly a decade. Trotz spoke recently about his vision of a parade on Broadway and he believes that this core of young talent can help bring the cup to Smashville.
2nd round picks: Kalan Lind & Felix Nilsson
Alek Kisiel / Wnsr Columnist
@AlekKisiel on Twitter