Predators getting ready for franchise’s biggest draft

Friday, May 2, 2008 at 1:59am

He is 6-foot-7 and plays defense. It can’t be known beyond a reasonable doubt, but the chances are good he has never visited Nashville.

But according to at least two 2008 NHL mock drafts, David Poile, the president of hockey operations/general manager for the Nashville Predators, will call the name of Tyler Myers at the 2008 NHL draft. Myers spent the past season toiling for Kelowna Rockers of the Western Hockey League.

“Who knows what will happen,” said Poile, who will have two first round picks for the first time in the history of the franchise. “He is rated fourth by the Central Scouting Bureau. That means something, but it doesn’t mean everything.

“There are Europeans who could be taken or goaltenders who could be picked. We have to go through the process. Our ratings for players are going to be different than someone else’s.”

Poile has been meeting with his scouts from around the world this week in Nashville to develop a draft strategy. His next stop is the World Championships being held next week in Quebec and Nova Scotia.

Regardless of who the Predators take with the No. 9 pick in the draft — a selection obtained from the Florida Panthers last year as part of the trade that sent goaltender Tomas Vokoun to the Sunshine state — this draft will be a significant one. At the No. 15 spot, the Predators have a second first-round pick. In the second round they also have a pair of selections, one of which came to the Predators via the Vokoun trade. Barring any compensation picks, the Predators could have four of the top 45 selections.

Poile is hoping that the decision to trade Vokoun, announced just minutes before the start of the 2007 Entry Draft in Columbus, Ohio, will pay future dividends.

“Last year the bad news was that we had to get rid of some people and Vokoun was one of them,” Poile said. “The good news was all of our scouts were telling me this draft was going to be pretty good.

“I had to get to a payroll number and he was making the most money on our team. I could have traded three players making $2 million each or trade Vokoun who was making $5.7 million. When you went through all of the scenarios, he was the one that had to go. If there is a silver lining to that trade, we will find out June 20 and 21 at the draft in Ottawa.”

Myers, a 210-pounder, has played two seasons for Kelowna. This past season he finished with 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 65 games. Myers, a right-handed shooter, was born in Houston, Texas, but calls DeWinton, Alberta, home.

“The one thing with Tyler is that his size is something that you can’t teach,” said Kelowna coach Ryan Huska in a scouting report. “He is very big, and for a guy his size, he skates very well. He is very fluid on the ice.

“He’s got a lot of composure with the puck. I think that is one of the reasons why a lot of NHL scouts are fairly high on him right now. He’s starting to understand that he can use his size to his advantage in our own zone. He is becoming a really good player defensively. He makes it very difficult for opponents to get around him in the defensive end.”

With the 15th overall selection, one mock draft has the Predators picking 5-11 center Joshua Bailey from Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League. The other mock draft thinks the Predators will go for another defenseman, choosing Colten Teubert, 6-3, 190 pounds, from Regina of the Western Hockey League.

They also have four more picks with one each in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

“It is the best draft position we have ever been in, no question,” said assistant general manger Paul Fenton. “With four picks in the top 45 we have the ability to help this franchise for a long time.

“That’s why our scouts have galloped around the globe and really done their research. They have analyzed these guys to death. Now we just have to put it in order and take the right players.”

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By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 6:00