Predators look to add picks and take advantage of deep draft

Thursday, June 24, 2010 at 10:30pm

David Poile did not need to review a lot of film peruse scouting reports in the last couple weeks to get a sense of how many good players are available in the 2010 NHL draft. All the Nashville Predators’ general manager had to do was listen to his phone.

“I know it’s a good draft because (our scouts) are basically calling me every day wondering when I’m going to replace the second and fourth-round picks because they want more picks this year,” Poile said recently. “I have to get busy and see if maybe I can help them out a little bit so that we can have a good and a deep draft.”

The Predators are scheduled to make just six picks in this year’s draft, which takes place this weekend at Los Angeles (round 1 7 p.m. Friday; rounds 2-7 noon Saturday). They have one each in the first, third, fifth and sixth rounds and two in the seventh.

The franchise has made fewer than seven selections just once in 12 drafts. That was 2006, when it had just five picks.

Poile traded this year’s second-round choice (48th overall) to Edmonton in the deal that brought defenseman Denis Grebeshkov to the team shortly before the league’s trade deadline. The fourth-round selection (108th overall) was sent to Calgary for forward Dustin Boyd in the final minutes before the trade deadline.

As such, Nashville currently has just two of the top 125 picks, beginning with its first-round pick, No. 18 overall.

“We’ve been a little spoiled in the last few drafts,” Poile said. “… We’ve had a lot of extra picks. There’s no question, in hockey a little bit of quantity certainly gets you quality.

“I can certainly take the pressure off if I could trade somebody or something to get a second-round pick.”

To do that, Poile said he is willing to entertain offers to move back in the first round. Another possibility is that he might trade the extra second-round pick in 2011 he recently got from New Jersey as part of the trade for Jason Arnott for a comparable choice this year.

Nine different teams have multiple second-round picks, led by Carolina and Florida with three each. Only four have more than one choice in the fourth round.

 “I don’t want to give up more than I’ve already given up,” he said. “We’re missing a second and a fourth-round pick. To give up another asset to move up, I don’t think it’s worth it. Plus, I think. Who we’ve identified – two or three players – I’m confident that at least of them will be there. So if we do anything, I would probably say we’d maybe move back a little bit in the first round. Maybe that will get us a second (round) or third (round) pick.”

Only once have the Predators picked later than 18th in the first round. They got defenseman Jonathon Blum 23rd overall in 2007. The previous year they did not have a first-round choice and made their first pick at 56th overall, which is where they got 2010 Hobey Baker Award winner Blake Geoffrion.

Twice Nashville had the 18th overall selection. It got goalie Chet Pickard at that spot (its second overall choice) in 2008 and defenseman Ryan Parent there in 2005. Parent recently was reacquired in a trade with Philadelphia for defenseman Dan Hamhuis.

“I’m very confident that we’re going to get a real good player at the No. 18 pick,” Poile said. “I would say, in our minds, we are pretty confident within two or three players of who that’s going to be.

“On balance … we would certainly favor taking a forward on our first pick. … I just ask the scouts to draft the best player to give us assets.”

This time, the scouts are asking him for more opportunities to make those picks.