Preds move up to get defenseman in second round

Sunday, June 22, 2008 at 12:20am

The Nashville Predators are bringing home two goaltenders, two defensemen, three forwards and one third round pick and two fourth round selections in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.

And they didn’t even have to pay any extra luggage fees.

“This was a great draft for us,” said David Poile, president of hockey operations/general manager for the Predators. “With (center) Colin Wilson and (goaltender) Chet Pickard in the first round and (defenseman) Roman Josi in the second we have three players we think are going to be NHL players for many years.

“I will take quality over quantity every time. If our scouts are right this is going to be one of our more memorable weekends as a franchise.”

Poile predicted Friday night that all would be quieter in terms of trades on the second day of the NHL Entry Draft.

But the Predators table on the floor of the Scotiabank Center in Ottawa , Ontario , was buzzing with activity from almost the time the second round of the draft began Saturday morning. The Predators were set with six picks, but all that changed quickly.

In order to guarantee the selection of defenseman Roman Josi from Bern of the Swiss League, the Predators traded their 46th and 76th picks to the Phoenix Coyotes in order to move up to 38th. Some of the Predators' scouts had predicted Josi might go in the first round.

Josi, 6-foot-1, 183 pounds, had eight points (two goals) in 35 games last season for Bern . Predators chief amateur scout Jeff Kealty made a passionate plea for the selection of Josi.

“We had Josi rated in the top part of the first round,” Poile said. “When we got back to the hotel Friday night to reorganize after the first round Jeff Kealty said we needed to pick Josi even if we had to move up to do it.

“We gave up a second-round pick and a third-round pick. That was a pretty high price. But we felt like it gave us a third first-round pick with him still there in the second. He is very talented. He is tall and he is going to fill out his frame and get stronger.”

The Predators traded their 106th pick to San Jose Sharks for the 207th selection in this weekend’s draft and fourth-round pick in 2009.

Next, the Predators traded their 111th pick to the New York Rangers for their 201st selection this weekend and a fourth-round selection in 2009.

The primary reason for those deals was the Predators scouts thought they would be better off with extra fourth-round picks in next year’s draft which is expected to be as good as this one. The Predators have 11 picks for the 2009 Entry Draft.

“We have an extra third, two extra fourths, and if Carolina signs Darcy Hordichuk we will have an extra fifth-round pick in the 2009 draft,” Poile said. “Our scouts, projecting to next year, liked some players that will be eligible next year better than they did some of the players on our list in the third and fourth rounds this weekend. We will know more about how good the 2009 draft will be in October or November.”

The Predators did not make a deal concerning their 136th pick in the fifth round. They chose Taylor Stefishen, a 5-foot-11 left wing from North Vancouver , B.C. Last season he played for the Langley Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League. He finished with 81 points (33 goals) in 57 games.

Stefishen is scheduled to play next season for Ohio State .

The Predators also retained their 166th pick in the sixth round. They chose Jeffrey Foss, a defenseman from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy , N.Y. He played in 38 games as a freshman last season. He scored four points and earned 28 penalty minutes. He played against the top offensive players in the ECAC. He was also draft eligible last season.

“Right now we rate Stefishen and Foss as role players,” Poile said. “They are college prospects with one having played one season and one getting ready to get started.”

With their two picks in the seventh round the Predators chose center Jani Lajunen, 6-1, 174 pounds, who plays in the junior leagues Finland with the 201st pick and .goaltender Anders Lindback from Sweden, a 6-foot-6, 198-pounder.

Lajunen played in 25 games last season with 14 points (four goals). Lindback had a 3.07 goals against average last season and a .905 save percentage splitting time between Byrias of the Swedish Elite League and Almtuna of the Swedish Second Division

Janne Kekalainen, a European scout for the Predators, strongly suggested the drafting of Lajunen. Kekalainen found defenseman Ville Koistinen, signed as a free agent; forward Antti Pilhstrom, also a free agent signing; and goaltender Pekka Rinne, an eighth round pick in the 2004 Entry Draft.

“Each year Janne finds a player that not too many people know about,” Poile said. “He’s a late bloomer. We will see how he goes. Janne has a good track record.”

The Predators also see a little bit of Rinne in Lindback.

“Lindback is an unknown,” Poile said. “He had some health problems last season and that might have scared some people away. He is a wild card, but that is what seventh round picks are all about.”

The Predators open their Prospects Development Camp Tuesday. Wilson, Pickard and Josi will be in attendance.

Filed under: Sports
By: nashbeck on 12/31/69 at 6:00

Go Preds!!!!