Will forward Colin Wilson follow in the footsteps of former Nashville Predators forward Scott Hartnell and step from the Entry Draft to the NHL, or will he return for his sophomore year at Boston University for some more seasoning?
Speaking from the floor of the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa Friday night, the site of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, David Poile appeared to be certain that Wilson was heading back to college. But earlier this week Poile, the Predators president of hockey operations/general manager, didn’t sound as certain.
“I’m going to take that under advisement,” Poile said.
Physically, Wilson is ready to play in the NHL. He has stated that he wants to be given a shot to make the team in training camp in September. Wilson was the seventh player selected in the draft. The first five selections are expected to get the chance to play in the NHL with their respective teams this season.
“He is a man,” Poile said. “He is only 18, but he has the strength and physical size to play in the NHL. We’re going to sit down and take a look at it.”
The Predators’ top prospects are in town this week for development camp. They are on the ice from 10 to 11 a.m. Thursday and Friday at Centennial Sportsplex.
TEAM USA INVITEES: Defenseman Jonathon Blum and goaltender Jeremy Smith have been invited to attend the Team USA Junior Evaluation Camp Aug. 1-9 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Both played on the 2008 U.S. National Junior Team. They will be trying out for a team that will compete in the 2009 International Hockey Federation World Junior Championships Dec. 26, 2008 through Jan. 5, 2009 in Ottawa, Ontario.
FREE AGENT STATUS: The Predators have made qualifying offers to defensemen Kevin Klein and Ville Koistinen and added forwards Rich Peverley and Matt Ellison. Forward Brandon Bochenski was not given a qualifying offer.
SULLIVAN UPDATE: The news about the rehab work for forward Steve Sullivan has not been overly encouraging. Poile is expected to evaluate Sullivan’s progress again in mid-July. One piece of the puzzle missing for the Predators for next season is a top-six forward. A healthy Sullivan, who missed all of last season with back problems, would solve that problem.
Poile is also eyeing forward Patric Hornqvist, a forward who is playing in Sweden, as another possibility for that top six role.
“Hornqvist played in a top six role in Europe this past season,” Poile said.
GRANT JOINS PREDS: Poile has been wondering what to do about filling Darcy Hordichuk’s role. Hordichuk was traded to the Carolina Hurricanes for a conditional fifth round pick in the 2009 draft. It appears that Hordichuk is going to test the free agent market July 1 rather than signing with the Hurricanes. That means that the Predators will have to send a fifth-round draft pick in the 2010 draft to Carolina.
The Predators did add forward Triston Grant, 24, obtained from the Philadelphia Flyers Tuesday for defenseman Janne Niskala who played last season with the Milwaukee Admirals. Grant has also been given a qualifying offer by the Predators.
Grant has spent most of the last three seasons playing for the Philadelphia Phantoms, the top farm club for the Flyers. He did play in eight games last season for the Flyers, earning one assist and 10 penalty minutes.
Just where Grant, known for his physical play, will fit in is uncertain.
“I want to sit down with our coaches over the weekend and determine what level of player we need in terms of physical player,” Poile said. “Do we need someone like Hordichuk or do we need something else?”
Niskala had 44 points for the Milwaukee Admirals last season, including 19 goals, tops among the defensemen.
The Flyers also sent a seventh round pick in the 2010 Entry Draft to the Predators. The Predators have 12 picks in the draft which will be held in Montreal, Quebec next June.