Second round does not mean second rate.
That effectively sums up the Nashville Predators’ approach to the 2012 NHL draft, which begins with Rounds 1 Friday (6 p.m., NBC Sports Network) and concludes with the final six rounds Saturday (9 a.m., NHL Network).
Barring some sort of trade, Nashville will be without a first-round pick for the second straight year and just the third time in franchise history. It does have a pair of second-round selections — Nos. 37 and 50 overall — courtesy of last week’s trade that sent goalie Anders Lindback and minor league forward Kyle Wilson to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That makes this the sixth time it has multiple second-round selections.
In all, the team has nine picks, including three in the sixth round.
“It’s a good draft,” general manager David Poile said. “I wouldn’t say it’s a great draft, but our people have identified players that they think could be available in every round. So our guys are anxious there.”
The second round has not always been good to the Predators but has been more productive in recent years. Among players on the current roster, defensemen Shea Weber and Kevin Klein (2003), forward Nick Spaling (2007) and defenseman Roman Josi (2008) all were second-round picks by the franchise.
Last season they took Swedish goalie Magnus Hellberg 38th overall. Hellberg recently signed an entry level contract, which cleared the way for him to make his North American debut this fall.
The only other time Nashville did not have a first-round choice was 2006. Then, its first pick was forward Blake Geofrrion (56th overall), who played 44 games for the Predators over parts of the past two seasons. He was traded to Montreal this past February.
“It’s always an exciting time,” Poile said. “The draft is where the future lies and it certainly has been very good to the Predators over the last couple of years.”