Tuesday’s 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames was an example of just what the Nashville Predators always have professed to be – a team built through the draft.
Three of the four goals and all eight assists came from homegrown draft picks. And for the most part they were early selections.
The eight point producers included the first pick in franchise history, David Legwand, and the most recent first-round selection, Seth Jones. Seven of them were first or second-round selections, a.k.a. the rounds in which teams are supposed to find NHL players.
The breakdown of Tuesday’s points from draft picks:
David Legwand (1998) – three assists
Ryan Ellis (2009) – one goal, one assist
Seth Jones (2013) – one assist
Shea Weber (2003) – one goal
Kevin Klein (2003) – one assist
Roman Josi (2008) – one assist
Nick Spaling (2007) – one assist
Craig Smith (2009) – one goal
The lone exception was the third-period goal from free agent left wing Viktor Stalberg, which extended the lead to 4-1 with 9:08 to play.
Stalberg was one of four free agent forwards Nashville signed during the offseason when franchise officials overcompensated for one terrible, injury-riddled, lockout-shortened season. All four signed for multiple seasons – three of them for four seasons each – and delayed indefinitely the NHL arrival of more high draft picks such as Austin Watson (first round, 2010), Zach Budish (second round, 2009), Taylor Beck (third round, 2009) and Miikka Salomaki (second round, 2011), all currently among the leading scorers at Milwaukee.
The Predators’ aim always has been to build through the draft. Tuesday’s triumph was reason to wonder why they felt the need last summer to rebuild through free agency.