Nashville Predators’ 2012 Draft Class

The 2012 NHL Entry Draft is in the books from Pittsburgh, PA. The Nashville Predators have drafted their nine players that will hopefully benefit the team in the near future. Nashville and their scouting staff were able to get two players with their 37th overall and 50th overall pick that will help the Predators out soon. Those two guys are Pontus Aberg and Colton Sissons, who were both ranked higher than they were picked at.

Check out the draft board and the prospect profiles after the jump.

2012 Nashville Predators Draft Class

RD Pick Overall Player Pos Country HT LBS Team League
2 7 37 Pontus Aberg LW Sweden 5’11 189 Swedish Elite League Djurgarden
2 20 50 Colton Sissons C Canada 6’0 187 WHL Kelowna
3 5 66 Jimmy Vesey LW USA 6’1 194 EJHL South Shore
3 28 89 Brendan Leipsic    LW Canada 5’8 165 WHL Portland
4 21 112 Zachary Stepan C USA 5’11 165 MN High School Shattuck-St. Mary’s
4 27 118 Mikko Vainonen D Finland 6’2 222 Finnish Jr. HIFK Jr.
6 13 164 Simon Fernholm D Sweden 6’4 187 SEL-Jr. Huddinge Jr. 
6 21 172 Max Gortz RW Sweden 6’2 196 SEL-Jr. Farjestad Jr.
6 28 179 Marek Mazanec G Czech Republic 6’4 187 Czech Rep. Plzen

Pontus Aberg

The first pick of the draft made by the Nashville Predators was Swedish forward, Pontus Aberg. Aberg was ranked 22 in The Hockey News‘s Draft Preview magazine. The now Swedish prospect has worked out with Patric Hornqvist in the past, so both of them are familiar with each other. 

Aberg played for Djurgarden in the Elitserian league in Sweden. At Djurgarden, Aberg scored eight goals, seven assists in 47 games. Not bad, but needs to improve. 

Here is his scouting report from “The Scouting”:

“Aberg is a versatile winger who has tremendous straightaway speed and skating ability. As an undersized player, a lot of Aberg’s success hinges on his speed, which he utilizes every game. Aberg is a dynamic player who has good agility and the ability to find his way through traffic. He has above average offensive upside and is accomplished both as a scorer and a set-up man. Aberg competes hard and rarely takes a shift off which also makes up for some of the size concerns some may have. Overall, Aberg has the potential to be a Top 6 forward in the NHL but if he can develop as a PK guy, he should still be able to find a role as a Bottom 6 player who can create matchup problems with his speed.”

According to the scouring report, he is almost a perfect guy for Barry Trotz. Pontus Aberg’s speed will allow him to get precious penalty kill time that is so valuable to Trotz. Also, Aberg has the ability to become a scorer on this team. He loves to shoot!

“I like to shoot the puck from anywhere on the ice,” said Aberg about his playing ability. This is a great mindset when joining the Predators, where there is a lack of shooting. 

Here is his media session and compilation of his goals.

Colton Sissons

Center, Colton Sissons was drafted by Nashville out the Kelowna Rockets in the Western Hockey League. Sissons can not only play center, but also right wing, which makes him a versatile player. Many scouts say he is a better right wing than center because he “doesn’t see the ice well.”

This guy is a Predator player all around. Colton Sissons is a two-way forward who has a high work ethic and continues to improve his game. More specifically, his defensive game. Also, with his 6’1″ size, it allows him to be more physical than others, which he doesn’t shy away from.

“Agressive, work ethic is high, NHL shot…,” said one NHL scout.

Last season with the Rockets, Sissons scored 26 goals and added 15 assists in 58 games.

Here is a Colton Sissons scouting report by Nicholas Coucet of “My NHL”.

NHL Central Scouting made Colton Sissons the highest rated prospect in this year’s draft from the Western Hockey League (WHL) for a reason; the guy can flat out play the game of hockey. His numbers that he put up throughout his CHL career certainly don’t jump off the page at you; however he brings a complete game to the rink every night. Sissons stands at 6’ 1” and weighs 195 pounds and let me tell you good luck getting him off the puck. He is the definition of a power forward and this will certainly help his draft stock as teams are always looking to add size and players that aren’t scared to dig in the corners.

What stands out most about Colton Sissons other than his size are his leadership capabilities. He was named team Captain of the Kelowna Rockets this past year and he always was matched against the best players the WHL had to offer. On top of that he was invited to the CHL top prospects game where he was named team Captain of Team Orr. This guy is a leader in every level of hockey he has played and he instantly earns respect for his heart and soul style of play. He is a shut down defensive forward who will contribute offensively at an NHL level. He is a high energy player who always knows where he needs to be at the right times on the ice. Any team in the NHL would be happy to have a character guy like Colton Sissons be a part of their organization. After a few years in the AHL Sissons should be ready to make is impact in the NHL. Trust me this is a guy who has already proven he can succeed at any level and the NHL will be no different.

Here is Sissons’ media session and player profile.

Jimmy Vesey

The Nashville Predators made a surprising pick in the 3rd round at pick number five. They selected Jimmy Vesey out of the South Shore Kings in the Eastern Junior Hockey League. Where?!?

I was about as shocked as anyone, but the scouting staff must see something about his game that many don’t. The EJHL is a low end league that doesn’t produce many NHLers or get any attention. So, there isn’t many skilled players in the league that make it as competitive at the CHL, USHL or over in Europe.

In the EJHL, Vesey scored 48 goals and added 43 assists. He pretty much dominated that league and is looking to rise to a bigger challenge. Vesey has a commitment to Harvard for hockey.

From looking at YouTube videos, Jimmy Vesey isn’t scared of dropping the gloves. That is the only video of him on YouTube. That explains his 52 penalty minutes with South Shore.

This kid is a big project that I feel, if he does have the heart, he could become a great player in the NHL. The pick was surprising, so surprise us Jimmy!

Brendan Leipsic

The Predators took Brendan Leipsic with their fourth pick of the draft in the third round at 89 overall. Don’t let his 5’9 size full you, as he is known to play on the edge and drop the gloves. Leipsic isn’t afraid to throw his body around either. Relatable player, Jordin Tootoo.

Even though he plays on the edge, Brendan Leipsic has skill. His speed allows him to get to pucks faster and blow by defenseman to go one-on-one with the goalie. Leipsic will be an effective player for the Predators and I can’t wait to see this kid on the ice.

With Portland in the WHL, Leipsic scored 28 goals, 30 assists and racked up 82 penalty minutes in 65 games.

Here is his scouting report:

Leipsic’s offensive skills are impressive. In particular, he’s able to use his speed and surprising strength to drive the opposition crazy. Brendan’s willingness to battle is a major asset, especially for a smaller player. He doesn’t shy away from the physical side of the game. His hands in tight are impressive, as he can ready himself for a shot very quickly in traffic. He is crafty with the puck on his stick.

Here was ‘The Hockey News’ had to say about him:

“Small but speedy, Leipsic made a habit of multi-point outbursts.”

Zachary Stepan

With the 112th overall pick in the 4th round, the Predators selected Zachary Stepan. And yes, he is related to the New York Ranger forward, Derek Stepan. They are cousins. ‘The Hockey News’ ranked Stepan at 86, but Nashville was lucky to get this kid.

Zach Stepan is a center out of Shattuck St. Mary’s out of the USHS. As most of you know, Shattuck is a hockey factory in Minnesota. Shattuck has produced players like Sidney Crosby, Zach Parise and so much more. Stepan could be a hidden gem in this draft due to the way Shattuck produces their players, NHL ready.

In Shattuck, Stepan scored 22 goals, 43 assists in 50 games. This is another good pick by the Predators and, as I said before, a hidden gem.

Here is what ‘The Hockey News’ had to say about Zach Stepan.

“Character player wins faceoffs, plays the body.”

Mikko Vainonen

With the 118th pick of the draft, the Predators took Finnish forward, Mikko Vainonen. Vainonen was the captain of the Finland national team at the U18 World Junior’s. He is a good leader and will bring leadership through this draft class and the ones following.

Playing in the Jr. A SM-liiga with HIFK Jr., Vainonen scored seven goals, eleven assists in 38 games. Vainonen isn’t a scorer. He is more of a grinder that isn’t afraid to drop the gloves and use the body.

Here is the scouting report from ‘Hockey’s Future’.

“Vainonen made his SM-Liiga debut – appearing in eight games for HIFK – and was a key member of HIFK’s Finnish national champion U20 team. He was a team captain for Finland at the U18 World Junior Championship. Vainonen played six early season games and two more in February  – averaging just under 11 minutes of ice time – and was minus-one with 2 penalty minutes for third-place HIFK. He did not play in the SM-Liiga playoffs. Vainonen was the second-leading scorer amongst defensemen behind Jori Pakkanen on the U20 team – finishing with 7 goals and 11 assists in 38 games; and was plus-seven with 44 penalty minutes. HIFK U20 defeated Jokerit in the playoff finals after finishing fifth in the regular season. In ten playoff games Vainonen had 1 assist and was an even plus-minus with 12 penalty minutes. Vainonen had 4 assists and was an even plus/minus with 8 penalty minutes in seven games at the U18 WJC for fourth-place Finland. He was selected by Donbass Donetsk in the second round (68th overall) of the 2012 KHL Draft. Vainonen was invited to the NHL Draft Combine and was ranked 11th amongst European skaters in Central Scouting’s final rankings prior to the 2012 NHL Draft.”

Simon Fernholm

This 6’4 defenseman out Huddinge in the Super Elite League, was drafted 164th overall by Nashville. There isn’t too much about him, but this Swedish defenseman adds size to the Preds. From scouts, they say he is simple and safe. Not flashy and exciting. Fernholm won’t wow you with skill, whatsoever, but is an effective defenseman.

Here is a scouting report from ‘Elite’.

“A big stay-at-home defenseman. Fernholm has great reach and plays a very sound game in his own zone. Not very spectacular. Tries to make simple plays. Is mobile for his size, but could still work some on his skating. Should play more physical with the size advantage he has.”

Max Gortz

The Predators elected to choose their third and final Swede of the draft by selecting Max Gortz, 172nd overall. Gortz plays for Farjestad in the Elitserien. Last season, in the SuperElite junior, Gortz scored 17 goals, 18 assists in 28 games.

His father was also a professional Swedish hockey player. Unfortunately, father Leif Gortz didn’t make it to the NHL. Now, it is his son’s chance to make it big.

Here is a scouting report from ‘Elite’.

“A big and strong forward. Has pretty good feet and challenges his opponents. Has a good release and solid technical skills.”

Marek Mazanec

The last pick taken by the Predators is hopefully not least. Marek Mazanec is a goalie out of the Czech Republic. This goalie has big size at 6’4. If you are going to take a goalie this late, look for size.

Last season, Mazanec played for Plzen in the Czech Extraliga. There, he had a 12-7-0 record, 1 shutout, 2.96 GAA and .900 SV % in 19 games played in.

Not too much on Mazanec, but it should be fun to see how Mitch Korn works with him. Mazanec has a lot of room for improvement and Korn is the man for the job. I don’t see Mazanec ever playing the Nashville Predators, however.