Thursday, November 30 2023

The Nashville Predators used their two first round picks in Wednesday’s NHL Draft to bolster two areas of need in their prospect pool.

Nashville selected UConn right-winger Matthew Wood with the No. 15 pick and defenseman Tanner Molendyk with the No. 24 pick.

Wood is a big-bodied player who has scored well in U18 and college hockey games over the last year, while Molendyk is an undersized defenseman whose speed and puck ability vaulted him into first round contention.

Here’s how The Tennessean graded the Predators’ first round picks:

Nashville Predators NHL Draft grades: RW Matthew Wood at No. 15 overall

Instant grade: A-minus

Analysis: Wood scored 7 goals in 7 games in the World Junior Championships U18 tournament and was just short of a point-per-game player as a freshman at UConn. His shot is considered (by The Athletic’s Corey Pronman) as one of the best in the draft class, and he’s got good size at 6-foot-4 and 197 pounds. Everyone is looking for a top-line power forward a la Florida’s Matthew Tkachuk following his electric Stanley Cup playoff run, and Wood’s size and ability with the puck is evident.

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Nashville needs more scoring ability in its prospect ranks, and Wood qualifies nicely.

D Tanner Molendyk at No. 24 overall

Instant grade: B

Analysis: This is good balance for the Predators in the first round, adding a defenseman after adding a scoring winger earlier in the round. The Athletic’s Corey Pronman rates Molendyk’s skating as “Above NHL average,” and it shows on game film. He’ll need to increase his hockey IQ in understanding angles and engaging with players on the puck. But Molendyk’s movement skills and some promising plays with the puck on the offensive end shows his promise as a pro.

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Nashville’s prospect defenseman group needed help, and Molendyk is a high-reward addition. The Preds should continue to add to the blue line in the second round, too.

More NHL Draft, Nashville Predators news

LEARN ABOUT THE NO. 15 PICK: Meet Nashville Predators top NHL Draft pick Matthew Wood: Everything to know

NHL DRAFT TRACKER: NHL Draft 2023 updates: Connor Bedard goes No.1, plus all picks, trades, tracker

NEARING RETIREMENT: How Nashville Predators honored David Poile with Gibson guitar to open 2023 NHL Draft

PREDATORS NHL DRAFT PICKS: Nashville Predators NHL Draft picks 2023: Every pick the Predators make in Barry Trotz’s first draft

This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Nashville Predators NHL Draft grades: Matthew Wood, Tanner Molendyk

Source: Yahoo Sports

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