Wednesday, July 24, 2013

30 Teams in 30 Days: Nashville Predators

Up next, Nashville (and their one OHL prospect).

Mikko Vainonen - Kingston Frontenacs
Vainonen came as advertised this year and was a steady/reliable top 4 defenseman for the Fronts. He's certainly not flashy but did a great job acting as defense partner to Michael Moffat, who's more of a roving offensive type. He makes smart decisions with the puck in his own zone, is capable of completing accurate breakout passes and even saw some time on the powerplay. While he looked a tad stiff running the point, he generally was able to move the puck well and showed patience and poise. Defensively he was solid. He makes good reads in the defensive zone and positions himself well off the rush. He's certainly more of a stay at home type and I think projects as that at the next level. He wasn't one to lead the rush or jump up in the play offensively this year (at least from what I saw). His skating is only average too, which I think leads him to be less aggressive offensively. He can also be taken wide by quicker forwards off the rush, but generally does a good job of giving them space and using his stick to drive them wide of the net. Next year seems fairly up in there for Vainonen. I've seen sources suggesting he's heading back to HIFK (in Finland) next year. He's also already signed his ELC with Nashville and is eligible to play in the AHL (because he was drafted out of Europe). In addition, Kingston has not given up his rights (they passed on both of their selections at this year's Import Draft) and obviously hold out hope that he'll return to them in 2013/2014. I guess we'll eventually see where he ends up. I know the Fronts are anticipating that he'll return, so I'd put that as the most likely destination. If he's in Kingston, I'd expect him to crack the 30 point plateau while continuing to play solid defense, helping the Fronts improve.

*The Preds elected not to sign Plymouth/Oshawa import Simon Karlsson, making him a free agent.