Could 2009 Be David Poile’s Best Draft?

The Predators drafted Ryan Ellis, Taylor Beck, Michael Latta, Mattias Ekholm, Craig Smith and Gabriel Bourque in the first five rounds of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Could it become David Poile's masterpiece?

I n the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, the Predators drafted Ryan Ellis, Zach Budish, Charles-Olivier Roussel, Taylor Beck, Michael Latta, Craig Smith, Mattias Ekholm and Gabriel Bourque in the first five rounds.

Few Predators fans could have envisioned the sort of record breaking junior career that Ryan Ellis would embark on after being drafted by Nashville. (Sarah Fuqua)

As most know, Ryan Ellis went on to a stellar junior career with the Windsor Spitfires and Team Canada before joining the Milwaukee Admirals for this spring’s playoff run. Nashville’s first pick at #11 in the 2009 Draft, all Ellis did in Windsor was break pretty much any trophy shelf he had in his house. In his four years with the Spitfires, Ellis scored 313 points (73 G – 240 A)  in 226 games, shattering the team defenseman record of 229, which was held by Chicago coach Joel Quenneville. In addition, Ellis added 88 playoff points (19 G – 69 A) in 62 playoff games. Perhaps Ellis’ greatest statistical accomplishment, however, are his 25 career World Juniors points (5 G – 20 A), which ranks him first all-time among defensemen. Since being drafted in 2009 by the Predators, Ellis has been named CHL Player of the Year, CHL Defenseman of the Year, OHL Player of the Year, OHL Defenseman of the Year, World Juniors Best Defenseman and a World Juniors All Star.

Taylor Beck and Michael Latta combined for over 300 points with the Guelph Storm in the past two seasons. (Sarah Fuqua)

Taylor Beck doesn’t quite bring Ryan Ellis’ credentials to the table, but then again, who does? Drafted in the third round, #70 overall from the OHL’s Guelph Storm, Beck exploded onto the scene after being picked by Nashville. Prior to the 2009 Draft, Beck was considered a decent prospect with 79 points (29 G – 50 A) in 123 games. After the Draft, however, Beck racked up 188 points (81 G – 107 A) in 123 games. In 2010, Beck actually won the OHL’s Jim Mahon Memorial Trophy as the leading right-wing scorer in the league and was named to the leagues Second All-Star Team. In 2011, his 95 points merely ranked him 7th in the league in scoring.

Beck’s Guelph teammate, Michael Latta, was drafted just two spots later in the third round at #72 overall. In Latta’s two full seasons in Guelph, he scored 162 points (67 G – 95 A) in 126 games. In 2010-11, the only player on the team who outscored him was Beck. The tandem came to the Admirals at the same time in 2011.

Wisconsin's Craig Smith is the latest 2009 Draft pick to sign with the Predators organization.(Sarah Fuqua)

Wisconsin’s Craig Smith was drafted in the fourth round at #98 overall. In his two seasons at Wisconsin, he has produced at a pace slightly under a point per game, scoring 76 points (27 G – 49 A) in 82 games. During his freshman season, in which he was teammates with current Predator Blake Geoffrion, he was named to the WCHA All-Rookie Team. After the latest season, he was invited to play with Team USA in the IIHF World Championship in Slovakia, where he racked up 6 points (3 G – 3A) and went home as Team USA’s second leading scorer.

Sweden’s Mattias Ekholm was drafted in the fourth round, #102 overall. In 2010-11, Ekholm played a full professional season with Brynäs IF of Sweden’s Elitserien, Sweden’s major league, winning the league’s Rookie of the Year award. For the two seasons prior, Ekholm played with Mora IK in HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s second highest league. In other words, Ekholm has been playing against men for the past two seasons and succeeding.

Mattias Ekholm captured the 2011 SEL Rookie of the Year Award. (Sarah Fuqua)

Gabriel Bourque is the only member of the 2009 Draft class to play a full professional season in North America so far. Drafted out of the QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the fifth round at #132 overall, Bourque played the entire 2010-11 season in Milwaukee with the Admirals, scoring 36 points (18 G – 18 A) in 78 games. However, Bourque’s 13 playoff points (7 G – 6A) led the team – mostly due to the 2009 QMJHL playoff MVP’s 5 point explosion in the opening game against the Texas Stars.

Zach Budish, the Predators second round pick at #41 overall, has been hampered by injuries over the past couple of seasons and will most likely stick out his full four years before heading to the professional ranks. Charles Olivier-Roussel, drafted in the second round at #42 has seemingly regressed in the past couple of seasons and is now considered a longshot. The Predators’ final pick of the draft, Cam Reid, is currently playing at St. Cloud State.

Gabriel Bourque was the first of the Predators' 2009 picks to play a full professional season in North America. (Sarah Fuqua)

There are six players – Ellis, Beck, Latta, Smith, Ekholm and Bourque – who could potentially crack the Predators roster in the next couple of years that have come out of this one draft. Poile’s 2003 Draft is considered by many to be his masterpiece, with three defensemen – Ryan Suter, Kevin Klein, and Shea Weber – earning significant roles on the Predators through multiple seasons. One other player from that draft have ever seen the ice in Nashville – Alex Sulzer. Perhaps the most memorable aspect of this Draft, however, is that David Poile actually drafted Konstantin Glazachev ahead of both Weber and Klein.

All put together, if the 2009 Draft pans out the way that it looks on paper, it would be Poile’s new gold standard. The big question is – will it?

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A native of Franklin, Tennessee, Patten Fuqua is the managing editor of PuckScene.com. He earned a Bachelor’s of Science from Belmont University in Journalism and Broadcasting.