Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Last pick 2005 to First line in Predators 2009


He was the longshot of the 2005 draft, the 230th pick off the board, the final selection of the Nashville Predators.
Yet there was Patric Hornqvist on the first line for Monday's meeting with the Oilers. The Swedish winger is blossomimg into a gem for the Preds, who had sent him to the American Hockey League last season so he could polish his game.
He did just that and in his first three games with the Preds he put away two goals and assisted on two others. He has stepped into the vacancy left by J. P. Dumont (concussion) and proven he should remain in the top six when the veteran returns.
"Sometimes you're a late bloomer," said the rookie, "and I got a good opportunity in Sweden the year after my draft year ... It's all about opportunities. When you get the chance, you have to take it."
Since 1969, only eight of the 41 players selected with the final pick have gone on to play at least one NHL game. Of those eight, only three have scored more than four goals.
"I feel more confident now, more comfortable on and off the ice," said Hornqvist, who broke the Sweden Elite League record for goals scored by a junior (23) in 2006-07. The record had belonged to Peter Forsberg.
"Last year I learned what I needed to do to be in the NHL. I saw how fast the game was and made the adjustments. I feel stronger and faster on my skates."
"The game has slowed down for him," said Nashville head coach Barry Trotz.
"That's the biggest thing with young players. The game quickens so much that when they do have time and space they don't realize it--and when they don't have it, they don't realize it either, so they tend to lose their confidence.
"When it does slow down, they can use their vision, their skills, all the things that made them good players. If he doesn't score now, he's creating a chance for somebody else. He goes to the hard areas, battles for pucks."
Chorney moves in
Sheldon Souray was moved to the injured reserve list, opening up a spot for Taylor Chorney.
The rookie defenceman was recalled from the Springfield Falcons to round out the blue-line. Not only is Souray out with a concussion, but Steve Staios has a few lingering symptoms from the knock to the head that kept him out of Thursday's game against Calgary.
He was scratched again on Monday.
"(Staios) still has some fuzz going, on so we want to be cautious," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said, "and we liked (Chorney) at camp. He's a real prospect for this team."
Chorney did have a strong camp, but didn't have a shot at making the team with the depth the Oilers had on the blue-line.
"Training camp is different for me than it is for a guy who's played five, 10 years in the league," said Chorney, who flew from Hartford to Nashville on Monday morning, then found hmself playing alongside Ladislav Smid.
"I'm trying to establish myself and camp is important," he said. "Then, if you do get sent down, you're still on the radar screen."
small world for coaches
It was Edmonton assistant Wayne Fleming who saw to it that Barry Trotz would be bitten by the coaching bug.
Back in his playing days, Trotz, the long-serving Predators bench boss, was a student of Fleming's at the University of Manitoba.
When a broken back put an end to Trotz's playing career, Fleming asked if he wanted to stay on.
"For the rest of the year, I pushed pucks and listened and put my two cents in whenever he asked," said Trotz. "I got the coaching bug back then."
The ties don't end there. Every summer, Trotz joins the crowd at a golf tournament in Kamloops that Tom Renney helps organize.
Doubling up in net
Tandem 'tending has become a tradition in Nashville where this season's goaltending duo, Pekka Rinne and Dan Ellis, had the NHL's second-lowest goals against average prior to the arrival of the Oilers. The two were 1.67 and had not given up a first-period goal.
Rinne, a tidy 3-0 against the Oilers last season, got the start on Monday and was rung up for four first-period tallies.
Ellis will get the next two games.
"I wanted to take the indecision away from them. It clears the air," said Trotz.
"You get focused on being the best you can be for two games and the other guy does the same.
"I see no reason not to do it. In this situation, both goaltenders are going to be in ... (and) if you can't get games and wins from your second goaltender, you're not going to make the playoffs. It's plain and simple. There's too much at stake and too little wiggle room when it comes to getting in (to the top eight) in this conference."
Welcome to the big time
Colin Wilson made his NHL debut on Monday for Nashville. The rookie is following in the footsteps of his father Carey Wilson, whose career spanned 12 seasons.
The younger Wilson turns 20 next week.
"He's a mountain of a man, so I think he'll be fine," said Trotz.
The Predators made the Boston University standout their first pick in the 2008 draft. His NHL debut had been postponed because of a strained groin.

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