Predators Select Six Players in 2022 NHL Draft

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2022 nhl draft
Photo from NHL.com

Nashville, Tenn. (July 8, 2022) – The Nashville Predators made six selections in the 2022 NHL Draft from the Bell Centre in Montreal, taking four forwards and two defensemen.

“We’re very happy with this year’s draft class,” Predators Assistant General Manager/Director of Scouting Jeff Kealty said. “It started with our first-round pick falling to us, and then in the later rounds, we were able to get some players who our scouts were excited about heading into the draft. We let the best player guide what we do, but when you can fill in different spots and balance things out a bit, it’s always a good thing as well, and I feel we accomplished that.”

“We were ecstatic to get a goal scorer in the first round and we got some really good picks to fill the cupboard in our organization,” Predators Chief Amateur Scout Tom Nolan said. “We added some size and some skill, and we are excited for the future with the players we were able to draft.”

In Thursday’s first round, Nashville selected forward Joakim Kemell with the 17th overall pick. Kemell skated in his first full professional season with JYP of the Finnish Liiga in 2021-22, tallying 23 points (15g-8a) in 39 games. He led all Liiga rookies and was tied for third on his team in goals with 15; his 23 points were the second-most among U-19 skaters in his league. The 5-foot-11, 171-pound right wing made his Liiga debut at age 17 and became the youngest player in league history to score a goal in each of his first two career games. Prior to turning pro, Kemell competed for JYP’s U-20 side, leading his team in goals (22) and points (36) during the 2020-21 campaign. At the international level, the Jyväskylä, Finland, native was named to his country’s roster for the 2022 World Junior Championship, earned bronze at the 2022 U-18 World Championship and was an alternate captain at the 2021 Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he was tied for third in goals with five.

“He’s versatile, but the first thing about him is that he’s a goal scorer,” Predators European Scout Janne Kekalainen said. “He’s an extremely confident kid and has a presence and swagger about him. He can shoot from all places and knows how to finish.”

The Predators began the Draft’s second day with two third-round selections taken within two picks of each other.

Nashville chose forward Adam Ingram at No. 82 overall. The No. 27-ranked North American skater per NHL Central Scouting, he produced at more than a point-per-game rate during his rookie USHL campaign in 2021-22, tallying 55 points (26g-29a) in 54 contests with the Youngstown Phantoms. Ingram, a West St. Paul, Man., native, earned a spot on the USHL’s All-Rookie Team and led Youngstown in both goals and points. The 6-foot-2, 161-pound center is committed to play collegiate hockey at St. Cloud State in 2022-23.

“He’s a tall, wiry, skilled and smart hockey player,” Predators North American Scout David Westby said. “We think he’s going to be a big kid when he is done developing physically. He’s a competitive kid who can play wing and center, sees the ice well and can make plays.”

Two picks later at No. 84 overall, the Predators selected defenseman Kasper Kulonummi to close out the third round. A 6-foot, 178-pound native of Helsinki, Finland, Kulonummi spent most of the 2021-22 campaign with Jokerit’s U-20 squad, posting 29 points (3g-26a) in 40 games while serving as an alternate captain. He led all U-19 blueliners in his league in assists (26) and was third in points; he also was named to the league’s First All-Star Team. He earned a bronze medal and sported an ‘A’ on his sweater with Finland at the 2022 U-18 World Championship.

“He has a high hockey IQ,” Kekalainen said. “He’s extremely intelligent and manages the game well, especially with the puck, always giving himself options and making the right plays. He jumps into the play at the right time when needed. He approaches things with his smarts and is able to stay out of trouble because of that.”

In the fourth round, the Predators selected forward Cole O’Hara at No. 114 overall. He completed his second USHL season with the Tri-City Storm in 2021-22, finishing tied for second on his team in goals (25) and third in both points (73) and assists (48). The 5-foot-11, 192-pound right wing has compiled 101 points (36g-65a) and is committed to play collegiate hockey at UMass Amherst in 2022-23. He is a native of Richmond Hill, Ont.

“He’s relentless, like a dog on a bone, and has a great work ethic,” Westby said. “He’s got good size and speed, can make plays and has an ability to score goals. We’re excited about him going to UMass Amherst and being teammates with Ryan Ufko, another one of our prospects.”

The Predators then traded their second choice of the fourth round, No. 122 overall (Dennis Hildeby), to Toronto for a fourth-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.

Nashville used its fifth-round pick (146th overall) on Graham Sward, a defenseman from the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound blueliner notched 10 goals, 33 assists and 43 points in 57 games for Spokane in 2021-22, establishing WHL career highs in all three categories. A native of Abbotsford, B.C., Sward was second among Chiefs skaters in points and assists (33) and brought his career WHL point total to 62 (14g-48a) in 124 contests.

“Graham is a solid defenseman who plays a smooth game and moves the puck really well,” Predators North American Scout Glen Sanders said. “He’s going to be a big body and is going to play a lot of minutes in Spokane this season, so we’re looking forward to the role he could play for us in the future.”

With its final pick of the 2022 NHL Draft, the Predators selected forward Ben Strinden in the seventh round (210th overall). The 6-foot, 193-pound center completed his second USHL season with Muskegon in 2021-22 and tallied 56 points (25g-31a), a 46-point improvement from his rookie campaign (1g-9a). He added seven points (3g-4a) in nine postseason games for the Lumberjacks while serving as an alternate captain. The Fargo, N.D., native is committed to play collegiate hockey at North Dakota in 2022-23.

“He’s a center with good size and is hard to play against,” Westby said. “He’s another good competitor who we’ve targeted in this draft – great work ethic with speed.”

The Predators’ hockey operations staff now turns their focus to the team’s development camp, which runs July 11-15, and the start of free agency, which begins July 13 at 11 a.m. CT.

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