Predators Development Camp Takeaways, New Faces on The Block (2024)

Day four of development camp was a packed house as the Nashville Predators staff & fans came out to watch the three-on-three games.

From general manager Barry Trotz to head coach Andrew Brunette the Predators were locked in taking a look at their future. New assistant coach Darby Hendrickson was also taking in development camp after being hired by the Predators on June 21.

Development coach Mark Borowiecki has been hands-on this week & taking in a lot of new faces who were drafted last week. He’s seen a lot of growth from returning skaters like Tanner Molendyk & Matthew Wood.

“On day one Scott Ford & I pulled [Wood] aside & told him he looked a lot bigger, more like a man now which is great to see,” Borowiecki said. “That body awareness, moving through space but also moving against opponents. You can really see that growth from him physically & athletically.”

Nashville’s staff has been impressed with his shot and knows it’ll only improve this fall when Wood plays for the University of Minnesota.

Borowiecki was also impressed with the talent of Molendyk & new addition Andrew Gibson from the first few days at camp. He said they’ve all been sponges this week & have taken well to breaking down video.

“Tanner looks more like a man too. In terms of his weight now he’s thicker but his skating and stick handling are fantastic,” Borowiecki said.

Tanner Molendyk

After Friday’s skating session, Borowiecki expressed how skating impresses him the most when looking for reliable players. Since last summer Molendyk has showcased that consistently in all situations.

“For me, in the NHL I was worried about these guys who could skate, it’s tough to defend against,” Borowiecki said. “There’s two ways to look at skating. There were small guys quick in spaces & some guys that had separation gear that could cover the ice. I think he has both which is fantastic to see.”

Molendyk said his main goal is to maintain the size he’s put on to reach the next level. While the Predators are happy with where he stands, Molendyk also wants to work on his stick-handling & shot.

“I want to stay at the weight I am now around 195ish & if I grow I grow,” Molendyk said.

Coming into camp this week the defenseman said he’d not skated this summer before arriving in Nashville. His confidence is there but he had to knock some rust off once he got on the ice.

“I feel good but I had to get my hands going. You guys probably saw me fall about 14 times out there which happens but it’ll all come along,” Molendyk said.

The defenseman will be back for training camp in September & then Nashville will decide to either keep him around or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades.

Andrew Gibson

At the beginning of camp Gibson said he had mixed emotions about the trade to Nashville after being in his neck of woods as a LaSalle, Ontario native just 45 minutes outside of Detroit.

“I went through the day like I always have & then as soon as I got home I got a call & they told me I was traded to Nashville,” Gibson said. “At the start, I couldn’t believe it, at the start I had been in Detriot so the thought of being traded this young shocked me a little bit.”

Borowiecki may not have been familiar with Gibson but after seeing him first hand has high expectations of the defenseman.

“I was joking with the staff after we got him that when he texted me he called me Mr. Borowiecki. I texted Scott Nichol and said I love this kid he called me Mr. Borowiecki. I corrected him and said to just call me Boro,” a laughing Borowiecki said. “He’s a big body and has good jump and skill. I’ve been very impressed.”

Andrew Gibson (53) has been a standout to me at development camp as well. Skating & awareness are most evident. Just a sample here

— Nick Kieser🏒 (@KieserNick) July 5, 2024

Trotz traded a second-round pick and prospect Jesse Kiiskinen (drafted 2023) to the Red Wings on June 25 a few days ahead of the NHL draft. Nashville’s GM wanted to draft Gibson last year but the Red Wings nabbed the right-handed defenseman.

“I take it as a compliment & I can’t thank him enough for believing in me, my talents, & my work ethic. I’ll work as hard as I can to prove myself & prove I was worth that much,” Gibson said.

The defenseman said he was a fan of Ryan Ellis’ when he was watching hockey at a younger age, hence why he wears the number six and still does with the Soo Greyhounds.

“Watching him play I was awestruck by him & wanted to be a right-handed defenseman,” Gibson said. “Being able to follow in his footsteps in a way now & see how he was developed, that excites me & I’m so happy to be here.”

Gibson may not be able to grow the same beard as Ryan Ellis, but he does hope to model his game after Chris Tanev at the next level one day.

“I want to be a reliable right-handed defenseman that can kill penalties, shut down guys, block shots, & play on the offensive side,” Gibson said. “I think I took a huge step in the defensive side of my game this season. I was relied on for penalty kills and blocking shots.”

As he moves into next season Gibson hopes to join more on the rush and be patient with the puck in the offensive zone.

Teddy Stiga

Coming out of the United State’s developmental under-17 team forward Teddy Stiga was just glad he heard his name called while sitting in the stands at the Sphere in Las Vegas, Nevada.

“You never know where you’re going to go. I saw myself all over the board so I didn’t go in with any expectations,” Stiga said. “You could say it went longer than some people thought but I think it was the right spot. Now it’s time to put in the work so I guess in my mind it doesn’t matter where I went, just glad I went to a great team like Nashville.”

Teddy Stiga (87) on a shift during the 3v3 & a shootout goal.

— Nick Kieser🏒 (@KieserNick) July 5, 2024

Stiga will be attending Boston College this fall after posting 38 points in 27 games in the USHL last season. He finished second among all scorers with future high draft pick James Hagens ahead with 47 points.

“I think I’m a real good competitor, I like to battle and win my battles. I think I’ve got a lot of skill & I try to use that & my speed,” Stiga said. “I like to say I’m a two-way player priding myself on both sides of the puck.”

During the three-on-three format, Stiga felt he was able to showcase what he was best at in terms of decision-making & knowing some of the guys on the ice as well. He was able to wear a visitor for the first time this week and now has his focus set on being an Eagle this fall.

Follow Nick Kieser on Twitter/X:@KieserNick

Photo courtesy of Nashville Predators

Predators Development Camp Takeaways, New Faces on The Block (2024)


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