The Nashville Predators are taking a page out of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ book.
On Thursday, the Preds announced that Kevin Fiala — their first-round pick (13th overall) at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft — would be leaving Swedish league club HV71 to join their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.
“We would like to commend and thank former Nashville Predator and HV71 Head Coach Andreas Johansson for his mentorship of Kevin both on and off the ice over the past season and a half and wish them the best in their playoff push,” Preds GM David Poile said in a statement. “However, we feel that Kevin’s development into an NHL-ready player is best served by playing the duration of the 2014-15 season under the guidance of Milwaukee Head Coach Dean Evason and Assistant Coach Stan Drulia in the Predators system.
“By getting a head start on the acclimation process to the North American style of play and smaller rinks, we expect Kevin – like Filip Forsberg two seasons ago – will continue his growth as a dynamic offensive prospect.”
This move is identical to what Toronto did with it’s ’14 first-rounder — William Nylander, taken eighth overall — last week.
The Leafs moved Nylander from SHL Modo to the Marlies in an effort to acclimate him to the North American game; like Fiala, Nylander is fresh off competing at the 2015 World Junior Championships (Nylander for Sweden, Fiala for Switzerland) and in the midst of a good Swedish league campaign (Nylander has 20 points in 21 games, Fiala 14 in 20.)