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Predators forward Rem Pitlick is one of a handful of rookies who could earn an NHL roster spot next year. (Photo by Casey Gower/Nashvlle Post)

The Nashville Predators’ rookie-fueled march to the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs has been a well-documented phenomenon.

Twelve rookies at one point or another contributed to the NHL club, with players such as Eeli Tolvanen, Alex Carrier, Yakov Trenin and Tanner Jeannot not only helped lead a season resurgence but made strong cases for full-time roster spots next season.

"We found out we had some good, young players, some good depth, guys that could step in and contribute," GM David Poile said last week. "Our younger players just gave us a huge, huge boost."

Several of the Predators' top prospects helped the Chicago Wolves to a 21-9-1-2 record and 45 points this season — fifth-best in the AHL. Six of Chicago’s top 10 scorers were Predators prospects, including leading scorer Philip Tomasino, who had 32 points and 13 goals in 29 games.

The Predators have plenty of young talent to build around as next season approaches. Tomasino, who was voted Nashville’s No. 1 prospect in a recent poll on the Post's sports Twitter account, was mentioned by name by Poile as a player who could have a good shot at earning an NHL roster spot in training camp. 

Jeannot seemingly has a third- or fourth-line spot locked down for next year. Defensemen Jeremy Davies and David Farrance could be viable options to compete for a third-pairing job next year as well.

"From a coaching perspective, it was great," Predators coach John Hynes said. "I think we all saw how much impact the younger guys had on the team… We had guys come up, and they didn't just survive in the NHL. They were impact players for our team and they helped turn the season around.”

With that in mind, who could be next year’s Eeli Tolvanen or Alex Carrier? Nashville has a pretty stocked cupboard in terms of players that are close to NHL ready. To make things easier, we grouped the team’s prospects into tiers based on their NHL potential. Our final assessments are listed below:

Tier 1: Potential to be good to great NHLers, likely top-six players

  • Philip Tomasino, C, Chicago Wolves (AHL)
  • Yaroslav Askarov, G, SKA Saint Petersburg (KHL)
  • Egor Afanasyev, LW, CSKA Moscow (KHL)
  • David Farrance, D, Boston University (NCAA)
  • Connor Ingram, G, Nashville Predators taxi squad
  • Rem Pitlick, RW, Chicago Wolves (AHL)

Tier 2: Potential to reach Tier 1, likely above-average NHL players

  • Jeremy Davies, D, Chicago Wolves (AHL)
  • Marc Del Gaizo, D, UMass (NCAA)
  • Frederic Allard, D, Chicago Wolves (AHL)
  • Luke Evangelista, RW, London Knights (OHL)
  • Tommy Novak, C, Chicago Wolves (AHL)

Tier 3: Potential to be serviceable NHLers, likely role players

  • Jusso Parssinen, C/LW, TPS (Finland)
  • Semyon Chistyakov, D, Avangard Omsk (KHL)
  • Tomas Vomacka, G, Connecticut (NCAA)
  • Alexander Campbell, LW, Clarkson (NCAA)
  • Anthony Richard, C, Chicago Wolves (AHL)
  • Grant Mismash, C/LW, North Dakota (NCAA)
  • Jachym Kondelik, C, Connecticut (NCAA)
  • Gunnarwolfe Fontaine, LW, Northeastern (NCAA)

Tier 4: Potential to be fringe NHL players, likely fourth-line options

  • Patrick Harper, C/LW, Chicago Wolves (AHL)
  • Spencer Stastney, D, Notre Dame (NCAA)
  • Luke Prokop, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
  • Adam Wilsby, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)
  • Vladislav Yeryomenko, D, Dinamo Minsk (KHL)
  • Isak Walther, LW, Sodertalke (Sweden)
  • Lukas Craggs, LW, Chicago Wolves (AHL)
  • Chase McLane, C, Penn State (NCAA)
  • Luke Reid, D, New Hampshire (NCAA)
  • Devin Cooley, G, Florida Everblades (ECHL)
  • Konstantin Volkov, G, Yugura (Russia-2)

And our top 10 organizational prospects:

  1. Philip Tomasino
  2. Yaroslav Askarov
  3. David Farrance
  4. Rem Pitlick
  5. Egor Afanasyev
  6. Connor Ingram
  7. Jeremy Davies
  8. Luke Evangelista
  9. Frederic Allard
  10. Tommy Novak

Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_

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