Admirals Sign Rob Madore and Triston Grant

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Rob Madore, who featured in the Cincinnati Cyclones 2014 Kelly Cup run, has inked an AHL contract with the Milwaukee Admirals. (Photo Credit: Cincinnati Cyclones // Facebook)

For those of you that became Scott Darling fans last season, that were bummed out to hear that he had signed a deal with the Chicago Blackhawks organization, and wondered who could be that third-man in when it came to the Admirals goaltending situation – great news! Today, the Milwaukee Admirals have announced the signing of Rob Madore to an AHL contract.

Madore was phenomenal during the Cincinnati Cyclones Kelly Cup playoff run this past season. In 24 playoff games he won 14 games, posted a 2.29 goals against average, a 0.930 save percentage, and took home the MVP honors for the playoffs – becoming the first man in ECHL history to win it on the losing side of the Finals.

In addition to that news, the Milwaukee Admirals have also signed Triston Grant to a one-year AHL contract. Grant was a member of the Admirals from 2008-10. In those two-seasons he produced 36 points (15 goals, 21 assists) and amassed 389 penalty minutes. Last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins he played 51 games, scored 16 points (6 goals, 10 assists), recorded 103 penalty minutes, and had a plus/minus rating of +6. At the age of 30-years old he brings much needed veteran experience to an incredibly young 2014-15 Admirals roster.

Also worth noting, for those still awaiting Scott Ford news, the addition of Grant could be a boost for one more season. The two are best buddies after all .

What are your thoughts on today’s signings by the Milwaukee Admirals? What does the addition of Rob Madore mean for Magnus Hellberg?

Posted in News | 5 Comments

Summer Ramblings, Vol. 9

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Filip Forsberg is one of a few players on the outside looking in when it comes to making the starting Nashville roster. If he doesn’t make it – is it such a bad thing? (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The news front hasn’t exactly been as booming as it had been when David Poile made four-signings in one-day last Tuesday. That doesn’t mean we can’t keep chatting up what those moves mean for Nashville and Milwaukee, though.

The Predators have added James Neal (trade), Olli Jokinen (free agent), Mike Ribeiro (free agent), Derek Roy (free agent) during this off-season. The moves have not only made a solid impact on the team’s top two forward lines but also the trickle down effect that has on the entire system. According to Thomas Willis of Predlines, this is what a potential 2014-15 Nashville Predators forward line combination could look like:

James Neal-Mike Ribeiro-Craig Smith
Colin Wilson-Derek Roy-Olli Jokinen
Viktor Stalberg-Calle Jarnkrok-Matt Cullen
Eric Nystrom-Paul Gaustad-Gabriel Borque

I feel like that is a pretty safe bet. The talking point I heard a fair bit of when it came to the Ribeiro and Roy signings was the immediate impact it has on the likes of Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, Miikka Salomaki, Filip Forsberg, and Austin Watson. In my book, Calle makes the NHL roster over Colton to start the season. And the latter should all probably find themselves in Milwaukee barring outrageously good pre-season showings. Also, this shouldn’t be viewed as a set back for the young guns in any way shape or form.

Sissons made a great first impression with the Admirals as a 20-year old first-year pro: 62 games, 44 points (25 goals, 19 assists), 8 penalty minutes, and a plus/minus rating of -3. He also played a grand total of 17 games in the NHL while producing 4 goal (1 goal, 3 assists). If he has lost out on an NHL role for the Preds to start the season he instantly becomes the Admirals top-line center and will be tasked with playing a multitude of roles and different game situations. He will turn 21-years old in November. Sissons could still benefit from another year of AHL duty. In doing so, the Admirals will also benefit from his all-around services from the center position.

Salomaki and Forsberg are two of the young wingers that can make a push for NHL spots right now. If I had to pick which one is the more NHL ready prospect – I would side with Salomaki over Forsberg. Salomaki didn’t just lead the Admirals in scoring last season with 50 points (20 goals, 30 assists). He also displayed a tremendous ability to make quick plays and play physically along the boards. Those are the types of abilities that would make him useful right now in Nashville on the lower-tier forward lines. Forsberg’s defensive abilities can still use some honing in upon and, as skilled as he is, he probably could use a full-season to display consistency on the offensive side of the puck. Filip, who will turn 20-years old in August, can show his brilliance in spurts. To see him lay it down game after game, think Jarnkrok last season after his acquisition from Detroit, is just what it takes to get to the NHL.

Another name that kicked up during discussions I’ve had or read with the Predators off-season is what it means for Mr. Watson. My answer? It is very important to remember where he finished last season. He was on a scoring binge and really found another gear in the latter stages of the regular season. Why? Because he was no longer playing center – he was playing on the wing. I project Watson, at best, to be a useful third or forth line winger that has that scoring touch you want from a lower-line forward but best of all a good defensive mind on his shoulders. He was too slow on the ice to maintain centering a line combination of himself with Salomaki and fellow Finn Joonas Rask last season. I think him moving on the wing allows him to better focus on the ice and move around a lot more freely. Watson’s focus this season should be to pick up where he left off and on being a solid winger in Milwaukee with a chance to get an NHL call up – something he never earned last season.

Lastly, I can’t help but applaud the Predators on signing guys such as Jokinen, Ribeiro, and Roy on one-year deals. They are all low-risk players with affordable contracts that can be dealt at the trade deadline should the Preds be sellers by then. They managed to cash in on Martin Erat and David Legwand for young prospects the previous two-seasons. Literally the worst case scenario from the free agent signings made by Poile is a venture back to the trade market that has produced for him Forsberg and Jarnkrok. It either works for this season with the veteran forwards or it works down the road with youth under head coach Peter Laviolette – something he tends to handle rather well.

Thoughts on the battle for NHL positions in Nashville? Is Calle Jarnkrok a lock or could we see him back in Milwaukee? Are there any other deserving players that should be under consideration by the Predators for NHL spots?

Posted in Ramblings | 2 Comments

Fiala and Arvidsson Ink Entry-Level Contracts

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Kevin Fiala was the Predators first round draft choice this year. Can he make the NHL roster at the age of 18-years old? (Photo Credit: Nashville Predators)

The Nashville Predators keep producing the paperwork. The Predators have just signed Kevin Fiala and Viktor Arvidsson to three-year entry level contracts. Slow news day, eh?

Fiala was the Preds first round selection (11th overall) in the 2014 NHL Draft. He will turn 18-years old in exactly a week’s time.

Predators Press Release on Fiala:

Nashville, Tennessee – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed 2014 first-round selection (11th overall) Kevin Fiala to a three-year entry-level contract.

Fiala, 17 (7/22/96), was a finalist for the 2014 Swedish Hockey League Rookie of the Year Award after tying for the lead in points among all under-18 SHL players with 11 (3g-8a) in 17 games for HV71. The 5-10, 180-pound winger started the 2013-14 season with the HV71 junior squad, ranking among the league leaders in goals (10), assists (15) and points (25) in 27 games before his January promotion. The dynamic offensive forward with game-breaking potential spent his first season in Sweden in 2012-13 with the Malmo organization, posting 10 points (6g-4a) in nine games at the under-18 level and 28 points (9g-19a) in 33 games at the junior level.

A native of St. Gallen, Switzerland, Fiala represented his homeland at the World Junior Championship, Under-18 World Championship and World Championship in 2014, becoming just the third player ever to participate in all three tournaments in the same year (Andrei Kostitsyn and Vadim Karagan, Belarus in 2003). Fiala led the Swiss in points at both the under-18 tournament (4g-5a-9pts, 5gp), was named one of the nation’s three best players in the process, and World Juniors (1g-4a-5pts, 5gp) as the team’s youngest member. At 17, he was the youngest member of Switzerland’s entry at the World Championship by three years, posting three assists and a team-best +3 rating playing alongside Predators defenseman Roman Josi and forward Simon Moser.

He speaks five languages – Czech, English, French, German and Swedish – and is on Twitter @KevinFiala22.

The other entry level signing also happens to be a member of the Preds 2014 Draft Class. Arvidsson was selected in the fourth round (112th overall) and is a 21-year old Swedish winger. He and Fiala both made a splash at the recent Predators rookie development camp with some crafty shootout moves:

Predators Press Release on Arvidsson:

Nashville, Tenn. – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the Predators have signed 2014 fourth-round selection Viktor Arvidsson to a three-year entry-level contract.

Arvidsson, 21 (4/8/93), ranked ninth in the Swedish Hockey League in points (16g-24a-40pts) during the 2013-14 season, then helped Skelleftea (along with newly signed Predator Johan Alm) win its second consecutive SHL title by tying for second in assists (12) and ranking third in points (16) during the postseason. During the title-winning season of 2012-13, the 5-9, 172-pound winger was named Swedish junior player of the year and a finalist for the SHL rookie of the year award, in addition to tying for fourth in playoff goals (6).

A native of Skelleftea, Arvidsson tied for eighth in goals (4) at the 2013 World Junior Championship, helping Sweden to a silver medal, and also earned silver at the 2011 Under-18 World Championship. He was a teammate of Predators prospect Filip Forsberg on both silver-medal squads, in addition to playing with prospects Pontus Aberg and Max Gortz at the 2009 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.

As Jason Karnosky alluded to in his recent story, I feel these signings all seem to benefit Milwaukee for the 2014/15 season pretty significantly. It will be a pretty young team but a very talented one.

It’s starting to look like Milwaukee’s starting center roles could shake out as: Colton Sissons (1), Brendan Leipsic (2), Mark Van Guilder (3), and Austin Watson (4). I’m thinking Calle Jarnkrok would have the upper-hand on Sissons for an NHL spot. And it’s important to not forget this in terms of Milwaukee. Watson was pushed out to the wing because his speed was lacking at the center position and really hit stride as a points producer once he joined Van Guilder’s wing. Watson should start the season as a winger – not a center. I also suspect Miikka Salomaki may be pushed back to the center position – where he was tasked to play a fair bit towards the end of last season. Lots of depth. Lots of youth. Lots of talent. And lots of options for Dean Evason and company to work with.

What do you make of the entry level signings of Fiala and Arvidsson? Does Fiala have a chance at making the Predators roster? How do today’s signings impact the Milwaukee Admirals 2014-15 season? Will the Admirals be better or worse than last season?

Posted in News | 2 Comments

What New-Look Nashville Means for Milwaukee

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Colton Sissons and Calle Jarnkrok are among Nashville Predators prospects who may miss out on starting roles at the start of the NHL season. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

In the course of two weeks Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile completed what he set out to do at the start of the preseason: overhaul the team’s center ice position.

As stated in my earlier post, with the additions of Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy, the Predators have all sorts of options to play center: The injured Mike FisherMatt CullenPaul GaustadCraig SmithColin WilsonCalle JarnkrokColton Sissons, and now the inclusion of Ribeiro, Roy and Jokinen.

So what does that mean for the likes of Jarnkrok and Sissons? Not to mention prospects such as Filip Forsberg, Austin Watson, Pontus Aberg, still unsigned restricted free agent Taylor Beck and any other two-way Predator/Milwaukee Admirals forward? There is no way around the fact that this is a bit of a slap in the face.

In his press conference this morning, Poile mentioned some potential Predators roster plans that would have Jarnkrok included:

Then again the good news is that there is always next year for the prospects sent down to Milwaukee, or maybe even just beyond the trade deadline when the Predators may have more than a few job openings. Nashville now has an attractive list of players that are on short-term deals. Five centers: Fisher, Cullen, Jokinen, Ribeiro and Roy. Defenseman Anton Volchenkov. And two-way players Joe Piskula, Mark Van Guilder, and Kevin Henderson. They are all set to become unrestricted free agents at season’s end.

It’s pretty clear that life in Nashville and Milwaukee for 2014-2015 just got a lot more competitive.

My thought is that Jarnkrok will still make Nashville in some capacity, while Sissons will likely have to wait his turn to move on up. The player’s whose NHL hopes might have been hurt the most by these transactions might be Austin Watson, who has now really slipped down on the depth chart. Nashville’s first round pick Kevin Fiala also harbors hopes of making the Predators this season, though that seems a little far fetched.

Certainly, there are going to be some pitched battles in training camp and in Nashville’s preseason games this season, and that’s something Predators coach Peter Laviolette and Admirals coach Dean Evason have to be looking forward to.

So Roundtable: How do the final Predators/top Admirals roster spots stack up? What battles are looking forward to most at training camp, and where do you think the dust will settle?

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Nashville Signs Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy

(Photo Credit: James Guillory)

Having watched free agents come and go with a high price tag, Nashville Predators GM David Poile picked up two experienced centers today. (Photo Credit: James Guillory)

What a difference a day makes. Prior to today, the Nashville Predators depth chart looked rather thin of the “top-six variety” at the center ice position. Example, here was Yahoo’s dated take on the Predators lineup. Today, Nashville has a log jam of epic proportions at center with the free agent signings of Mike Ribeiro and Derek Roy.

Predators GM David Poile announced the signings today and both Ribeiro and Roy are signed to one-year deals: Ribeiro for $1.05 million – Roy for $1 million.

Two weeks ago Poile signed center Olli Jokinen meaning that the Predators now have ten capable centers at their disposal. That includes Jokinen as well as Mike Fisher (injured), Matt Cullen, Paul Gaustad, Craig Smith, Colin Wilson, Calle Jarnkrok, Colton Sissons, and now the inclusion of Ribeiro and Roy.

The three new faces, Jokinen, Ribeiro and Roy, plus Fisher and Cullen can all leave the team as unrestricted free agents after the season.

So Roundtable:  What do you think of the new-look 2014-2015 Nashville Predators? What does that mean for those on the cuff of making the Predators or playing with the Admirals? Do you think Calle Jarnkrok and/or Colton Sissons can still win a spot with the club? Are you getting more excited about the players available for Milwaukee this season?

Posted in News | 2 Comments

Summer Ramblings, Vol. 8

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Magnus Hellberg, Colton Sissons, and Miikka Salomaki were a few of the Admirals on the winning side of the Scott Nichol Pigeon Cup winning rookie team on Saturday. (Photo Credit: Scott Nichol)

Top of the morning, Roundtable. All going well with your summer I trust? Excellent!

By now we’re all missing hockey a great deal. The good news? The Nashville Predators rookie development camp has came to fill the void. There were plenty of Milwaukee products at the camp. And it is all looking promising for future products of the Nashville system.

The camp started off with a scavenger hunt around Nashville a week ago. Making a splash in the social media circle was Marek Mazanec during the day. Having gotten to know him last season – it’s fun seeing him that little more loose and not overwhelmed by being in another country. He even was filmed for an interview and his English sounded really improved. Great to see for him!

FYI: Fairly certain Jonathan Diaby‘s troop won the scavenger hunt. I think they used his height to find things. Just a guess.

The real focus comes out of the scrimmage game that was held over the weekend on Saturday. It was all about the Scott Nichol Pigeon Cup! …as well as some feels about being back in the Bridgestone Arena.

There were some good notes for plenty of guys in the scrimmage game. Kristopher Martel of “The Predatorial” commented on the likes of Tommy Veilleux (note) and Jonathan Diaby (note). Robby Stanley of Smashville 24/7 made comment of the possible new goal song for the Preds (note) and a one-liner in regards to Filip Forsberg‘s game (note). Jeremy K. Gover of Section 303 has a story in regards to the musical change.  Max Gortz showed off some experienced grit by getting patched up on the bench and getting back on the ice – as quick as you like. Friend of the Roundtable Seth Lake also had a keen eye for Janne Juvonen rocking Admiral colored goalie gear during the game (note) – though it could have been his gear with the Lahden Pelicans sans advertisements. There was also the great sight of seeing Magnus Hellberg up to his old tricks as an interview bomber extraordinaire. Add that, as Mr. Lake mentioned in regards to tendy swag, Mag’s new custom Warrior goaltending gear in Admirals colors – which are a 10/10 in my book.

The game capped off with some absolute gems by Viktor Arvidsson and Kevin Fiala in the shootout:

Just to point at the obvious, how about the 17-year old Fiala pulling a Forsberg move on Mazanec? Pretty filthy stuff from the Preds first round pick in this year’s NHL Draft.

All in all, another real fun rookie development camp held in Nashville. If you follow enough of these prospects on Twitter you’ll see how many truly do enjoy being in the Nashville system: Sissons, Diaby, Stephan, and Leipsic to name a few. Great to see. And it’ll be great seeing plenty of the names that circulated throughout this year’s camp trickle through Milwaukee this year or the years ahead.

If you haven’t already, I suggest giving a look at the Nashville Predators website and watching all their 2014 Development Camp player interviews. It’s good stuff.

What player excites you the most out of the upcoming prospects in the Nashville Predators system? Who do you feel could make an instant impact in Nashville this season at the NHL level? Who should make the biggest impact for the Milwaukee Admirals?

Posted in Ramblings | 1 Comment

Rule Changes Coming to an AHL Near You

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The divisions in the AHL have changed. Now the rule book has been given a few tweaks. (Photo Credit: Steven Christy)

The AHL Board of Governor’s annual summer meeting has concluded. First there was the news of a realignment. Today there is the news of pretty significant rule changes to take place in the AHL starting this coming season.

Rule 85 (“Overtime”)

  • During the regular season, the sudden-death overtime period will be seven minutes (7:00) in length, preceded by a “dry scrape” of the entire ice surface.
  • Teams will change ends at the start of overtime.
  • Full playing strength will be 4-on-4 until the first whistle following three minutes of play (4:00 remaining), at which time full strength will be reduced to 3-on-3 for the duration of the overtime period.
  • If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.

Rule 20.4 (“Major Penalties”)

  • An automatic game misconduct will be applied to any player who has been assessed two major penalties for fighting or three major penalties for any infraction in the same game.

Rule 9.6 (“Helmets”)

  • A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play will be assessed a minor penalty unless he immediately (a) exits the playing surface or (b) puts the helmet back on with the chin strap properly fastened.

Interesting right? Now let’s talk about these changes starting with the new OT format.

There’s no denying that coaches, players, and plenty of fans would prefer seeing the game end competitively rather than under a shootout. This is a massive leap forward to try and alter that from being the case. That being said, it is a rather clunky start and stop way of achieving it.

Dry scraping the ice? That’s no big deal really. The goal there is to get the snow off the ice surface and provide a cleaner playing surface. Switching ends? Hey, why not? Extra two-minutes of OT? Woohoo! 4-on-4 for three-minutes and then 3-on-3 for the final four-minutes? …wait, huh?

This is where I get a little bit lost in translation and, perhaps, hope to find clarifications in the future regarding the new OT format. Because, if the majority of OT will be played in a 3-on-3, where do penalties and power-plays come into action? How are those implemented? Will we actually see a scenario where two or one player is left on the ice for a team? If not, what’s stopping players from giving a slash or hook if they’re beaten to the corner on a rush into the zone? It’s all a little confusing for now. Hopefully it gets more clarified as the days move along.

Should the game need more than OT the shootout will remain in the game. The shootout has also received a revamp. And I’m not too huge on the change. At the AHL level the shootout is a Best-of-Five format. It is now changing to the NHL’s Best-of-Three format. If people hate seeing the shootout so much because it is viewed as a gimmick? Why keep treating it like such a gimmick? The Best-of-Five format allows for more shooters and stop attempts from a goalie to make it an actual contest worth fighting for the extra point. Best-of-Three can be capped off in a blink with the team’s top snipers cashing in lickity split with no further need for the lesser skilled shootout performers taking the stage. The shootout may be frowned upon by many. But, when it is treated as a quickfire stunt to avoid a tie, it isn’t hard to see why.

The next two changes are a lot more cut and dry. Both looking to make the game that little more safe and a little less barbaric.

I would go as far to say “Rule 20.4″ be named the Rockford IceHogs Rule because it is trying to lessen players that fight multiple times in a game. I can’t remember a time where I’ve seen a player get called for multiple “non-fighting” majors in a game. As far as that three non-fighting majors and out policy. That sounds like the first man to achieve that is looking to become a trivia question answer.

The new helmet rule seems to act as an extension of last year’s fighting and removing your helmet rule. You may also see in the junior ranks a policy not too different from this. You lose your lid – get off the ice. The exception here is you can quickly grab your helmet, pop it back on, fasten it, and keep going. What gets interesting here will be the referees’ discrepancy between implementing penalties to players as they are in the act of putting there helmet back on, if there is a time window between when it should be applied as they put their helmet back on, or if they will simply enforce or encourage getting back to the bench rather than putting the helmet back on.

Some of these changes certainly have wrinkles to them on the surface now. Similar to hybrid icing making its way into the game – I’m sure it won’t be as confusing the more you see it take place. It will be a bit of a mind cramp watching the new OT format the first few times though.

What do you make of the new rules changes? Do they make more sense to you than they do to me? EXPLAIN TO ME THE THINGS. How do you think the new Overtime Period will work?

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Preds Sign Mattias Ekholm; AHL Alignment Changes

Mattias Ekholm enjoyed a short and successful one-year stint in Milwaukee. (Photo courtesy of Scott Paulus)

Mattias Ekholm enjoyed a short and successful one-year stint in Milwaukee. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Remember that whole arbitration thing with Mattias Ekholm? It, like his time in Milwaukee, are likely a thing of the past as the Nashville Predators signed the restricted free agent to a standard two-year, $2.075 million contract, worth $1,037,500 in both seasons.

Ekholm was part of a rookie triumvirate that made up the Predators blueline last year along with Seth Jones and fellow former Admirals defenseman Victor Bartley. In 2013-2014 Borlange, Sweden native’s dressed in 62 contests for Nashville, posting one goal and nine points along with a minus-eight rating.

One season prior Ekholm stood out along with Bartley on Milwaukee’s defense, scoring 10 goals and 32 points, along with a plus-15 rating in 59 games. He added one assist in the Admirals’ four-game series loss to top-seeded Texas. The former 2009 fourth-round pick also skated in two contests with the Predators back in 2011-2012, posting no points.

The new deal represents a modest bump up for Ekholm, and saves both the team and himself an arbitration hearing.

In a completely unrelated story, the AHL has announced the new divisional alignment for the 2014-2015 season. Much to the dismay of Milwaukee fans, the league also announced that the current playoff format would remain the same.

There were just a couple of minor changes to AHL landscape in regards to Milwaukee, as former Midwest Division foe Iowa moves into the West Division, Lake Erie takes over the Wild’s slot, while Adirondack (formerly Abbotsford) takes over the Monsters’ vacated position in the North Division.

For what it’s worth Lake Erie finished with eight more points (12th in the West at 32-33-1-10) than Iowa (27-36-7-6, 15th in the West) last season.

Here the new look AHL via the Official American Hockey League Fan Page on Facebook:

AHL Alignment

Even though his stint with the Admirals was brief, any favorite memories of Mattias Ekholm in Milwaukee? How do think Nashville and Milwaukee’s defense stacks up for next season? What do you think of the Midwest Division switch, adding Lake Erie and dropping Iowa?

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Anthony Bitetto Re-Signs with Nashville

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Anthony Bitetto is set to play his third professional hockey season after re-signing with the Nashville Predators today on a one-year two-way contract. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Let’s start off today with some feel good news. A fan favorite in Anthony Bitetto has re-signed on a one-year two-way contract with the Nashville Predators today. The deal for the defenseman and New York native is worth $605,000. That should mean a new toy is in order for Reggie.

The biggest story for Bitetto started around this time last year. He was asked to improve his fitness and turned up to camp in tip-top condition. Results came with the hard work off the ice. He started off last season red hot in the goal scoring department and finished off the 2013-14 season with 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 73 games. He also had 85 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of -13.

This deal by Nashville adds yet another defenseman to an already loaded defensive core in the system. You know who will be benefiting the most from this situation? The Milwaukee Admirals and Cincinnati Cyclones. Competition brings out the best in an athlete. I have to imagine fighting for playing time at the highest attainable level possible is in the minds of all young guns in the system – and there is a plethora right now looking for AHL playing time. The ones who will miss the cut in Admirals camp will find themselves with the team that just came up short in the 2014 ECHL Kelly Cup Finals, the Cyclones.

Happy to see the return of Anthony Bitetto? Are more defensemen set to re-sign? Who do you feel is the odd man out in Milwaukee at this point on defense?

Posted in News | 4 Comments

Nashville News: Volchenkov, Fisher, Ekholm, Moser

Anton Volchenkov adds an experienced defenseman into the youthful Nashville Predators core. (Photo Credit: NHL.com)

Anton Volchenkov adds an experienced defenseman into the youthful Nashville Predators core. (Photo Credit: NHL.com)

Today a wave of news has rolled into Nashville HQ. Here is the latest on recent events.

~Anton Volchenkov Signs With Nashville~

Another piece has been added to the Nashville/Milwaukee puzzle as veteran defenseman Anton Volchenkov signed with the Predators today on a one-year, $1 million contract. The 11-year NHL veteran recently received a compliance buyout from the New Jersey Devils, making him a UFA after passing through waivers.

Never a high scorer, Volchenkov is known as one of the NHL’s top shot blockers throughout his stints with Ottawa and the Devils. Via a statement Predators G.M. David Poile sounded pleased adding the former 2000 first-round pick:

“Anton provides a strong veteran presence that will complement our young, talented defensive corps nicely,” general manager David Poile said in a statement. “He is a physical, left-handed shooting defenseman who can match up with top-line forwards and effectively kill penalties.”

~Mike Fisher Out 4 to 6 Months~

The Volchenkov signing comes on the same day that the organization announced that forward Mike Fisher sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon during a training session and will be out four to six months.

The loss of Fisher makes last week’s signing of Olli Jokinen all that more important. The veteran Finn added some depth to the Predators already shallow pool of quality centers.

Here is Poile’s statement on Mr. Underwood’s injury:

“Predators forward and alternate captain Mike Fisher sustained a ruptured Achilles tendon during a training session and underwent successful surgery on Thursday, July 3. We expect Mike to make a full recovery in four-to-six months, and look forward to his return to the ice.”

~Ekholm Files for Salary Arbitration~

Via TSN.ca 20 NHL players filed for arbitration before the deadline of 5PM Eastern Time on Saturday, July 5. Among the most prominent names on the list were P.K. Subban, Lars Eller, Mats Zuccarello, and Dwight King. A couple of ex-Admirals, Nick Spaling and Cody Franson, were also on that list.

Nashville’s lone player to file for arbitration was defenseman Mattias Ekholm, who is coming off of his first full season with the Predators. The year before the 24-year-old Swede played in 59 games with Milwaukee along with four playoff contests, racking up 10 goals and 33 points.

Ekholm is currently a restricted free agent. The 2009 Predators fourth-round pick is coming off an entry level contact that paid him (via CapGeek.com) $900,000 at the NHL level and $67,500 at the AHL level plus bonuses.

~Moser Rejects First Predators Contract Offer~

According to the website SwissHockeyNews.Ch, Admirals/Predators forward Simon Moser rejected the first contract offer presented to him by Nashville. So far the 25-year-old has received only an offer for a one-year, two-way, league minimum contract, worth less than he could make playing hockey back home in Switzerland where he is still under contract with SC Bern.

Unlike Ekholm, Moser did not opt for the arbitration rout on July 5. Fisher’s injury, combined with the drafting of another Swiss prospect, Kevin Fiala, might up the ante in getting this deal done. Then again Moser had few NHL options last season, and according to the website a trade to another team is also unlikely.

Last year the Swiss forward was key contributor on both the Admirals and Predators. Moser scored 26 points in 51 games (regular season plus playoffs) with Milwaukee and two points in six games with Nashville.

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