The summer is starting to really drag on in the hockey news circle. Not a whole lot of real news, updates, or player movement going on. Is Scott Ford going to retire? Where will Scott Valentine or Charles-Olivier Roussel land? Will we see more additions to the AHL and ECHL rosters from the Admirals in regards depth and competition for when pre-season camp starts up? Lots of questions to be asked without real definitive answers just yet. All in due time I suppose.
~The Importance of Veteran Leadership~
The last roster move that the Milwaukee Admirals made involved the free agent signings of goaltender Rob Madore and left-winger Triston Grant. Last issue of Ramblings I tapped into the signing of Madore and what that does for goalie competition this season. Today, I want to talk about the importance of having a player such as Grant back in town with the Milwaukee Admirals.
Last season the Admirals veteran core consisted of six players above the age of 26-years old: Scott Ford, Joe Piskula, Bryan Rodney, Kevin Henderson, Mark Van Guilder, and Francis Wathier. As of now, the Admirals currently have five: Rob Madore (26), Piskula (30), Van Guilder (30), Henderson (27), and Grant (30).
The youth of last year’s team, let’s just say players at or below the age of 22-years old who played a good chunk of games, stood at thirteen: Taylor Beck, Zach Budish, Magnus Hellberg, Scott Valentine, Patrick Cehlin, Marek Mazanec, Calle Jarnkrok, Charles-Olivier Roussel, Josh Shalla, Austin Watson, Miikka Salomaki, Filip Forsberg, and Colton Sissons.
That’s a hefty chunk of players but plenty who were around prior to last season. Of that list, guys such as Mazanec, Jarnkrok, Salomaki, Forsberg, and Sissons were enduring their first full-season of professional hockey in North America. This year’s Admirals group is going to be plenty green.
As the roster stands – the Admirals currently have sixteen players at or under the age of 22-years old set to play next season: Jonathan-Ismael Diaby (19), Filip Forsberg (19), Brendan Leipsic (20), Felix Girard (20), Mikko Vainonen (20), Colton Sissons (20), Pontus Aberg (20), Jaynen Rissling (20), Frederick Gaudreau (21), Jimmy Oligny (21), Viktor Arvidsson (21), Miikka Salomaki (21), Johan Alm (22), Austin Watson (22), Taylor Aronson (22), and Josh Shalla (22).
Making their full-season professional debuts in North America will be ten of that sixteen. As I said before. It’s a rather green team for the 2014-15 season. And that is precisely why a signing of Triston Grant is brilliant.
If the veteran leadership and presence conducted from team captain Scott Ford is lacking entering this year’s campaign your replacement leaders will be guys such as Grant, Van Guilder, and Piskula. Those three alone could potentially be your captains this season – with young candidates such as Watson, Sissons, or -dark horse pick- Anthony Bitetto also in consideration for alternate captaincy roles. It’s the way that they conduct themselves on and off the ice that make a difference. With a team that is stacked with green players it’s going to be vital to get veterans, such as the three mentioned, stepping up and taking the rookies under their wing immediately. The sooner the rookies get acclimated to the ice, the AHL level, the locker room, city, you name it — the better.
I have a very strong gut feeling that the Milwaukee Admirals you see on the 2014 side of the calendar will be nothing close to as good as the one that closes out the season. It’s an inexperienced team for the AHL level but a highly promising one for the Admirals 2014-15 season and the Nashville Predators future.
Having Grant, someone that spent two seasons in the system back in 2008-10, is going to be a great complement to the current cast. His last two-seasons have been with the Grand Rapids Griffins where he played 126 games, scored 26 points (10 goals, 16 assists), and gathered up a rocking 299 penalty minutes. Not to mention that 2012-13 Calder Cup he won. His role as a leader on the team is going to be one of the key points to this young Admirals squad being all the wiser as the season crawls through the schedule.
Who would you pencil in as the captains of your current Milwaukee Admirals right now? Do the Admirals need to bring in more veterans or are you confident in a young and talented group such as they have at the moment?