Moses, Sissons, and Saros Headline Reinforcements Heading to Milwaukee

(Photo Credit: Jae S. Lee / The Tennessean)

(Photo Credit: Jae S. Lee / The Tennessean)

Today the Nashville Predators announced three more cuts from their pre-season roster. Colton Sissons, Steve Moses, and Juuse Saros have been assigned to the Milwaukee Admirals, leaving the Predators with 25 skaters on the roster. Per the NHL’s Hockey Operations Guidelines two more players must be cut in order to trim the roster to its final 23 names for the 2015-16 season.

In Moses Milwaukee adds a player who racked up a KHL (arguably the second best league in the world) best 36 goals last year. Nashville is looking to see a consistent scoring touch in North America out of the 26-year-old, who has been playing overseas for the past three seasons. Meanwhile, Sissons returns for his third Admirals campaign eager to make his latest AHL visit a short one after back-to-back 25 goal seasons. Saros was always expected to play for Milwaukee, and will likely be the team’s netminder for part or all of Friday night’s preseason opener.

In addition, Milwaukee announced yesterday that five players have been signed to professional try-out contracts by the organization. Headlining the new Admirals PTOs is former Arizona Coyotes forward David Moss, a veteran of over 500 NHL contests. In addition, Adam PayerlAndrew Yogan and Mike Ratchuk, who are all under contract with Milwaukee’s ECHL affiliate Cincinnati, and Dov Grumet-Morris were also added to the squad, as Daniel Lavender relayed yesterday. The latter four were all listed on the initial training camp roster yesterday, while Moss was not.

Moss represents an intriguing possibility for the Admirals going forward. Though not prone to physical play or fighting, the 33-year-old is a big winger (6’4″ 209 lbs.) with a decent scoring touch, as seasons of 20 goals (2008-09) and 17 goals in 2010-11 attest to. Moss played in 60 games for Arizona last season, picking up four goals, 12 points and a minus-18 rating. He played in 79 contests one season prior.

Lavender Update: Moses is signed to a one-way contract but did not require waivers to reach the Milwaukee Admirals. So, for all the competition that there was in camp, it appears as though Viktor Arvidsson has beaten them all at the wing spot. Not too shabby.

So Roundtable . . . What are your thoughts on the new additions? Does Colton Sissons deserve a roster spot in Nashville? Are you intrigued by the addition of David Moss on a minor league contract?

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The Chatterbox, Vol. 82

(Photo Credit: Daniel Lavender)

THEY’RE BACK. (Photo Credit: Daniel Lavender)

Today marked the first day of training camp for the Milwaukee Admirals. Practice at the MSOE Kern Center went on for a little over an hour and a half. And it was fantastic getting a glimpse of the new and returning talent.

The roster revealed yesterday was all there minus one name, Marek Mazanec. The Czech goaltender was back home to be there for the birth of his first child. The Admirals received help in the form of Dov Grumet-Morris to fill the void in net at practice today. Mazanec is expected to rejoin the Admirals this weekend. The plan initially was to have him start Saturday night’s exhibition game on the road against the Chicago Wolves but, due to fatigue or jet lag, there is a question mark as to whether or not that holds true. It seems very likely that Brandon Whitney gets the nod for Friday night’s game against the Rockford IceHogs.

As far as line combinations go I expect things to change up here and there as training camp marches on. I’m not entirely expecting the lines I saw today in practice be what we see on opening night. That said, here is how the forwards rolled out today.

Adam PayerlMax ReinhartKevin Fiala
Pontus ÅbergVladislav KamenevMiikka Salomäki
Max GörtzFélix GirardJoe Pendenza
Eric RobinsonFrédérick GaudreauJaynen Rissling

 If any line catches my eye it’d be that second line. I’d love for that pairing to stick because the skill level of all three would be a joy to watch in a game situation. Another note worth mentioning. It seems the Admirals will be committed to Rissling as a winger rather than as a defenseman. Hey, that move worked out for Mike Liambas – and Rissling is a bit bigger of a bulldozer than Liambas.

What about the defense you say? Well, all were accounted for but there was never really any pairings to speak of. You get that a lot with Admirals practices but even more so when there are as many defensemen in a training camp like this right now. Things are static and it’s more down to individual looks and performance than forming a tandem. For what it’s worth, today was my first serious look at Kristian Näkyvä and I really loved what I saw from him. He can skate really well and has a nasty shot. If the goal is to emulate the parent club then that means having defensemen that are capable of stepping up and helping out on the rush. Näkyvä might possess that ability better than any current Admirals defenseman.

After practice came to a close I had the chance to speak with head coach Dean Evason. I also spoke with Fiala and Salomäki. While the audio clips by Fiala might come off as short one-word answers I wouldn’t take that as some sort of a slight from him to the media. My secondary language when I was his age was limited to asking where the library was so I’m used to European players such as him keeping things brief or to the point. Evason’s dialogue on him was far more telling than anything when it comes to Fiala’s situation of starting his season in the AHL. And that’s good enough for me. Here’s what everyone had to say after today’s opening practice in Milwaukee.

Continue reading

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2015-16 Admirals Training Camp Roster

(Photo Credit: Jan Wiriden)

Ladies and Gents, your new No. 10. …this means more in European football I think. (Photo Credit: Jan Wiriden)

The Milwaukee Admirals just provided a handy dandy PDF that reveals both new uniform numbers for players and a few names that have been added to training camp. The new additions includes: Adam Payerl (C), Andrew Yogan (LW), and Mike Ratchuk (D). For those unable to open the PDF above here it is in easy access jpeg form:


Information via Milwaukee Admirals

All three of the new names added to training camp are members of the Cincinnati Cyclones (ECHL) this season. All are signed specifically to ECHL contracts so in any event where Payerl, Yogan, or Ratchuk get brought to the Admirals it comes on a loan or PTO basis from the Cyclones.

Payerl is an undrafted winger that has spent the majority of his career in the AHL under the Penguins banner. He has also played twice in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He doesn’t post eye popping offensive numbers, 20 points (7 goals, 13 assists) in the last two AHL seasons he’s played (84 games), but at 6’3″ and 218 lbs. he has the frame that can muscle it out on the lower lines and eat up minutes on the ice.

Yogan was drafted in the fourth round of the 2010 NHL Draft by the New York Rangers. In his last year in junior hockey, 2011-12, he had an incredible scoring season for the Peterborough Petes: 79 points (41 goals, 38 assists) in 66 games. Added Fun Fact: He was teammates with Austin Watson and Trevor Murphy that season. Since, his pro career has slightly been tumbleweeds. His scoring numbers have receded and he’s going from an NHL draft pick, to AHL talent, to ECHL talent. Perhaps this new backdrop of Milwaukee/Cincinnati can reignite his scoring touch.

Ratchuk, were he to actually be a mainstay on the Admirals, would be the oldest defenseman on the roster at 27-years old. He was a second round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 2006 but has yet to play a game in the NHL. His time as a pro has been split between the AHL (147 career games) and ECHL (175 career games). Looking at his track record I’m going to take a guess injuries played a part in him going from 69 games played with the Wheeling Nailers in 2013-14 to 28 games played last season. No matter, he’s set to join his fourth different ECHL team this season and -should he stay healthy- can hopefully provide his 2013-14 level of performance.

In addition to these Cyclones being brought into training camp the roster list reveals some of the new uniform numbers for the Admirals: #6, Kristian Näkyvä… #7, Conor Allen… #8, Trevor Murphy… #10, Max Görtz… #25, Max Reinhart… #61, Brandon Whitney… #85, Mikko Vainonen… #91, Vladislav Kamenev.

The Admirals training camp roster should expand when some more faces arrive from Nashville in the coming days (e.g. Cody Bass, Jamie Devane, Juuse Saros, and more). I’d anticipate some moves being made in advance of Friday’s exhibition game against the Rockford IceHogs. As far as spotting guys tomorrow though? This list should help you out.

Once again, I’ll be at the MSOE Kern Center tomorrow morning for the start of training camp. You can check out the full training camp schedule here. Hope to see you rinkside.

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Milwaukee Admirals 2015-16 Season Preview

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

I can’t wait to start using different photos with our actual players wearing the new threads. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The Milwaukee Admirals open up training camp tomorrow morning. There will be some stories formed out of camp the next week or so as far as how lines shape up, who will be the captains, who trickles down to the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL, and much more. For right now I say let’s take a look at some of the basics because there are plenty of storylines worth taking stock of before the pucks start flying around at the MSOE Kern Center.

~New Season, Same Problems~

The Admirals ended last season with a record of 4-14-5-3 following February 15th in which they lost Brendan Leipsic to trade and Miikka Salomäki due to a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season. There was no playoff hockey in Milwaukee for the first time since the Admirals inaugural season in the American Hockey League of 2001-02. It could be a concern to some that more of the same could be on the horizon. There are up to 17 returning names on this year’s Admirals team from the previous season. Yet I say turn your focus away from the players for a moment and shift them to behind the bench.

This is year number four of Dean Evason as head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals. In his first three seasons he has collected a regular season record of 113-80-18-17. In his first two seasons his Admirals made the playoffs but did so only to get eliminated in the opening round with only a single win from the two best-of-five game series to show for it.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Looking at all of that, knowing the team finished last in the division a season ago and missed the playoffs, you might be wondering if similar history is set to repeat itself. The simple answer to that, of course, is we won’t know for sure until some games are laid down. Even then I feel last season’s hot streak cold streak style could even lessen some of the ‘feel good’ out of an early successful period of play. Should this team start as cold as it finished though I think there can be cause for concern. There could come a point in this season if things go sour when someone asks whether or not the player development in Milwaukee and lack of team results go hand-in-hand. If there was any single person or group that is motivated to rebound from the struggles of last season I have to imagine it is Evason and his coaching staff.

What I think will help plenty is when we bring our focus back to the players themselves. There are so many returning faces that I think everyone has more than enough motivation to better themselves and what was on display a season ago. Even bigger than that of course is that the prospect pool of the Nashville Predators is a deep one and, for some, that itself is motivation enough. This is an important year for several names that need to put a big fat stamp down on this season as to not get lost in shuffle of forwards that will be entering the prospect pool after this season. Will they make Nashville keep them in their plans or end up out of a job? It’s up to performances shining through on the ice to make the answer to that question clear. Should the players hold themselves to that high level of a standard it should only mean good things for the Admirals as a team for this campaign.

~The Newbies~

When it comes to the new names arriving in Milwaukee this season there is a lot to like. Juuse Saros, Max Görtz, Vladislav Kamenev, Trevor Murphy, and Kristian Näkyvä are all Nashville prospects entering the fray. Meanwhile, some more seasoned names are also being added to the mix: Cody BassMax ReinhartJamie Devane, and Conor Allen.

The biggest name of the newbies is easily Saros. The 20-year old goaltender from Finland is making his first splash in North America this season and he enters with a large amount of hype surrounding him. There’s a good possibility that this Finn will succeed another Finn named Pekka Rinne in Nashville one of these years.

In my talks with Magnus Hellberg last season, I got a much better understanding of the adjustment process from the European game to North American game as it relates to goaltending. You not only have a smaller rink, and therefore a quicker game pace to deal with, but the manner in which offenses crowd the net and play off of rebounds is a higher point of emphasis than it is in Europe. Yet, it is still safe to say that this adaptation process is entirely individual. How fast can Saros adapt? The early signs from Nashville’s rookie and pre-season camps suggest that he has adapted quickly… very quickly.

(Photo Credit: Pasi Liesimaa)

(Photo Credit: Pasi Liesimaa)

Saros is not your prototypical Nashville Predators goaltending prospect. He’s a wee lad that only registers in at 5’10” tall. By comparison sake to the Predators goaltenders that we’ve come to know over the years he should look every bit on the ice like the kid that he actually is. What’s important to note is that height and size isn’t everything. In fact, I sometimes question if bigger sized goaltenders get away with the mistakes that someone with the size of Saros could ill afford to make. While a goaltender like Hellberg might get caught out by moving side-to-side only to rely on his size to bail him out. A goalie like Saros doesn’t have that. He’s never had that size as a bail out. In turn he has incredibly fast instincts and reaction speed to account for the extra bit of net that has opened up due to his size. It’s these instincts that will make his adaptation process to the North American game fast and the selection of “who is number one in net” for the Admirals a question mark from opening day forward.

As for the others, Kamenev and Görtz are two of the skaters I am really eager to see play for the Admirals this season.

(Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Vinnick)

Kamenev was the Predators second round selection in the 2014 NHL Draft. He’s a 19-year old Russian center who has 57 games of professional playing experience in Russia’s KHL with Metallurg Magnitogorsk. The on-ice life for him should be easy enough. He might not be the flashiest player to hit the ice for the Admirals this season but I think his age might get lost in how well he plays. As for off the ice it will be curious to see how he, his coaches, and teammates handle the language barrier. I say, if Marek Mazanec can come through it and speak the level of English that he can now, so can Kamenev. The game of hockey is a universal language. The more he and everyone learns to communicate with one-another off the ice will only allow him to feel more comfortable in his own skin.

(Photo Credit: Jan Wiriden)

(Photo Credit: Jan Wiriden)

Görtz is a player I’ve been excited about seeing for a good amount of time. He’s a strong winger with good skill to go with his size. He is coming off of his best playing season of his career in which he scored 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists) in 53 games with Frölunda in Sweden. My lone concern was that how his season ended last year would hinder his 2015-16 start. Görtz ended last season being taken off the ice on a stretcher in the SHL playoffs after receiving a headshot. He was caught with his head down as he skated in towards goal. How would he handle himself getting back on the ice for a game after a scene like that? Luckily, his Rookie Tournament and work in pre-season both have looked good and any sort of “getting back in the saddle” jitters he might have had simply didn’t show in his performances. That’s as good of a sight to see as seeing his name on the scoresheet. I feel like Görtz is just the type of winger the Admirals have been needing to have success. Look at how well Austin Watson has performed on the wing scoring wise and think about having a second incarnation of that on the depth chart. Someone who won’t get out-muscled or out-sized working the wall and can scrap it out in front of the net for gritty goals as well as whip some in from open play. That’s who Görtz can be for this year’s Admirals team.

~The Fiala Conundrum~

This off-season I felt more and more confident that Kevin Fiala would make the Predators opening day roster. Be it simply depth up top, or the coaching staff thinking he isn’t ready yet, his season starts in Milwaukee. This will begin a fun chapter of the 2015-16 season that should mirror one from the 2013-14 season when a kid named Filip Forsberg found himself in a similar scenario. Highly talented, but unpolished. Can play in the NHL, but you’d rather have him logging top line AHL minutes than lower tier NHL minutes (if not healthy scratched).

Fiala certainly looks better than last season which should mean amazing things for the Admirals. When he arrived midway through last season as an 18-year old he practically hit the ground running: 20 points (11 goals, 9 assists) in 33 games. Not to mention, some of his goals were just flat out ridiculous.

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

If there were to be any concern for Fiala this season it purely comes from between the ears level stuff. For example, how will the disappointment of not making the Predators opening day roster impact him? Will he be extra motivated to get back up top or shaken up from losing out on an NHL spot? What if he starts well, continues to do well, but the Predators still don’t have the room for him and would rather he keep developing at the AHL level? Does he start gripping the stick tighter wanting that NHL time or continue going about his business and controlling what he can control. Time should tell with that and hopefully a sophomore slump is avoided.

No matter what proceeds in the Fiala storyline of this season it’s quite simple. He is an incredible talent. What I’m sure can be instructed to Nashville fans eager to see him hit the scene, similar to Forsberg back in 2013-14, is to be patient. Being as young as he still is – the more he can play this season the better (AHL or NHL). I’m sure the reason why he is in Milwaukee is for the same reason I’d have sent him to Milwaukee. Why not play top line minutes instead of here-and-there action on the fourth line in Nashville? While playing in the NHL might satisfy your ego logging those lower line minutes sort of defeats the purpose. Let him play. Let him learn. Watch him grow.

~Defensive Wake Up Call~

This time last season I was more worried about an inexperienced defense more than anything else. Heck, if you were to tell me that Taylor Aronson was to have the season he had a year ago I might have fainted. Sadly, Aronson’s improvement and some decent work out of the pairings of Joe Piskula and Anthony Bitetto were about as good as it got really. The defensive structure of the team last season was quite sloppy and players such as Johan Alm and Garrett Noonan were spotty when part of the Admirals setup.

Jump cut to present day and Piskula is gone, PTO contractee Scott Ford is now an assistant coach with the Admirals, and some new names have been added. The loss of Piskula still saddens me in the sense he really was the most consistent defenseman on the Admirals last season and provided the calm presence you’d expect from a veteran like him. With him gone now the team will look to lean on two players that are is six-years younger than Piskula in Allen and Bitetto.

(Photo Credit: Nashville Predators)

(Photo Credit: Nashville Predators)

I think Bitetto needs no introduction. His game keeps evolving and, while the scoring touch might be lacking, his defense has looked better and better. The prospect of him being able to produce offensively as he did in 2013-14, scoring 36 points (11 goals, 25 assists) in 73 games, and then playing as stout defensively as he did last season is perhaps just what Nashville are looking for when it comes to his long-term outlook with the organization. He’s set to be the Admirals top defenseman this season. Has the potential to be a team captain considering his standing and respect level within the locker room. One season removed from making his NHL debut and this could be the most important season in Bitetto’s career. Everything is in place for him to put it all together. Can he do it?

(Photo Credit: Hartford Wolf Pack // flickr)

(Photo Credit: Hartford Wolf Pack // flickr)

Allen is the oldest defenseman on the Admirals this season. And when I say older I mean by about five months on Bitetto. Allen is an undrafted defenseman who played his trade with UMass-Amherst. After finishing up in college he made his pro debut in the AHL with the Connecticut Whale. He then proceeded to play with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL and played 7 games with the New York Rangers in the NHL. His AHL numbers, especially last season, are solid. In 2013-14 he played 72 games, scored 31 points (6 goals, 25 assists), had 71 penalty minutes, and a plus/minus rating of -4. In 2014-15 he played 72 games, scored 34 points (11 goals, 23 assists), had 113 penalty minutes, and a plus/minus rating of +1. He might not be the Sconnie that you knew and love in Piskula but I say give this Chicago native a chance. He should fit in nicely, play a quite similar brand of hockey as Bitetto can, and might not even have hit his ceiling yet.

~Czeching In With Maz~

This off-season’s early storyline was the goaltending dilemma. Will Saros make the leap to North America? If so, who stays and who goes? That has of course been answered but now leaves a question mark as it relates to Mazanec.

If the Predators are as invested in Saros as they appear to be does it mean he’ll end up getting the majority of starts in Milwaukee this season over Mazanec?

Early into the goaltending situation being figured out the more I understood the reasoning behind why Nashville went the route that it did. Mazanec has the NHL experience and would be that slightly bit more acclimatized to help out in the event of an injury that required a call up. Yet, with that in mind, is he purely back in Milwaukee on that condition while Saros gets that majority of starts in net? It’s a question that will play out before our eyes early in the season.

What is curious to see will be Mazanec’s start, middle, and end to this season. He has started great the first two years of his Admirals career.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

2013-14, Mazanec started the season off with five wins in his first five starts before getting an NHL call up that saw him get Rookie of the Month honors in November 2013. He labored a little bit in his return to the Admirals – losing six of his first seven appearances in February 2014 – but he literally needed to shoulder the load in goal during that time due to the amount of injuries at the position. Once he settled back in? Brilliant: he won nine of his last twelve games including his last four straight and had a 0.926 save percentage across that span.

2014-15, Mazanec once again started off the season by winning his first five starts of the season. But, much like the Admirals season as a whole last year, it was up down and around from then on out. His save percentage month-by-month broke down: 0.924, 0.894, 0.885, 0.947, 0.905, 0.867, 0.902. Basically, when he was good – he was great and when he was rough – he was ROUGH. To allow me to dip into something I said during my end season grades for last season… Hellberg allowed three or more goals fourteen times. Mazanec allowed three or more goals twenty-five times. There’s no tip-toeing around it. That’s simply not good enough.

There is a lot on the table for Mazanec this season and by that I really mean it being the difference between being the back-up in Nashville next season versus heading back home and playing for HC Plzen. Mazanec needs to step up to the plate, meet the challenge and hype train of Saros head on, and be the anchor in net here in Milwaukee. Should he flounder in his chances there is no reason why the net shouldn’t just be handed off to Saros to speed up his developmental process. The pressure is on and how Mazanec is able to handle it this season should be the difference between him succeeding Carter Hutton and not being back at all.

~Heart and Soul~

I believe I mentioned a kid named Salomäki getting injured for the season somewhere up top. Well, good news, that injury has healed up and he is back to 100% fitness for the 2015-16 playing season. So much so he was given a five-minute major for boarding and a game misconduct in the Predators pre-season opener. Some look at that as bad. I look at that and say he’s back to the way he was (more or less).

(Photo Credit: John Russell)

(Photo Credit: John Russell)

Considering his shoulder injury last season you’d wonder if more plays like that, such as a high impact boarding check, would get eliminated out of Salomäki’s arsenal. While I’m sure the coaches weren’t please at the time with him doing that I also think there was a wry smile as well. It’s that level of full throttle play from Salomäki that makes him so fun to watch and as effective on both sides of the puck as he is.

The game misconduct will probably be met by the player and coaches the same way it was when he suffered the same fate as a rookie here in Milwaukee. But it should also rebound as it did where he’s not a nasty player whose aim is to deliver checks like that. He’s simply an aggressive bull in a China shop. The moment that he went down for the season last year it felt like the team lost a big part of their identity. Salomäki’s tenacity on the ice in some ways is a great table setter for each and every forward to take the ice and commit to working as hard as he does in all areas of the ice. Him being back fully fit will be a hugely welcome addition to the team.

There’s plenty more storylines out there. For example, I’m thinking this should be an outstanding season for Colton Sissons and have briefly talked about why I think that should be the case. Plenty of stuff to talk up but tomorrow will be the first day of training camp downtown. I’ll be there and hope to catch up with the team afterwards so expect a Chatterbox or two this week. Hope to see you at the MSOE Kern Center this week. Not sure what the schedule is? Have a look here.

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Posted in Feature, News | 1 Comment

Nashville Assigns 22 Players to Milwaukee

(Photo Credit: Christina Shapiro)

Does the prospect of having Kevin Fiala for an extended period of time mean good things for the Milwaukee Admirals this season? I’m thinking yes. (Photo Credit: Christina Shapiro)

The Nashville Predators have effectively sent the Milwaukee Admirals team off to Milwaukee. The Predators reduced their training camp roster by 23 names late this afternoon. The lone name not heading to Milwaukee will be Yakov Trenin who is set to join his junior team Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL). Meanwhile, Kevin Fiala looks as if his 2015-16 season will start in the AHL with the Admirals as he is part of the 22 names heading to Milwaukee’s training camp which starts on Tuesday.

Press Release via Nashville Predators:

Nashville, Tenn. (September 26, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Saturday that the club has assigned goaltenders Marek Mazanec and Brandon Whitney; defensemen Conor Allen, Johan Alm, Trevor Murphy, Jonathan Diaby, Mikko Vainonen, Jaynen Rissling, Kristian Nakyva, Taylor Aronson, Jimmy Oligny and Garrett Noonan; and forwards Kevin Fiala, Miikka Salomaki, Joe Pendenza, Felix Girard, Pontus Aberg, Vladislav Kamenev, Max Reinhart, Max Gortz, Frederick Gaudreau and Eric Robinson to Milwaukee (AHL). The team also assigned 2015 second-round draft pick Yakov Trenin to his junior team (Gatineau, QMJHL).

Nashville’s training camp roster is now at 28 players – 17 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders. An updated roster is attached.

The Nashville Predators play their final two preseason games this week against the Columbus Blue Jackets, first at Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. CT), then Saturday in Columbus (6 p.m. CT).

The Preds begin the regular season at Bridgestone Arena by hosting the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, Oct. 8 at 7 p.m. CT (FOX Sports Tennessee, 102.5 The Game). Full, half and 13-Game Flex Plan ticket holders continue to receive the biggest savings and the most comprehensive benefits that Smashville has to offer. Season-ticket holders are guaranteed to choose from any regular-season game at Bridgestone Arena, as well as receiving access to 2016 NHL® All-Star festivity tickets. For more information on purchasing season-ticket or flex packages, preseason or regular season tickets, visit or call 615-770-7800.

A name that you may have noticed isn’t coming back, at least not yet, is Viktor Arvidsson. There’s still plenty of time for names to trickle down to Milwaukee. For example, Anthony Bitetto is also still with the Nashville camp at the moment. Still, it is impressive to see that for all the Steve Moses buzz and whether or not Fiala can challenge him for a wing role he has been surpassed in the pre-season by Arvidsson. I’d point to age being a small factor but, no matter how it was going to shake out, the internal competition at forward right now should only mean great things across the entire organization.

Surprised to see Fiala end up starting this season with the Admirals? What percentage of Fiala’s season do you expect will be spent in the AHL? Can Arvidsson make the Predators opening day roster?

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Posted in News | 6 Comments

Admirals Roundtable 101

(Photo Credit: Sunnie Hirschfield)

It’s that time of year again! (Photo Credit: Sunnie Hirschfield)

The 2015-16 season is almost upon us. With that in mind I feel it is time for a re-introduction of all things Admirals Roundtable to get newbies up to speed with all that happens around these parts.

My name is Daniel Lavender and I am the editor-in-chief of Admirals Roundtable. This is now my third season with Roundtable and will be my fourth covering Milwaukee Admirals hockey up close and personal. After graduating from UW-Parkside I joined the front office as a communications intern and was fortunate enough to join during the 35th Anniversary season. Ever since I’ve quintessentially made covering this team around-the-clock my full-time job. It has been tons of fun to do and I’m so very excited to get the puck dropped on this year’s campaign.

As far as what to expect from content on Admirals Roundtable here is the prototypical breakdown: Scouting the Enemy, Game Recaps, Chatterbox, Feature Stories, and as much news as we can get published as possible when, after, or sometimes before it breaks.

Scouting the Enemy: I always try to get as comprehensive of a scouting report of the next Admirals opponent as I can published prior to game day. It’s either up the day-of or the day before the game is played. Considering back-to-backs and the frequency of seeing similar opponents takes place often – expect the length of these or manner in which the content is presented to change. I could purely talk about -say- the Grand Rapids Griffins or go back to a previous game in which the Admirals and Griffins played and the do’s and don’t’s that should take place in the game ahead.

Game Recaps: As far as timing goes, I try my best to get recaps up as quickly as I possibly can but would say a polite ETA is a little after a half-hour after the game is completed. For road games I’m able to get those up quickly due to the fact I’m watching the game from the comforts of my own home via AHL Live. When the Admirals are home I’ll be in the locker room area getting through interviews with coaches and players post-game which will make the recap take a touch longer – but also that little bit better thanks to the addition of quotes.

Chatterbox: What on Earth is Chatterbox you ask? Well, it is the audio portion of my post-game interviews with coaches and players that get published the morning after a home game gets completed. You’ll hear myself and the Admirals talk about the game, various other talking points, or -hopefully more this season- the beauty that is locker room pranking (e.g. interview bombing). I always encourage you readers on Twitter or Facebook to give a shout out if there is a certain player you want to hear from or have a specific question you’d like to have asked. I love to be your conduit to the team so having your involvement in this process makes everything that much more fun. Let your voice be heard. Let your question be answered by the player you wanted to hear from.

Feature Stories: This is another area where I love getting readership feedback as to a certain player you’d like to know more about. As examples: last season I did features on Magnus Hellberg‘s journey from Sweden to Milwaukee, Anthony Bitetto‘s road to playing in the NHL, and how all the European talents get to adapting on and off the ice here in North America. Often times I’ll come up with a story I find would be interesting but, like Chatterbox, it’s even more fun when suggestions come in and I can deliver insight readers and fans alike are looking for. So, for a laugh, answer this question. Who should be the very first player featured this season?

News: There’s not much more to say other than delivering news is the backbone of Roundtable. When a player goes up to Nashville, gets sent down from Nashville, gets called up from Cincinnati, etc etc it will be made perfectly clear here. There will come times when I might happen upon things a touch later than you might find in the social media spectrum but, fret ye not, it will be up here with a bit more than a 140 character perspective of events.

Speaking of social media, I do trust you to find Admirals Roundtable content where ever it suits you best as well. I always leave our social media outlets as the signature to stories but will say this in regards to what you get from each. Twitter is where I frequent the most so it is the busiest and heaviest stream of content and/or silly pictures. Facebook is for the more laid back inclined, I’d think. I update Facebook at the end of each period of hockey rather than a full play-by-play as I would on Twitter. So, if the noise of Roundtable is getting too loud for you on Twitter simply like the Facebook page and check things out there. As for Instagram? That’s probably as laid back as it could possibly get and runs purely off of the credited photographers with my news headlines. Get the content as you would like it best I say. No matter how it gets served I’m sure you’ll enjoy it all the same.

That will do as far as re-introducing is concerned. I believe the best thing coming up is next week when practice starts up and a home exhibition game is afoot. As always, I hope to see you folks out at games and/or events that the Admirals hold during the season and look forward to the conversations we’ll be having as things motor ahead.

Any questions, thoughts, or suggestions for Admirals Roundtable? Anything you would like to see get added to the mix? Please let me know!

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Admirals Training Camp Schedule Released

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Milwaukee, it’s time for hockey. (Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

After a day of welcoming back IndyCar to Road America in Elkhart Lake – I return with some great news from the Milwaukee Admirals. The first piece of news is that the training camp schedule has been officially released. The second involves a specialty uniform that the team will wear this season.

~Training Camp Schedule~

Tuesday, Sept. 29: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm (MSOE Kern Center)

Wednesday, Sept. 30: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm (MSOE Kern Center)

Thursday, Oct. 1: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm (MSOE Kern Center)

Friday, Oct. 2: 10:00 am – 11:00 am (MSOE Kern Center)
– 7:00 pm – Exhibition Game vs. Rockford –

Saturday, Oct. 3: 10:30 am – 11:30 am (MSOE Kern Center)
– 7:00 pm – Exhibition Game @ Chicago –

Monday, Oct. 5: OFF DAY

Tuesday, Oct. 6: 10:30 am – 12:00 pm (MSOE Kern Center)

Wednesday, Oct. 7: OFF DAY

Thursday, Oct. 8: 10:30 am – 12:00 PM (Media Day @ BMO Harris Bradley Center)

Friday, Oct. 9: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm (BMO Harris Bradley Center)

Saturday, Oct. 10: 10:00 am – 11:00 am (MSOE Kern Center)
– 7:00 pm – Season Opener @ Chicago –

There you have it. In precisely one week the Admirals will be back playing hockey in downtown Milwaukee. Best of all? You can come down and watch! All dates and times listed at the MSOE Kern Center are open to the public to attend. Any practice that is featured at the BMO Harris Bradley Center is closed to the public.

I’m hoping to get out to as many of these as possible. Some days I might purely be there to watch practice. Others I might do a round of interviews back at the Bradley Center. Either way, hope to see you folks out at practice as we all get a first look at some of these new faces.

~May The Schwartz Be With You~

It feels like it has been a proper while since the Admirals have had a fun speciality uniforms. By that I mean something a little less serious. The Cancer Awareness unis represent a great cause. The camouflage fatigues looked pretty good. But what about remembering that this is still minor league hockey and you can have a laugh for one game or two? Well, ker-blammo.


(Photo Credit: Milwaukee Admirals)

How great is that? In a year when Star Wars makes its long awaited return to the big screen the Admirals will rock Stormtrooper uniforms. This is a massive winner in my book. And dare I say it, I’m tempted for once to get involved in the jersey bidding that will take place on Nov. 27 and 28. That’s correct. Two dates meaning there will be two Stormtrooper games with the opponents being the Grand Rapids Griffins and Rockford IceHogs aka Rebel Scum.

On an off-note, remember the Roundtable Mail Bag in which someone asked about the whereabouts or details on the Milwaukee Brewers patch on the new uniform? This Star Wars jersey provides an answer to that question. The retro “ball in glove” MB logo is gone and has been replaced by the current hat insignia of the Brewers. Curiously, as all uniform details are tonal in the Stormtrooper uniform, it still remains questionable how the Brewers logo will actually appear on the uniforms. Will it be BP Hat blue? Plain ol’ white with a navy outline to make it pop? Or, could it in fact be kept tonal to blend into the Admirals new color scheme? Time will answer that question. If I had to hazard a guess I’d imagine it’ll be kept as close to the bog standard hat logo – so white with an outline.

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Ramblings, Vol. 34

(Photo Credit: Jim Diamond)

Ryan Ellis’ beard is majestic. (Photo Credit: Jim Diamond)

The 2015 Rookie Tournament provided a nice appetizer for hockey’s return. Yesterday in Nashville was the pre-season opener. In short, we’ve all survived the dreaded, long, cold, and dark off-season. Hockey is back and it is fast approaching its arrival back here in Milwaukee.

~Pre-Season Double Dip~

The Nashville Predators had a double-header of pre-season games yesterday against the Florida Panthers that saw both teams split squads to handle the action. Here’s a quick run-through how the rosters split and who of the expected Milwaukee Admirals were featured.

Game 1: Anthony Bitetto, Miikka Salomäki, Pontus Åberg, Jamie Devane, Vladislav Kamenev, Trevor Murphy, Jonathan Diaby, Colton Sissons, and Marek Mazanec.

Game 2: Conor Allen, Cody Bass, Max Reinhart, Viktor Arvidsson, Kristian Näkyvä, Garrett Noonan, Max Görtz, Taylor Aronson, Félix Girard, and Juuse Saros.

~Game One~

The first contest ended with the Predators winning 5-2. Filip Forsberg opening the scoring with Kamenev adding one of his own for a 2-0 first period lead. Roman Josi extended the Predators advantage to 3-0 in the second period. Halfway through the frame Mazanec relieved Carter Hutton to split the goaltending duties for the game.

In the third period, disaster, as Salomäki was slapped with a five minute major for boarding and a game misconduct after tagging defenseman Josh Brown. Unfortunately this is not the first time something like this has happened with Miikka. So, for those wondering if his shoulder injury that put him out of the end of last season would alter his tenacity or aggressiveness in his return to the ice… the answer is a hard no. I would add here though that having him play a settled down or muffled style ruins what makes a player like Salomäki so fun to watch. Hopefully this incident doesn’t hurt his reputation with his team and beyond but I imagine a talking to about “being smarter” was had between player and coaches.

After that incident cooled the two sides exchanges a back-and-forth of power-play goals. Forsberg added a power-play goal for his second goal of the game. In an unrelated story Martin Erat recently signed with Avangard Omsk of the KHL. The Panthers finally ended the combined shutout bid with power-play goal of their own from Connor Brickley. Nashville would add one last tally in game one when Sissons contributed a power-play goal. And the final bit of scoring would come off the tape of Jussi Jokinen on a power-play to see Mazanec’s day in net have two goals allowed attached to his name. Both were on the power-play so I suppose you can only be so harsh on Maz.

~Game Two~

This game was a little less explosive but that should really be expected when the Finnish National Team’s goaltending duo are representing Nashville. Pekka Rinne made the start and Saros would enter mid-way through the second period. The game spilled to overtime where Nashville was treated to their first glimpse of three-on-three OT hockey. The Panthers would take this one 3-2 in overtime to split the day.

Who opened the scoring in game two you ask? Guess. *pause* If you guessed Aronson you would be correct! Aronson scored with he and fellow Admirals-defenseman Noonan both up on the play. How about that? And then Carrie Underwood‘s hubby scored to make it 2-0. Aleksander Barkovreportedly– made Rinne look very un-Rinne on a breakaway to make things 2-1 at the end of one.

The scoreline remained at a 2-1 margin all the way until the final minutes of the game. With 2:17 remaining Florida was able to beat Saros with a power-play goal from a man who should be very familiar to Admirals fans, Shane Harper (formerly of the Chicago Wolves). The game would be settled with three-on-three overtime and defenseman Mike Matheson would see to it that the Panthers clawed back from a 2-0 hole to get a 3-2 overtime win.


All in all, I like much of what I’ve seen from names that we’ll be seeing in Milwaukee. Seeing Sissons get on the scoresheet, power-play or not, I think is an important confidence builder for him after a slow start last season with his Nashville camp not going the way he’d hoped possibly lingering over him. It’s a good first step and a “remember me” to Nashville. Kamenev getting a goal? Aronson getting a goal? It’s all great stuff as well as seeing how Saros doesn’t seem too ill affected by the speed of the North American game in net.

Plenty to be giddy about at the moment. Add a slice of that Salomäki game misconduct, penalties on Bitetto and Girard, and a poor showing from Kevin Fiala and I think that should give you the level headed feeling you need to have come Admirals season. There’s excitement, yes. Maturity level on the ice and being able to put together complete games and avoid long losing skids? That’s the story to wait and see play out as far as the Admirals go in 2015-16.

~All He Does Is Score Goals~

If you missed this news on the weekend then this should raise your brow. Gary Steffes will not be back with the Admirals for this season. In fact, he won’t even be in the AHL. He re-signed with the Allen Americans of the ECHL last Thursday.

This comes as a slight shock to me considering he scored 52 goals in all competitions last season – ECHL regular season with Allen, late in the AHL season with the Admirals on a loan move, and then the ECHL playoff run with Allen that ended with he and his teammates winning the 2015 Kelly Cup. What more could there possibly be left for him to accomplish in the ECHL after a season like that? Is the market, specifically AHL, that poor that no one was willing to take a chance on him? It kind of leaves me mystified. My only hope for him is that he puts up another blistering scoring season with Allen and an AHL team gives him the shot he’s earned.

~Ramble, Ramble~

Some great news. This should be the last edition of Ramblings for quite awhile. Heck, I finally brained up and removed ‘Summer’ from the title. September isn’t exactly my idea of Summer. Anywho, expect things to really ramp up as we near camp opening up here in Milwaukee soon. I’m hoping to get an idea of when an Admirals group will be setup for practices at the MSOE Kern Center and an actual main camp begins. When that happens I’ll let you folks know.

Remember, practices at the MSOE Kern Center are open to the public. Getting out to a morning skate to greet the team and make some of these new players feel welcome is a fun thing. I highly recommend swinging by for a practice or two or more sometime this season.

Roundtable should be getting into full-stride pretty soon. I’ll get some things gathered for the end of the week. In the meantime my mind is firmly set on attending the first full practice that the Admirals will have downtown and the eventual interview session afterwards. Plenty of new faces to see and get to know this season. It’s exciting times. All that’s really left is for the puck to drop.

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Nashville Sign Trevor Murphy to Entry Level Deal

(Photo Credit: Terry Wilson // OHL Images)

MOAR DEFENSEMEN MOAR. (Photo Credit: Terry Wilson // OHL Images)

Today the Nashville Predators announced the signing of defenseman Trevor Murphy to a three-year entry level contract.

Press Release via Nashville Predators:

Nashville, Tenn. (September 17, 2015) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Thursday that the team has signed defenseman Trevor Murphy to a three-year entry-level contract.

Murphy, 20 (7/17/95), has spent the past four seasons in the Ontario Hockey League split between the Peterborough Petes (2011-12) and the Windsor Spitfires (2012-15), amassing 140 points (42g-98a) and 296 penalty minutes in 235 games. Serving as an alternate captain for his hometown Spitfires in 2014-15, the Windsor, Ont., native ranked third among OHL defensemen in goals (24), tied for fourth in points (63) and ranked fifth in assists (39). The 5-10, 175 pounder was also one of just two OHL blueliners to post at least 40 points and 100 penalty minutes during the campaign.

A teammate of Predators forward Austin Watson with Peterborough in 2011-12, Murphy attended Predators Development Camp in July, Rookie Camp last week, and is currently in attendance at Training Camp.

This is a solid signing for the Predators organization. And one that appears to be his former general manager’s worst nightmare. Murphy has put up great offensive numbers throughout his time in the Ontario Hockey League with both the Peterborough Petes and Windsor Spitfires but really exploded in the 2014-15 season: 63 points (24 goals, 39 assists) in 59 games. Grain of salt with last season is a plus/minus of -15 and 105 penalty minutes.

The addition of Murphy it creates a situation that should have fans in Cincinnati very excited. Last season was a slight defensive log jam. This season more than trumps it. Without naming Murphy the Admirals are already slated to have the likes of Anthony Bitetto, Conor Allen, Taylor Aronson, Johan Alm, Jonathan Diaby, Jimmy Oligny, Garrett Noonan, Jaynen Rissling, Mikko Vainonen, and Kristian Näkyvä as options on defense. To put it bluntly, our losses in Milwaukee are Cincinnati’s gain this season – and the gain should be pretty solid.

Thinking about this as a long term project, as this is a three-year entry level contract, it is also a smart move. Defensemen whose contracts are set to expire after this season include all but Diaby, Rissling, and Vainonen. The bulk on the out are RFA’s while Allen, Aronson, Bitetto, and Oligny will become UFA’s. No matter who stays and who goes the Predators just brought in one solid project that will be in the organization. It’s been awhile since the Admirals in particular have had a defenseman who could really load up on offense. Murphy could be that guy before a potential leap up into the NHL.

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Zach Budish Signs With The Cincinnati Cyclones

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

Big Head, Bigger Goals. (Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

It looks as if Zach Budish will still remain relatively close in the organization. The 24-year old right winger just signed an ECHL contract with the Cincinnati Cyclones for the 2015-16 season. Budish has played his entire professional career to this point within the Nashville Predators organization after being selected in the second round of the 2009 NHL Draft. He has played a role with both the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL and Cyclones in the ECHL and is coming off of his most productive season to date.

Press Release via Cincinnati Cyclones:

CINCINNATI, OH- The Cincinnati Cyclones have signed forward Zach Budish for the 2015-2016 season. The 24-year-old skated in 30 games for Cincinnati last season, however spend the bulk of the year with the American Hockey League’s (AHL) Milwaukee Admirals.

“Zach is a player we have seen in the past two years at times, and he always bring a great work ethic,” said Cyclones Head Coach Matt MacDonald. “He has been a player we have leaned on in all situations, and we know he brings a lot to our team both offensively and defensively. He’s also a player who will compete every day, and brings the character and attitude we want in our organization.”

Drafted in the second round by the Nashville Predators in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Budish accounted for eight goals and 15 assists while in a Cyclones uniform last season. His offensive presence was felt early and often, as he registered a four-point outing (1g, 3a) on November 22 against Kalamazoo, and put together a pair of five-game point streaks from December 3-13 (2g, 3a), and December 27-January 23 (4g, 2a). The Edina, MN, native also saw action in 43 games for Milwaukee, totaling six goals and eight assists.

Budish split time between Cincinnati and Milwaukee in 2013-14 as well, skating in 16 games with the ‘Clones and accounting for three goals and six assists. He spent the first half of the season with the Admirals where he saw an identical stat line of three goals and six assists.

Prior to turning pro in 2013, Budish enjoyed a successful collegiate career at the University of Minnesota, where he amassed 94 points (35g, 59a) over four seasons, and served as team captain during his senior year in 2012-13.

The countdown to the 2015-16 First Face-Off is underway! The Cyclones will return to U.S. Bank Arena on Saturday, October 17 when they host the Toledo Walleye at 7:30pm. Between now and then, be on the lookout for several offseason events like Meijer Concrete Clones! 2015-16 Season Ticket Packages are available NOW! Call 513.421.PUCK to reserve your seats. Fans can also get the latest team updates throughout the offseason on Facebook, Twitter (@CincyCyclones), and Instagram!

In 2014-15, Budish split time between the AHL and ECHL but it was his time with the Cyclones that really helped vault him into the Admirals lineup until season’s end. He produced 23 points (8 goals, 15 assists) in 30 games for the Cyclones and then 14 points (6 goals, 8 assists) in 43 games for the Admirals. It was -again- his best pro season yet and his solid work could also be found away from the rink. Budish was voted the Milwaukee Admirals 2014-15 Man of the Year for his contributions to the local community.

Being that this is an ECHL deal it would take a loan move or for the Admirals to buyout Budish’s contract from the Cyclones before you see him again in Milwaukee. Should he put all the pieces together as he did in Cincinnati at the start of last season there’s no reason to believe that couldn’t happen. It’ll be nice having Mr. Big Head back under our ECHL affiliate’s banner.

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