Milwaukee Admirals 2017-18 Season Preview

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

We’re a week away from Milwaukee Admirals Pre-Season Training Camp. Festivities will be taking place from the MSOE Kern Center next week Tuesday and will build towards two exhibition matches. The Admirals will travel to the BMO Harris Bank Center next Thursday before hosting the Chicago Wolves inside the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena next Saturday. The week that follows that is the final preparation before the 2017-18 season officially begins. The Admirals start on the road against the Iowa Wild.

To get everyone prepared before all the action picks up it is time to look over some of the key storylines heading into Training Camp and the 2017-18 season. This season proves to be a bit more mysterious than last season. Who is the starting goaltender? Where is all the offense going to come from? Is the Nashville Predators organizational depth finally starting to stretch thin at the AHL level? These are questions that should be answered quickly into the season. Let’s preview what to expect come Training Camp and into the start of the new season.

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Admirals Roundtable 101

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Today marks Day 1 of Training Camp for the Nashville Predators. There are plenty of names in the mix to keep an eye on because it isn’t long before the Milwaukee Admirals will be opening up their Training Camp prior to the start of the 2017-18 season. It’s with that in mind that we feel it best to get everyone set, old and new, for a new campaign here at Admirals Roundtable before we shift into maximum overdrive. Let’s go over the groundwork for some of “what” and “when” we do things.

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Roundtable Mailbag

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM CST will mark Game 3 in the Pre-Season Rookie Tournament. That will conclude the rookie slate of the schedule before the main camp begins on Thursday. And, with the wait before Milwaukee Admirals Training Camp gets underway, it feels overdue for a proper Admirals Roundtable Mailbag. Feel free to continually ask questions and have them added and answered below the jump.

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Defensive Depth Back In Focus

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Yesterday the Nashville Predators provided an update to defenseman Ryan Ellis. It wasn’t exactly ideal or uplifting news to hear. Ellis sustained a knee injury during the 2017 NHL Stanley Cup Finals and required surgery shortly after its completion. He won’t be ready for a return until late-December or early-January. While that might sound like a buzzkill as on-ice activities start brewing in Nashville it only highlights the biggest strength of the Predators organization: its defensive depth.

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Predators Rookie & Training Camp Roster

(Photo Credit: Jamie Wahl)

Yesterday, the Nashville Predators announced their Pre-Season schedule and rosters for both the Rookie Tournament and following Training Camp. The Rookie Tournament roster can be found here and the Training Camp roster can be found here. Both are subject to change but offer a quick glimpse into those competing in a week’s time. Also, for the uniform enthusiast, you might notice quite a few members of the Milwaukee Admirals getting either brand new rookie numbers or their choice of uniform numbers.

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Goaltending & The Unknown

(Photo Credit: Charlotte Checkers // flickr)

The mystery surrounding what on Earth was going on with Marek Mazanec has now been answered. Before that ever happened though the organization already made good on its promise to bring in three goaltenders: Anders Lindbäck, Matt O’Connor, and Jake Paterson. Mazanec would have offered a nice, stable, and reliable option for the Milwaukee Admirals. Mazanec also would have also been a decent enough fit for the third choice option in net for the Nashville Predators. It was evident early he wouldn’t be back. It was evident as the signings came around that the three don’t match Mazanec’s current comfort blanket feeling. Should Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros suffer injury of any length during the 2017-18 season who really is that next man up?

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Marek Mazanec Signs with HC Slovan Bratislava

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

This saga has finally come to its completion. Marek Mazanec has officially signed with HC Slovan Bratislava in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). In the release from the Slovakian club it states a mutual terms of release between Mazanec and the Nashville Predators after having signed a new one-year, two-way contract at the end of July.

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From The Brink To The Rink

(Photo Credit: Daniel Lavender)
Last season, I broke a rule of mine that was an important one for myself. When I started at Admirals Roundtable I didn’t want to be anything more than the byline. I had written on a few occasions how difficult things were becoming behind the scenes. I was mentally burned out. After spending five seasons around the Milwaukee Admirals it felt like I needed to hit the reset button on my career aspirations.

As I’ve continued getting things published here throughout the off-season, attending Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp, revamping the website’s look and functionality, and making business partnerships for the 2017-18 season – I’ve been receiving a lot of “are you back” questions. The simple answer is: Yes. The more complex answer involves me breaking my rule again. I need to tell my story.

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Veteran Minds Adding to the 2017-18 Puzzle

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

If you were to look over the Milwaukee Admirals run under head coach Dean Evason you would see a rather successful regular season squad that has yet to escape the first round of the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. The playoff run in the Evason era is 1-12 with three successive exits via sweep and an eleven game losing streak. The Admirals last playoff win came against the Texas Stars on 27 April, 2013. They won 2-0 behind a 23-save shutout by Magnus Hellberg and received goals from Austin Watson and then team captain Mike Moore. Watson wasn’t the only current Nashville Predators player on the roster for that last playoff win for Admirals. Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm were both active in that game.

What can standout from the playoff exits that followed is the team’s youth and veteran leadership structure sometimes not providing for the greatest of on-ice consistency. In the season after that last playoff win, 2013-14, the captain was Scott Ford and his alternates were Joe Piskula and Mark Van Guilder. 2014-15, the Admirals went with Piskula as captain and saw a then 20-year old Colton Sissons join Van Guilder as an alternate captain. The Admirals streak of twelve consecutive playoff appearances ended that season. 2015-16, Sissons would be made team captain with a veritable hodgepodge of alternate captains behind him in a season where he played 38 games in the AHL and 34 games in the NHL.

Establishing a core leadership group comprised of veteran talent started last season with the arrival of Trevor Smith. He was on top of a leadership group that had many other solid and established players behind him: Cody Bass, Harry Zolnierczyk, Adam Pardy, and Mike Liambas. While some of those names have either moved on or are still free agents the process of keeping a veteran leadership group has remained a focal point for the Admirals. And it is almost already solidified after yesterday’s signing of Bobby Butler.

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