Taking a quick look at the statistics, it might seem obvious who has been the most valuable defenseman on the Admirals so far this season. Through 20 games of his first full professional season Ryan Ellis’ numbers stand out (4 goals, 11 assists and 15 points).
Yet, I shall argue that Tyler Sloan–not Ellis–has been Milwaukee’s top blueliner.
Here is my case for Sloan. Through 17 games Sloan has just four points, but carries a plus/minus rating of +10 (tops for Milwaukee defensemen, and second on the Admirals behind Ryan Thang).
However, it is the intangibles that set Sloan apart. Sloan’s superior plus/minus rating comes despite playing against the other team’s top lines most nights. And Sloan’s play brings with it the experience of playing 99 games over the past three seasons in the NHL for the Washington Capitals (and four additional games in the playoffs).
Paired alongside Ellis, Sloan allows the rookie the chance to develop in the AHL with a more than capable wing man at his side. Plus when Milwaukee made a coaching change last week, Sloan, who went through a similar change with Hershey, could help guide his younger teammates through the transition.
Nothing against Ellis, I think he is going to be a great NHL player (and even a potential star), but right now if I had to choose one defenseman on Milwaukee to be on the ice for a 2-on-1 against, I would pick Tyler Sloan.