Were you in the boat that considered the Nashville Predators defensive nucleus to be far too small? Well fear not because they have added one more piece to the puzzle. Today the Predators signed defenseman Johan Alm to a two-year entry level contract.
Nashville Predators press release:
Alm, 22 (1/28/92), has spent the past four seasons in the Skelleftea organization, winning back-to-back Swedish League titles in 2013 and 2014, and earning silver medals in 2011 and 2012. In 135 SHL games with Skelleftea and Frolunda since 2009-10, the 6-2, 209-pound blueliner has amassed 22 points (4g-18a), 72 penalty minutes and a +24 rating. He ranked fourth among all skaters in the 2014 SHL Playoffs in plus/minus rating (+9), after posting seven points (1g-6a) and a +16 rating in 30 games during the regular season. Six times in the last six seasons Alm has been a part of a championship or runner-up team at the under-18, junior or senior Swedish league levels.
Considering what the make-up in Nashville consists of: Shea Weber, Roman Josi, Michael Del Zotto, Seth Jones, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, and Victor Bartley :you then look to just how stacked the Milwaukee Admirals are going to be with young defensemen. The projected d-men in the 2014-15 roster right now consists of Jonathan Diaby, Garrett Noonan, Jaynen Rissling, and Mikko Vainonen. That doesn’t include the recently added Alm, nor Taylor Aronson, and also doesn’t include restricted/unrestricted free agent properties such as Anthony Bitetto (RFA), Scott Ford (UFA), Joonas Jarvinen (RFA), Joe Piskula (UFA), Bryan Rodney (UFA), Charles-Olivier Roussel (RFA), or Scott Valentine (RFA).
There are plenty of veteran variables to consider in that crop of free agents and some that should return from RFA status. Predators Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton had this to say in an article posted by our friend Jeremy K. Gover at Cellblock 303:
“They’re all kids that are slated to play an awful lot there,” Predators Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton said. “Those four guys are particularly going to cut their teeth in Milwaukee and, hopefully, do a good job for us. They all play a variety of roles. Some are defensive, some are size guys and some are offensive guys.”
“We have some decisions to make on a lot of the other guys, including Valentine,” Fenton said.
“I don’t see any of our guys [in Milwaukee] who can unseat somebody here in Nashville,” Fenton confirmed. “Bitetto is pushing to get some time [at the NHL level] and we’re hoping that Noonan is closer than you think because he’s 23 years old.”
“Our young defense corps we think [is] as good as anybody’s in the league,” Fenton said. “We just have to let them grow.”
There is a lot said there by Fenton that fascinates me – especially the quote regarding Bitetto and Noonan. The fact of the matter is, no matter who is re-signed or brought in, the Predators organization is head-to-toe drowning in some solid young defensemen. That is a great problem to have. The lone question mark to float out there from me is this: doesn’t that young core in Milwaukee next season need some veteran presences around to help them on and off the ice? When I say that I directly point to Piskula and Ford as possible returning options with that leadership role in mind. I just wonder, with the committed bodies already coming in next season, whether or not there is room for both.
What do you make of the Johan Alm signing? What does this mean for the Milwaukee Admirals defensive core for next season? Does the Alm signing mean we won’t see certain RFA/UFA Admirals returning? Should any of the young names above be in the ECHL with the Cincinnati Cyclones and work their way up?