Happy Monday, everybody. Firstly, I hope you all had a fantastic Fourth of July weekend. Secondly, I think today would be a nice day to take a look at the Milwaukee Admirals roster so far. There are tons of pieces in place to make the team a real entertaining team to watch already but there’s still a question to be asked. Is more needed? Well let’s take a look.
I know there might be some names missing (Taylor Aronson and Anthony Bitetto – RFA process). Plus I also included Fiala’s name even though he could well start the season up with the Nashville Predators. In fact, there are a few names among the forwards that could start in the NHL depending on how the stars align. Oh, and Vainonen isn’t a lock to return to North America either. The point is that this is the bare bones roster that exists right now.
An immediate thing that I love about the Admirals roster is the versatility up front. There are lots of options for Dean Evason to play with. With so many centers, even some wingers who can play the position, it affords moving some out on the wing – a possible plus for Watson who has excelled on the wing the last season and a half. Most wingers are also adaptable to working on either the left or right side which can help mixing and matching line combinations.
What still could be an issue is the defense. Once again each and every defensemen is a left-handed shot. Should Aronson rejoin it would add one – but that’s it. Having that blend seemed to help the Admirals a touch last season when an Ian White or Scott Ford were in the mix. I think yet another righty or two from the point would be a welcome addition – if even just an ECHL option.
As I said, the fact that there are so many centers means that lines can be easily mixed and matched. What I think will end up happening is for Watson and Gaudreau to kick out on the wing with Pendenza being utilized as the fourth line center. It allows Watson to be put in a better position to succeed on the wing as he can be added to an attacking line up top.
Not too shabby, right? There’s still uncertainty as to any other additions and where they might factor in but this should give a nice cheat sheet for those wanting to play arm-chair GM and figure out what needs to be helped out. Personally, it’s still defense for me. Mazanec can go into ‘deer in headlights’ mode and Saros will be adjusting to the pace and gameplay of North American hockey. They won’t be helped out too much with a group that doesn’t really feature that many stay at home defensemen – really only Diaby, Alm, and Rissling are those sort of players. Looking to add a veteran or sturdy AHL defenseman, possibly two, could help out a lot.
As for forwards, if someone like Fiala makes the Predators roster out of camp than alternative options are needed. Heck, with this roster there are only three players headed to the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL and none of them are forwards (Vainonen, Rissling, Whitney).
I feel like bringing back Gary Steffes and Eric Robinson as wingers would be a solid move considering they’re already adjusted to the coaching staff and quite a few players on and off the ice. If Steffes were to join with Fiala up – I would pencil Steffes directly in Fiala’s place due to his chemistry with Sissons at the end of the 2014-15 season.
Other options? There’s plenty still out there in the AHL alone. Free Agency is still very young. Waiting for the parent club to conduct their business seems to be what the Admirals are going through at the moment. To date, the Predators have helped a lot with their two-way contracted players signed so far. When bigger names in their RFA pool sign I feel the roster shapes up and the Admirals can look for certain names to snag.
Put yourself in the GM suit for a moment: what do you make of your current AHL roster, what needs help, how do you address it, who would you target as free agent AHL signings, and are you confident that those in-camp right now are good enough to maintain AHL status for this season?