Happy Monday, Roundtable. Last week brought lots of excitement to the world of the Milwaukee Admirals: Anthony Bitetto and Taylor Aronson were both re-signed by the Nashville Predators, the Predators extended their affiliation agreement with the Cincinnati Cyclones to keep them as the ECHL club for the 2015-16 season, and the Admirals unveiled a brand spankin’ new identity. I can only suspect this to keep escalating on and on until the season actually begins! That or there will be slow news week after slow news week until the schedule gets unveiled and pre-season starts up. Either/or. I’m good.
First matter of business I would like to let you all be aware that in the next few weeks I will be playing around with Admirals Roundtable’s overall look and layout. If you come to the site and it looks different or crazy… it isn’t you.. it’s me. I’m hoping to make things look as clean as possible. Any and all comments, suggestions, or ideas for updating the website I’d really appreciate to hear your feedback. If I can make this website all the more fan and user friendly it would be great. You providing your ideas can make it that much better.
Again, the website will be undergoing some changes here and there. When things are completed and I’m satisfied with the overall package I will let you all know. Until then, I’ll be playing around with various items in WordPress to see if I can’t not spruce up the place to go along with the Admirals new look. Which brings me perfectly to the first bullet point story.
~The Last Poll~
Now that the weekend is complete I can go back to our poll to tally up your grades on the new look of the Milwaukee Admirals. I think it was a great reflection of what I heard from fans in-person when the “All Aboard” event launched the new logos and uniforms. It is thumbs up. Thumbs way way up.
A: 72.25% (151 votes)
B: 19.14% (40 votes)
C: 7.18% (15 votes)
D: 0.96% (2 votes)
F: 0.47% (1 vote)
(209 total votes)
Entertaining that the grades even fell out perfectly in order of A, B, C, D, and F. As for that one fan who gave them an F? …joke is on you buddy (I kid, I kid, thanks for voting your honest opinion).
What’s great to see how many have taken to them straight away. I feel once the Admirals take to the ice and these uniforms and logos have some in-game use it will be interesting to go back to doing another poll to see if there is a change. Frankly, I was expecting mid-tier to “B” grades with most fans warming up to the new look once the season got going. I’m not everybody but I expect seeing these logos and uniforms in a game will make me love them even more than I do now. That word “evolution” on the new look from the old one sums it up for me. It’s not too different but different enough. I really like that and, evidently, so do you fans.
The hard hitting piece to today’s edition of Ramblings is all about the Admirals defense for next season. This is a topic that started up with a season ticket holder at the event last Wednesday and it is one I’m hoping gets addressed before the season starts.
The Admirals defense was rather sloppy last season and did so with someone like Joe Piskula playing great on one of the three defensive pairings. He’s gone now. And the next oldest veteran defensemen that take that mantle are Conor Allen and Anthony Bitetto – both of whom are six-years younger than Piskula. The defensive group might be deep as it stands right now -but- the youth in this team is going to be equally as punishing as it was last season unless a real anchor is brought back into the mix.
Were Piskula still around? I feel pretty good about how the Admirals stack up defensively to help out Marek Mazanec and Juuse Saros. Without him? I feel like it forces players like Taylor Aronson, Johan Alm, and Jonathan Diaby to really step up to the plate with far greater seasons than last year. That presents a solid question. Can they?
Aronson only just completed a full AHL season last year, was good offensively, but hit and miss on defense. He will not only need to prove that the 2014-15 season wasn’t a flash in the pan for him but that he is ready to take another step and be an NHL caliber player – something Bitetto pushed for last season. Aronson garnered enough respect last season to be re-signed by the Predators for another season. Should he fail to meet anything less than doing more than last season he would be letting the Predators, Admirals, and himself down.
Alm seemed to be a really great find by the Predators when he signed as a free agent last summer. Now it feels like he needs to prove that to be true. He’s not only one of the older of the ‘young’ defense but he’s perhaps the most seasoned by having played 135 games of pro hockey in Sweden prior to making the North American trek last season. His debut as an Admiral was problematic and some of which wasn’t all his fault. He suffered an injury that sidelined him for much of the first half of the Admirals season and didn’t seem to start finding a groove until later in the season. And that’s not saying much because his groove late in the season was an eleven-game stretch in March where he tallied 5 assists with an even plus/minus (+1, -2, E, E, E, +1, -3, E, E, E, +3). Much like Aronson I think Alm is in a do or die sort of season. Does he flourish and perform up to the same standards that saw Nashville sign him or does he head back to Europe like Joonas Järvinen?
Diaby is a player I have some real high hopes for thanks in-part to his experience last season. There specifically was a stretch in February when injuries hit Nashville and Milwaukee and it forced Mike Liambas to substitute in as a defenseman from his left wing role with the team. In that time Diaby was thrust into the top defensive line and looked great while there. He’s not the scoring type. He’s the big and physical d-man that can make putting pucks past and pucks to the net difficult. It’s honing in on those skills for him that could make him a great second or third line defenseman this season. If he can be really consistent it takes a massive weight off of Bitetto or Allen to be “the man” defensively.
All that said, and there are still the likes of: Jimmy Oligny, Garrett Noonan, Jaynen Rissling, Mikko Vainonen, and Kristian Näkyvä. All equally have question marks. Can Oligny be solid enough all season to not be scratched? Will Noonan be polished enough to stick in the AHL all season? Can Rissling continue off of a good Rookie Camp and push his way out of the ECHL? Will Vainonen stick around or be shipped back home like last season? Can Näkyvä adapt and be a hit in North America?
My simple message here is look at the amount of question marks as red flags. Are those red flags worth taking a risk on seeing answered on the fly? Let the prospects be prospects, make mistakes, win as a team, lose as a team, etc. It’s essentially where the Admirals stand at this present and if a veteran defenseman were added it would just be a more comfortable environment that could take some of the weight off of those questions.
Do the Admirals need more veteran players added to the team? Would you be in favor of letting the prospects play to let them make mistakes and learn from them? Surprised at all by the poll results regarding the Admirals rebranding?