Let’s start this Monday off with the obvious and point at how slow news has been. The Nashville Predators did a decent bit of business once free agency opened up but, outside of some quick re-signings when the season ended, we’ve yet to see the Milwaukee Admirals make a signing of their own. Other AHL teams have been active during this time period getting players into the squad. Is that to say the current amount of bodies in the Predators AHL and ECHL pipeline is deep enough to not require it? I don’t think so but it is a bit odd to me that business has been this slow or that they would be waiting so long to come to grips with adding someone.
~DANGER Eric Robinson DANGER~
The first player that comes to mind in terms of an Admirals signing is Eric Robinson. He signed on with the Admirals late last season on an ATO contract once he finished up at Dartmouth College and attended the recent Rookie Development Camp in Nashville. It seems like he’s destined to be signed. The only question could be whether Nashville are the ones looking at signing him versus the Admirals. Either way, it feels like it would be a slam dunk adding Robinson to the mix for how he looked in Milwaukee late last season. Even if he spent the majority of his time with the Cincinnati Cyclones as an AHL level winger on standby it works. Why has that deal not been stamped out yet or announced? Not sure.
~The Other Guys~
That brings me to another topic which has been amusing to follow the last few weeks. Mark Van Guilder, Zach Budish, Josh Shalla, Scott Ford, and Gary Steffes are all still free agents. I hazard to guess whether some of those names are just sitting tight for North American deals or if a leap to European ice could be in the cards but the fact that they remain stationary is intriguing. I was thinking of doing a résumé for all of them just to help them out. Instead, here is a small pro and con list to you Admirals Roundtable reading general managers out there!
Pros: Face-offs, penalty killing, experience that provides on and off ice leadership
Cons: Age, numbers declining
Pros: Coming off best season in pro career, stayed healthy and performance reflected the results of that, defensively sound, won “Man of the Year” for the Admirals last season
Cons: Still split time between the AHL and ECHL last season, at the age of 24 he might be at his ceiling
Pros: Scores points
Pros: Scores points in the ECHL
Pros: A natural leader/captain, battle tested on the ice, is still in great shape for someone who will turn 36-years old before Christmas
Cons: He turns 36-years old before Christmas, he was reduced to ECHL hockey last season and might not be quick enough for the AHL anymore
Pros: Scored 61 goals in all competitions and contributed to the Allen Americans ECHL Kelly Cup win last season
Cons: Did majority of goal scoring damage in the ECHL, 28-years old, despite age hasn’t played in the AHL often
I get the feeling all have a home for hockey before the start of the 2015-16 playing season. The question simply becomes, where? I wouldn’t be shocked to see Van Guilder head to Europe like Darren Haydar did. Budish should get an AHL deal but could just as easily make the leap to Europe. Shalla could well be finding himself in a “turn up to an AHL pre-season camp to impress” mode but is likely only seeing ECHL interest if that. Ford took awhile before getting a deal with an ECHL team last season and wasn’t bad. I do really wonder if he, and Steffes for that matter, could be on the Admirals radar. At the very least, especially between those two, it is Steffes who earned an AHL contract and shot for this coming season. I fully expect Steffes to be an AHL player this season simply based on his outstanding offensive production last season alone. Someone will give him a shot. I’d rather it be the Admirals than *cough* Rockford or Toronto.
~Hold On, Comrades~
If you’re like me you are probably excited about some of the new prospects that we’ll be getting to kick back and watch this season here in Milwaukee. Juuse Saros is the one I’m really giddy about. After a year of waiting I really want to see Max Görtz play for the Admirals. And then Vladislav Kamenev should be here after being released by his KHL team and signing his entry-level contract with the Predators. At least he should be here, right?
Metallurg’s GM just went on record yesterday saying if Kamenev didn’t make the Preds team he would return to the KHL
— Bryant Fair (@OTFBryantFair) July 27, 2015
Well, tartar sauce. I will say that just because that sort of news item exists doesn’t make it some sort of set in stone fact. Perhaps there is even something lost in translation as well. Kamenev really stands next to no chance at being on the Predators opening day roster but could easily be part of the one for the Admirals.
What would be fascinating to see happen is if Kamenev gets loaned back to Russia for this coming season to allow for better breathing room at the center position in Milwaukee and let the Russian teen get one more year of KHL senior team experience under his belt before taking to North American ice full-time. Think about the current center role for the Admirals at the moment. Counting all centers, including those who can alternate from wing to center or center to wing, there are eight options right now that aren’t named Kamenev destined for the Admirals: Cody Bass, Frédérick Gaudreau, Félix Girard, Joe Pendenza, Max Reinhart, Miikka Salomäki, Colton Sissons, and Austin Watson. It wouldn’t hurt the Admirals at all if Kamenev were to be loaned for the season. It’s really more of a question to Nashville whether they feel Kamenev’s development should be accelerated to North American hockey right now or give him more time in Europe.
Equally, I’m reminded of Kevin Fiala‘s 2014-15 season. Fiala signed his entry level contract in July before being loaned back to HV71 in Sweden where he played until January when the Predators assigned him to the Admirals to finish out his playing season. In other words, Nashville have all the options in the world when it comes to Kamenev and pretty much any way they went with works just fine for all parties. It comes down to how Nashville want to develop him is all.
Do you find it at all strange that the Admirals haven’t snapped anyone up to AHL contracts in free agency? Is the team set and where it needs to be right now? Where do you think Van Guilder and the rest of the 14-15 Admirals free agents end up next season? What should the Predators organization do with Kamenev?