The Nashville Predators Rookie Camp opens up September 10th. It’s nearly time for hockey to mercifully be re-introduced to our lives with the off-season schedule almost at an end. Until then, this is what I like to think of as the hardest part of the off-season. It’s almost over. The new season is in sight yet so far away at the exact same time.
~Projecting Line Combinations~
For the sake of amusement I thought I’d throw out a guess as to how the Milwaukee Admirals lines might look come opening night. I’ll preface this by saying I won’t include Vladislav Kamenev in the event he winds up being loaned back to Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL rather than play in the AHL this coming season. There is no confirmation of that move going down but it’s a good possibility. I’d wait until Nashville’s main camp gets rolling along before anything of that sort could take place. He could well go the way of Kevin Fiala last season: head across the pond to start with his old team before making his North American pro hockey debut in Milwaukee mid-way through the season.
Also, despite taking part in this summer’s Rookie Development Camp in Nashville, Eric Robinson still hasn’t signed or been confirmed to have signed an NHL/AHL contract to keep him in the Predators or Admirals system. I feel that news will turn up and Robinson will be an ECHL role player that contributes for the Cincinnati Cyclones this season while getting some looks back up in the AHL.
That all said. Here is what I’m expecting the Admirals to closely resemble on the opening night of the 2015-16 AHL season.
That’s a rough outline for now. I’m feeling more and more than Fiala’s season starts in the NHL with the Predators. Plus, I feel Garrett Noonan might still be down the pecking order to the likes of Diaby and Oligny. Depending on how the defensive competition for roster spots play out it could come down to Noonan, Jaynen Rissling, and Kristian Näkyvä being that extra body that stays up with Milwaukee and gets healthy scratched and rotated in here and there out the starting blocks.
“People go so much harder to the net here,” said Hellberg. “They actually shoot more for rebounds. You have to think where you put the rebounds. You have to fight through a lot more traffic than you have to do at home. Obviously the ice is much bigger home so they have more time and they maybe skate around and hold the puck more but here it’s more like a straight game where people put the puck to the net and just go hard. It took awhile to managed some of the aspects of that.”
Of course we are talking about two completely different goaltenders. Mazanec’s transition to North American ice didn’t seem too bad in his first five starts with the Admirals. Perhaps the same will be said of Saros. Who knows? What will be smarter for all involved though is to integrate Saros in slowly at the start of the season and let him be as prepared to succeed as possible before launching him into the thick of it. There will be plenty for Saros to process but, with some time, I think he could compete for the number one role with Mazanec by season’s end.
Again, that’s a rough outline right now. I’m still feeling as if more pieces should be introduced at some point – as the lone extra forward, should Kamenev dart back to Russia, isn’t even a confirmed signing yet (Robinson). The forward depth still needs help and I’m a bit surprised why it’s taking so long to address. Tommy Veilleux? I don’t know – but more bodies are needed.
Thoughts on the projected Milwaukee Admirals line combinations? Disagree with them? Submit your own line combinations and explanations below in the comments section.