Today marked the first day of training camp for the Milwaukee Admirals. Practice at the MSOE Kern Center went on for a little over an hour and a half. And it was fantastic getting a glimpse of the new and returning talent.
The roster revealed yesterday was all there minus one name, Marek Mazanec. The Czech goaltender was back home to be there for the birth of his first child. The Admirals received help in the form of Dov Grumet-Morris to fill the void in net at practice today. Mazanec is expected to rejoin the Admirals this weekend. The plan initially was to have him start Saturday night’s exhibition game on the road against the Chicago Wolves but, due to fatigue or jet lag, there is a question mark as to whether or not that holds true. It seems very likely that Brandon Whitney gets the nod for Friday night’s game against the Rockford IceHogs.
As far as line combinations go I expect things to change up here and there as training camp marches on. I’m not entirely expecting the lines I saw today in practice be what we see on opening night. That said, here is how the forwards rolled out today.
If any line catches my eye it’d be that second line. I’d love for that pairing to stick because the skill level of all three would be a joy to watch in a game situation. Another note worth mentioning. It seems the Admirals will be committed to Rissling as a winger rather than as a defenseman. Hey, that move worked out for Mike Liambas – and Rissling is a bit bigger of a bulldozer than Liambas.
What about the defense you say? Well, all were accounted for but there was never really any pairings to speak of. You get that a lot with Admirals practices but even more so when there are as many defensemen in a training camp like this right now. Things are static and it’s more down to individual looks and performance than forming a tandem. For what it’s worth, today was my first serious look at Kristian Näkyvä and I really loved what I saw from him. He can skate really well and has a nasty shot. If the goal is to emulate the parent club then that means having defensemen that are capable of stepping up and helping out on the rush. Näkyvä might possess that ability better than any current Admirals defenseman.
After practice came to a close I had the chance to speak with head coach Dean Evason. I also spoke with Fiala and Salomäki. While the audio clips by Fiala might come off as short one-word answers I wouldn’t take that as some sort of a slight from him to the media. My secondary language when I was his age was limited to asking where the library was so I’m used to European players such as him keeping things brief or to the point. Evason’s dialogue on him was far more telling than anything when it comes to Fiala’s situation of starting his season in the AHL. And that’s good enough for me. Here’s what everyone had to say after today’s opening practice in Milwaukee.
Dean Evason discusses Fiala starting his season in Milwaukee:
Evason describes Fiala’s attitude on the situation:
Evason on forgetting about last season and moving forward:
Evason talks about the organization-wide competition for spots:
Evason describes Juuse Saros:
Kevin Fiala’s initial reaction to the news he was cut from Nashville’s camp:
Fiala on what he was told to improve:
Fiala on the Filip Forsberg comparison:
Miikka Salomäki on rehabbing this summer and returning to the ice:
Salomäki talks about last season:
Salomäki on not being the lone Finn in Milwaukee this season:
Salomäki’s thoughts on fellow Finns Näkyvä, Saros, and Vainonen:
Salomäki talks about adopting Kamenev as an honorary Finn:
Dish out the ‘Secondary Assist’ to Dave Boehler who you heard asking questions to Fiala (Hashtag: Old Man Boehler Has A Flip Phone). For those who I was able to see and talk with at today’s practice: pleasure seeing you. I’ll be back Thursday for practice and for hopefully more player interviews.
UPDATE: As it turns out. Grumet-Morris and Payerl, as well as Andrew Yogan, Mike Ratchuk, and veteran forward David Moss, have all been signed by the Admirals to PTO contracts. You can read the full press release by the Milwaukee Admirals right here.