Struggling through the off-season blues? Well, fear not. Some news should be on the near horizon. This week features the NHL Awards on Wednesday with the 2016 NHL Draft taking place on Friday and Saturday. Plenty of interesting things to come from the next week or so. Will the Nashville Predators be making any trades at the NHL Draft? Where should the go with their first round selection, forward or defenseman? And what remaining restricted or unrestricted free agents get left out in the cold?
The last date to tender qualifying offers to RFA’s takes place on June 30th of next week. Currently that group includes: Petter Granberg, Cody Hodgson, Stefan Elliott, Garrett Noonan, and Gabriel Bourque. Your current unrestricted free agents are: Patrick Mullen, Jamie Devane, Eric Robinson, and Joe Pendenza. Who should be brought back and who should be allowed to walk?
~Rookie Development Camp~
Of note, I will be making my first trip to Nashville in a week’s time for the Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp. Exact details of when I’ll be arriving are up in the air for now but I want to be there for the first day of on-ice activities. I suspect I’d be on my way out either on or right after the Fourth of July fun (might be worth checking out those festivities in that setting).
The preliminary roster for the camp was unveiled last week. Members of the Milwaukee Admirals who played last season that will be participating are Juuse Saros, Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Kamenev, and Trevor Murphy. Incoming players due for a full-season in Milwaukee that will be around are: Jack Dougherty, Anthony Richard, Justin Kirkland, Alexandre Carrier, and Jonas Gunnarsson. There are also two players that were brought overseas that joined the Admirals late in the season, Janne Juvonen and Joonas Lyytinen, that aren’t currently under any sort of an NHL entry level or AHL contract at the moment. It’s interesting to see that Brandon Whitney isn’t involved yet Juvonen is. I’m not sure if there is anything to that but we’ll see once I get down there.
Announced last week were the official team names and logos for the new AHL affiliates of the Arizona Coyotes and Florida Panthers. The Springfield Falcons are no more as they will now be the Tucson Roadrunners. Thankfully fans in Springfield weren’t completely dumped, Portland Pirates, as their new AHL team courtesy of the Panthers will be the Springfield Thunderbirds.
I can’t say enough positive things about that Roadrunners logo. It’s fun. It’s paying homage to a previous iteration of Arizona based hockey (1967). Plus, their Twitter handle is replying to people with, “meep meep.” That’s a win. Also, as pointed out to me, it is also humerous to think that Roadrunners are trying to elevate themselves into being Coyotes. That organization needs to keep up with the Looney Tunes team names with an ECHL update to the Rapid City Rush… affiliation agreement pending that is.
As for the Thunderbirds. Don’t even get me started about how much I love that. The more Tracy Island and “F.A.B.” jokes the better, I say.
Of course, I suspect that another slight realignment is in order. My thought? Swap the Charlotte Checkers and former Springfield Falcons organization in terms of their Conference standing, relocate the Tucson Roadrunners to the Pacific Division so that those teams can play a full league schedule, and easy as you like – that’s it. Odds of that happening are probably slim. These are the same minds in suits that said the Pacific Division and points percentage make sense, after all.
~Former Admirals On The Move~
Italian League Champion Mark Van Guilder is leaving Ritten for Stavanger Oilers. Van Guilder’s new team competes in the top flight of Norway (GET-ligaen). Josh Shalla has signed for this year’s runners up for the ECHL Kelly Cup – the Wheeling Nailers. The odyssey, but all-around great guy, Charles-Olivier Roussel will be heading to France with Les Ducs d’Angers. The league Roussel will be competing in is Ligue Magnus which is the top flight of French professional hockey. Scott Valentine will be switching from one German club (Krefeld Pinguine) to another in the form of Augsburger Panther in their top flight (DEL). Mathieu Tousignant signed an extension to remain with Ravensburg Towerstars in Germany’s second flight.
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