Admiral of the Month: November

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)
(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

Happy Monday, everyone. I know this is a monthly award and the month isn’t over yet but it is as far as games for the Milwaukee Admirals are concerned. They played ten games during this month, went to overtime in seven of those games, required a shootout from two of -those-games, and wound up never losing a single game in regulation for a 8-0-1-1 record.

It has to be said then that this isn’t the easiest task to select a solitary figure from the Admirals this month. The entire group was what worked so well. All games played in November were high character games with solid team performances being the shining element on a nightly basis. It is this character that is seeing them -as of today- holding to the top record in the AHL based on points percentage: 12-2-2-1 (27 points, 0.794 points percentage).

Our choice for Admiral of the Month could therefore go to darn near anyone, really. But that just would be too easy. I feel I’ve narrowed it down to three choices: Alex Carrier, Juuse Saros, and Matt White. It speaks volumes to me that the top three candidates just so happen to all come from the different positions on the ice: forward, defenseman, and goaltender. These three all did such a stellar job. So let’s talk about all three because at the very least the two odd men out deserve the Admirable Mention.

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)
(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

Carrier’s first pro season to this point has been a remarkable one, already. As of today he is currently the second highest scoring rookie defenseman in the AHL behind Kyle Wood of the Tucson Roadrunners. But, comparing the two, Carrier game isn’t all about his 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists) of offense but it is also his defensive effort that complements it. Carrier has a plus/minus rating of +10 which is +9 up on Tucson’s Wood. It’s really been Carrier’s instant chemistry with veteran defenseman Adam Pardy that seems to have seen him take an even further step out of the blocks. Since Pardy’s arrival via trade from the Springfield Falcons on 10/24/16 the two have basically been attached at the hip in-game. Carrier only had an assist prior to Pardy’s arrival. Carrier has since shot out of a cannon and displayed great two-way ability.

(Photo Credit: John Saraya)
(Photo Credit: John Saraya)

I’m beginning to run out of superlatives when it comes to Saros. So, here it goes. The month of November saw Saros start in net for five of the Admirals ten games. He did this with some here-and-there call ups to the Nashville Predators as Marek Mazanec floated down-up-and-down. How did he do in those starts for the Admirals? He won all of them and had a 1.37 goals against average, 0.954 save percentage, and earned a shutout in his return to the team after an eleven day long layoff between in-game appearances in a 1-0 win on the road against the Cleveland Monsters. Saros is the top goalie in the AHL right now by way of wins (9), goals against average (1.59), and save percentage (0.945). Saros is 21-years old and only in the beginning stage of his North American development. This is him while he is learning. He is a truly special prospect.

(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)
(Photo Credit: Stephanie Moebius)

I’m not all that sure who was responsible for healthy scratching White from the first three games of the Admirals season but I do know they are going to be hard pressed into doing it ever again. White’s performance this entire season since finally getting to game action has actually made me wonder just what on Earth took the rest of the AHL so long to give him his due. White played 158 games in the ECHL over the course of three-seasons until the Admirals brought him on-board as a PTO signing a season ago. He did so well so fast that he ended up signing a two-year contract with the Admirals in a shade under two months. They knew they had something. And White responded. Last season White scored 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 54 games with the Admirals. Not bad for a guy who originally showed up on PTO basis, right? This season White already has 15 points (7 goals, 8 assist) in 14 games. He is yet another one of these high energy, high work rate, never takes a shift off and works all three-zones well types of players that have come through the organization in recent years despite flying under the radar. His surge this season, all be it purely on left wing, reminds me a ton of how well Frédérick Gaudreau played. Look where Gaudreau was this time last season and now look where he is today. White’s month of November saw him score a point in every game but two yet he still put a clip up of 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 10 games. He has been operating on such an extremely high level and is yet another reminder of what solid depth the Admirals have in its locker room right now.

So, who deserves it the most? This is as agonizingly close of a call as I’ve had to make but time after time I’ve given this player praise throughout the month of November and it is hard for me to not cement that here. Admirals Roundtable’s Admiral of the Month for November is Alex Carrier.

(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)
(Photo Credit: Sara Stathas)

I’ve said time after time that Carrier doesn’t look or play like a first-year pro. I’ve also been caught out on a number of times mesmerized watching Carrier’s work rate which I’m just not used to seeing so often from a defenseman in Milwaukee – but I am used to seeing it from several defensemen in Nashville. His skating ability allows for him to really cruise around the ice and act almost as a fourth forward at times. I know Nashville enjoys seeing defensemen be active and really pinch but Carrier can take that a step further and wire around the net at times on the puck and keep creating offensively all while having an active presence of his defensive responsibilities, He plays at a high pace but also with a very calm approach. He doesn’t look flustered at all. And I feel, as far as his development is concerned, he is benefiting all the more by his partnership with Pardy. He looked great when I saw him this Summer at Nashville’s Rookie Development Camp. He looked good early here in Milwaukee. And now he’s looking stunning with every passing game that he seems to get under his belt.

~Admiral of the Month Award~

October: Juuse Saros
November: Alex Carrier

Who do you feel was the top performer for the Milwaukee Admirals during the month of November? Was it Carrier, Saros, White or someone else? Tell me who your Admiral of the Month was in the comment section below.

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