The Then & Now Report

(Photo Credit: Tomi Hänninen)
Smile! Because Joonas Rask and Juuso Puustinen became best friends at HIFK in their native Finland. (Photo Credit: Tomi Hänninen)
It’s that ever so lovely time of the year where we stop to take a look at what some of our former Milwaukee Admirals are up to right now. Specifically, we’ll be looking in on some of those who helped to contribute to the highly successful 2015-16 season to find out if they’re continuing to do well. We’ll also scan over some other names from the past few seasons.

Johan Alm: After two unfortunately injury plagued seasons with the Admirals Alm returned back to his hometown team, Skellefteå AIK. He is already approaching the points total that he had when he last played for Skellefteå AIK but -almost as importantly- is approaching the games played total from a season ago.

Taylor Aronson: After ditching the Admirals after they clinched to Central Division title to go home and skip the playoffs ahead of his Russian deal be signed he ended up signing with HC Lada. That’s the condensed version. If you feel like you having punched enough walls lately, Odell Beckham Jr., you can read the full story here. As much as this could be a point and laugh situation – I feel pretty bad for Aronson right now. He has had a really rough go of things in the KHL: 13 points (1 goal, 12 assists) in 39 games with a plus/minus rating of -10 and 24 penalty minutes. He is currently out of action with a concussion which is something that has plagued him previously.

Daniel Bång: The last man to wear #50 before Vladislav Kamenev was forced to wear it for the Nashville Predators was Bång. Ever since leaving the Predators organization he has played for Lausanne HC in National League A (NLA) based in Switzerland. Unfortunately, it appears that concussions have derailed his career the past two seasons. He hasn’t played a game in the 2016-17 season.

Zach Budish: What slowed down Budish out of his college career was injuries. His last two seasons in the organization he was finally fully fit and you could tell that his play benefited from it. He’s since joined Mikkelin Jukurit in Finland’s top flight Liiga where he has been putting together a really nice season for himself: 22 points (8 goals, 14 assists) in 37 games with a plus/minus rating of -2 and 22 penalty minutes.

Patrick Cehlin: Much like Alm, Cehlin’s time in the organization wasn’t all that it could have been due to unfortunate injuries that weighed him down. He also returned back to his native Sweden and last season, with Rögle BK, he did phenomenally: 36 points (20 goals, 16 assists) in 52 games. Unfortunately, his follow up season for the club has hit a snag with injury sidelining him once again. The 25-year old does still have 9 points (6 goals, 3 assists) in 17 games this season.

Stefan Elliott: Currently, the Nashville Predators do still have Elliott’s NHL rights because they did tender him an offer before he cut loose for the European scene. He ended up joining Ak Bars Kazan in Russia’s KHL and has produced 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) in 25 games with a plus/minus rating of +1 and 12 penalty minutes.

Triston Grant: The ol’ workhorse is still scrapping it out around the North American pro scene. This season Grant signed up to play for the Wichita Thunder in the ECHL but found himself quickly traded to the Rapid City Rush. He has logged a single AHL game this season as a member of the Binghamton Senators on a PTO Contract.

Magnus Hellberg: Still popular among Admirals fans, Hellberg continues to be the go-to option in net for the New York Rangers’ AHL affiliate the Hartford Wolf Pack. This season he has a record of 9-9-3-1 in net from 24 games with a 3.00 goals against average and 0.902 save percentage. He has still only ever logged a single NHL appearance since leaving the Predators organization, coming in relief, in a game that was a disaster for the Rangers. He has yet to ever start a game in the NHL. This is the last season he is under contract to the Rangers.

Kevin Henderson: This season has slightly mirrored the last one for Henderson. It’s a dip of the toe in the ECHL and fly to Europe. He went from the Quad City Mallards (ECHL) to SaiPa (Liiga). He joined the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL) to start this season but, after 4 games, saw himself in Slovakia playing for HK SKP Poprad. So far, he’s actually done well for the club: 14 points (5 goals, 9 assists) in 20 games with a plus/minus rating of +7 and 14 penalty minutes.

Cody Hodgson: This is yet another sad story. Hodgson joined the Nashville Predators last season and, while it didn’t work out well, continued to conduct himself as a solid pro and teammate at the AHL level with the Milwaukee Admirals. However, back spasms had been weighing him down very badly and his season came to a close at the start of March 2016. He left to get his back spasms further evaluated and decided to retire from the game this off-season.

Joonas Järvinen: Before there was Arvi – there was Järvi. Last season the big Finn had a career year with HIFK in his native Finland: 18 points (2 goals, 16 assists) in 49 games with a plus/minus rating of +19 and 73 penalty minutes. That work came paired with two fellow former Admirals that are coming up later on this list, Puustinen and Rask. Despite the great success at home in Finland Järvinen opted to give Russia’s KHL a second try after a miserable first effort in the 2014-15 season with HC Sochi. He has played for Kunlun Red Star this season and is doing well enough – just not as well as a season ago.

Mike Moore: The former Admirals captain (2012-13 season) currently finds himself playing in Europe for the first time in his career. The 32-year old defenseman plays for Fischtown Pinguins in Germany’s DEL. He has 8 points (2 goals, 6 assists) in 29 games with a plus/minus rating of -8 and 79 penalty minutes.

Simon Moser: Our former Olympic hero has continued on at SC Bern in his native Switzerland since leaving the Nashville Predators organization. These last two years have been really productive for the 27-year old: 57 points (25 goals, 32 assists) in 85 games.

Steve Moses: This situation didn’t work at all a season ago. In fact, it is starting to feel like Moses’ 2014-15 season might just be something he never approaches ever again: 57 points (36 goals, 21 assists) in 60 games. That put him on the map and the Nashville Predators radar. He didn’t stick with the Predators and, after a brief while with the Admirals, was placed on unconditional waivers before returning to Russia’s KHL – this time with SKA St. Petersburg. From 2015-16 to 2016-17 to date, Moses has scored 33 points (15 goals, 18 assists) from 59 games.

Patrick Mullen: The 30-year old defenseman made his journey to the European scene for the first time this season and did so by landing in Russia’s KHL. He plays for Dinamo Riga this season and has scored 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) in 39 games with a plus/minus rating of -12 and 26 penalty minutes. He did score an astonishingly good goal that is well worth watching.

Garrett Noonan: It didn’t seem like Noonan was ever given the greatest of opportunities to make it up to an AHL role for the Admirals. Unfortunately, that chance could have been welcoming to him this season – he just wasn’t brought back by the Predators. In the off-season, Noonan was given a look with the New York Rangers organization and has since been bumping around their minor league affiliates: Greenville Swamp Rabbits (ECHL) and Hartford Wolf Pack (AHL). The bulk of his season has been spent at the ECHL level and that plus/minus rating of -14 in 19 games has me thinking David Poile might have been on to something.

Kristian Näkyvä: It was a difficult adjustment last season for the Finn to adapt from the European game to North America’s faster paced scramble. In the end, it was a one and one. The 26-year old is back in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and plays for Linköping HC. He has 16 points (5 goals, 11 assists) in 32 games with a plus/minus rating of -7 and 22 penalty minutes.

Joe Pendenza: We’ve already had the chance to see ol’ Joe as a member of the Cleveland Monsters this season. He tried giving the Albany Devils a go ahead of this season but ended up moving towards the Manchester Monarchs (ECHL) and has nearly completed the entirety of his PTO Contract to stay with the Monsters in the AHL. They can give him one more PTO Contract before having to sign him to a standard contract. Should he stay up with the Monsters for the rest of the season that scenario will have to play out.

Joe Piskula: After a season spent with the San Diego Gulls in which he didn’t get a look up with the NHL – Good Guy Joe from Antigo took the trek to Europe. It is the first time he has journeyed to the European pro game and he has settled in very well with Leksands IF in Sweden. His numbers almost completely mirror his summary from a season ago with the Gulls in the AHL.

Corey Potter: The Nashville Predators really hoped to keep the veteran defenseman around past last season after how well he performed. Unfortunately for both the Predators and Admirals the 33-year old wanted to explore the hockey world in Europe. He signed for Kölner Haie in Germany’s DEL and has really done a great job: 14 points (3 goals, 11 assists) in 35 games with a plus/minus rating of +15 and 52 penalty minutes. He happens to be joined at the club with an Admirals teammate from a season ago due up in two players on this list.

Juuso Puustinen: Always one of my favorites when I watched as a fan, Puustinen’s time playing back at home with HIFK in Finland has been going real well the last three seasons. Unfortunately, it seems he has hit a rough patch for himself this season. His production has dropped to just 11 points (2 goals, 9 assists) in 29 games.

Joonas Rask: It hasn’t been the easiest of season’s for Puustinen’s teammate at HIFK, Rask, either. This season he has only played in 10 games after logging 40+ games the past two seasons at HIFK. He’ll be hard pressed to approach double-digit goals and assists as he has the previous two campaigns.

Max Reinhart: Remember how I said Potter had a friend at German club Kölner Haie? It’s Max! That’s right, there are two European clubs that we can all support because they have Admirals duos on them right now. Reinhart’s contributions in his first DEL season has seen him produce 16 points (4 goals, 12 assists) in 35 games with a plus/minus rating of +1 and 24 penalty minutes.

Charles-Olivier Roussel: If I ever had the ability to make a hockey movie I think it would be fascinating to center the story around Roussel. He won a QMJHL title in juniors, was drafted in the 2nd Round (42nd Overall) by the Nashville Predators in the 2009 NHL Draft, battled up and down between the AHL and ECHL with the Milwaukee Admirals and Cincinnati Cyclones, had a 2014-15 season that saw him bounce between the Utah Grizzlies to the Greenville Road Warriors in an ECHL trade before finishing the season off winning the LNAH championship with the Thetford Mines Isothermic. He has since played for the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL) and HC Banska Bystrica (Slovakia) a season ago. He then tried playing for Ducs d’Angers in France before going back to Thetford briefly. He has since decided to retire from pro hockey and I know that he will continue to be a really good guy.

Vinny Saponari: The Mayor of Toe-Drag City has taken his talents to Europe. He now plays for Frisk Asker in Norway and has been putting together a good season: 31 points (9 goals, 22 assists) in 29 games with a plus/minus rating of -2 and 6 penalty minutes.

Mathieu Tousignant: While most names on this list go to more elite level pro leagues in Europe the next two are slightly different stories. Tousignant left the AHL scene after the 2014-15 season and opted to sign for Ravensburg Towerstars who are based out of the second tier of Germany’s pro hockey scene, DEL 2. They were not promoted last year and he remains there this season. That said, he has been amazing for that team: 84 points (35 goals, 49 assists) in 72 games the last two seasons.

Mark Van Guilder: Somewhat similar to Tousi, I was surprised to see someone of Van Guilder’s ability go the route that he did last season. He signed for Ritten Sport in Italy. As odd as that sounds – he did damage and won their championship in the process: 57 points (18 goals, 39 assists) in 42 games. This season MVG finds himself in a higher profile league in Norway with the Stavanger Oilers where he might be doing an even better job that last year: 46 points (17 goals, 29 assists) in 32 games. He is the leading scorer in the Norwegian league right now. Since leaving North America after the 2014-15 season he is a 1.39 point per game player across Italy and Norway.

Brandon Whitney: Last season, Whitney briefly filled a bench role on a few occassions but struggled for the Cincinnati Cyclones in the ECHL. He wasn’t at Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp. He wasn’t at Milwaukee Admirals Training Camp ahead of the 2016-17 season. And he wasn’t at the Cyclones Pre-Season Camp, either. He was put back on the news beat when he was part of the trade that brought Adam Pardy in earlier this season. He hasn’t shown up for the Springfield Falcons (AHL) or Manchester Monarchs (ECHL). I legitimately have no idea where he is or if he has retired.

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One thought on “The Then & Now Report”

  1. Ha ha, the comment about Whitney is great! He really was bad.

    I was looking at Hellberg’s stats a few days ago. Ouch. I’m pretty sure he won’t be in the Rangers organization next year. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if he ended up with only an AHL contract or went to Europe as well.

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