Roundtable Mailbag

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

Tuesday morning at 9:00 AM CST will mark Game 3 in the Pre-Season Rookie Tournament. That will conclude the rookie slate of the schedule before the main camp begins on Thursday. And, with the wait before Milwaukee Admirals Training Camp gets underway, it feels overdue for a proper Admirals Roundtable Mailbag. Feel free to continually ask questions and have them added and answered below the jump.

Who will likely make the preds opening night roster that will be missed the most? ~Derek

The second part of that question depends a lot on the first part, really. I would feel from last season to this season losing Pontus Åberg‘s production will hurt -but- he also earned that NHL one-way contract. Frédérick Gaudreau could make the Opening Night roster for the Nashville Predators with continued great form as he ended the season with. But, if Alex Carrier makes the Predators roster out of camp, that would hurt the Milwaukee Admirals early in the season. In my eyes he enters this season as the Admirals top defenseman. The Admirals do have depth to support themselves if he did earn a spot – but Carrier is on a different level for his all-around and consistent work.

What’s your fav game day meal ~Daniel

Coffee. I don’t think I really eat much until after a game to be honest. That’s why I do enjoy stopping around to places like Buck Bradley’s or Who’s On Third if I have the time to following a game. That or it means tackling fast food spots on Ryan Road before getting back home.

Are you going to follow the team out West in March for their California road trip? Also have the Ads played in Cali before? ~Tom

Nope. I don’t travel with the team at all. I have to travel out of my pocket. That means typically making Rockford my only real destination to drive down and drive back in a day’s trip for an Admirals road game. And, yes, the Admirals have played numerous teams in California since the introduction of the Pacific Division in the 2015-16 season: Bakersfield Condors, San Diego Gulls, San Jose Barracuda, and the Stockton Heat. This season marks the “why, hello there” of the Ontario Reign who will be accompanied by the Heat and Gulls in 2017-18.

Can you take a crack at how the lines might look? ~Josh

Oh, golly. Welp. The good news is there is at least enough semblance of the NHL/AHL rosters where I can make up my “Wish List” roster for Opening Night. This will include some hopeful guesses of guys floating or sticking to Milwaukee -but- it’s still a shot in the dark on my part.

Kirkland-Kamenev-Trenin
Moy-Smith-Butler
Richard-Petterson-Kelleher
Labrie-Army-Bass

Oligny-Carrier
O’Brien-Dougherty
Murphy-Allard

Paterson
(O’Connor)

Now, loads of factors there. Is Jimmy Oligny going to be healthy enough to get going after he, similar to Ryan Ellis, had knee surgery at season’s end. He should be further ahead for a return because his happened prior to the playoffs starting for Milwaukee – but if he isn’t ready to go it will mean seeing Petter Granberg or Rick Pinkston. Nashville folks reading this wondering why I’d leave Granberg off? I prefer Andrew O’Brien‘s speed and decision making on the ice. Plus, his partnership with Jack Dougherty is really balanced. I would love Gaudreau to start in Milwaukee – but I don’t think that actually happens. So, I’d keep Derek Army in as the 4-C. I expect Gaudreau to trickle back to Milwaukee at some point – either out of depth in Nashville or to simply get him a consistent run of games. But, out the gate, he should be in Nashville.

Do you think that there’s a possibility of a bug trade this season? If so who may be involved? ~Jamie

If the right insects are on the table! (*big trade) It depends completely on the Nashville Predators form in the first half of the season. Matt Duchene is a name that continually gets brought up but, if his asking price is high enough that he is -still- a member of the Colorado Avalanche, he isn’t worth it. The Predators have good squad depth right now. Should the right move for the right price be available to see them put over the top? Sure, perhaps go for it – but it isn’t totally necessary. The Predators are built for the present and the future. To make a big trade could mean trading future assets and shrinking a Stanley Cup window. It needs to be the right trade for them to do anything.

How many Admirals players have seen A Bug’s Life? ~Steve

Hopefully many! You can’t really go wrong with Pixar.

The goaltender situation: Do you think lindback will become the go to guy or will the ads end up with more of a saros/maz type look in net? ~Brett

I genuinely don’t know how this year’s goaltending situation will play out. Just because Anders Lindbäck is the most experienced doesn’t mean he’s the best. Last season for him said enough of exactly that. He didn’t have an NHL contract. He didn’t get an AHL contract. He started on a professional try-out (PTO) contract with the Ontario Reign in the AHL before getting cut after four-games and jettisoned to Sweden with Rögle BK where he was decent – but it’s the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) – he should be better than average. Matt O’Connor to me has plenty of potential still and can greatly benefit from being on a better AHL team. The same can be said of Jake Paterson who was in developmental hell in the Detroit Red Wings organization. Paterson never was given a chance to grow or tackle the AHL. I actually feel Paterson might be the best in the group but O’Connor could become the more reliable option throughout the season. This battle for starting goaltender in Milwaukee will be continuous all season long though. I don’t see it like last season when Marek Mazanec held the fort. These guys will be cycling until something sticks. I’d imagine Nashville would hope Lindbäck re-establishes himself though. Keep in mind, if Pekka Rinne or Juuse Saros run into any sort of injury trouble this season, someone needs to contribute so much as a reliable seat as the third choice option for the Predators. Right now? I wouldn’t gift that to Lindbäck.

Who do you think will get the #1 goalie spot this year? Or will it be a tandem scenario like a Juicy/Maz deal? ~Larry

I kind of rambled about this last question. It’s certainly set to start as a tandem depending on who the two will be that start the campaign off in Milwaukee. It won’t be until someone really distances them self as superior or most reliable that you could see them confidently trotted out for consecutive games at a clip. It reminds me of the season Scott Darling was in and there were some injuries along the way. It’s going to come down to confidence in selection, really. Who earns the trust of the coaching staff and team first and can they sustain that trust? It’s an unanswered question right now and will be for months into the season I feel.

What new player will have the most impact and who is set for a breakout year? ~Stan

I have a feeling Tyler Moy is going to shine in his first professional playing season. He looked good on arrival from Harvard late last season and that’s a great sign of his composure and maturity. Moy has so many tools that can make him a threat: intelligence, vision, speed, good hands, skill, and a quality shot. We perhaps didn’t see enough on the defensive side of the puck for him in Milwaukee last season to say he’s well-rounded or mistake free – but he never did anything that made you think he’s going to cost you a goal or a game either. I’m excited to see what he can do. If he gets to play a more natural center position or back on the wing where he was introduced. But, if anyone is looking to account for some of that Åberg or Gaudreau production from a season ago, Moy might elevate into that discussion.

Do you think Kamenev has it in him to make the leap to the NHL this year? And if so does he have the skill level to kick Bonino out of 2C? ~Gar

I certainly feel Vladislav Kamenev has it in him to get a few games up in 2017-18. He should be leaned on heavily in Milwaukee as the top center this season. Him getting extended NHL time depends on how he continues to evolve and how those topside for Nashville perform. That will dictate him being the workhorse in Milwaukee versus lower-line option for Nashville. I wouldn’t elevate him past 4-C at all. He shouldn’t be expected to provide more than the likes of Nick Bonino, Calle Järnkrok, or Colton Sissons. If he really was this wouldn’t be a question. I do think he did great in his first year, 2015-16, adjusting to all the new surroundings, different style game, etc. And the sophomore season can be more difficult given he wasn’t a mystery man anymore – and he did far better. He turned 21-years old a month ago. He’s en route to becoming a solid NHL talent. Patience with him and allowing him to keep taking these big leaps in the AHL will make him that much stronger once he gets his NHL opportunities.

What do you do on the off season to fufill your hockey needs? ~WAHLBANGER

Lots of reading, video watching, and scouting on guys who are joining the organization. It helps to get a better sense for how some look before, tendencies, and how they’re growing from one stage to the next. Example, whenever Victor Ejdsell shows up in Milwaukee I’m hoping he will have grown into that lanky 6’5″ or taller frame of his a little bit more and that will help his work on skating angles and adapting his size to for a more physical game in North America. He could be a lot of fun if he puts it all together. He’d never be a speedster or anything but the size and strength aspects for him could make him hard to handle on the wing.

Which Ads prospects do you envision making a lasting impact in Nashville this season? Who doesn’t break the ceiling this year? ~Bill

Åberg, Gaudreau, Carrier, and Kamenev all have the chance this season to do that. Even Saros shouldn’t be swiftly dismissed from the ranks of prospects, either. He’s in prime position to take further stride forward to move into that successor role. He really has done all he can do in the AHL. His AHL numbers are ridiculous: 42 wins from 53 starts with a  2.13 goals against average, 0.924 save percentage, and 5 shutouts. Now he can build from last season while knowing the Predators are fully committed to him being in the NHL. Åberg more than anyone though is being afforded the chance to step up. He’s on a one-way contract and he has been the best player for the Milwaukee Admirals for about one and a half seasons now. I feel he can continue performing as he did in Milwaukee in Nashville.

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