Admiral of the Month: October

(Photo Credit: Shane Abbitt)

The Milwaukee Admirals finished up their slate of seven-games for the month of October. They ended with a record of 5-2-0-0 (10 points, 0.714 points percentage) and are sitting behind only the Rockford IceHogs (0.778) in the Central Division. That’s only thanks to the IceHogs playing, and winning, two further games in October than the Admirals. Though, given the early back and forths between those two, I get a feeling that we could be hearing about that divisional battle until the end of the regular season.

This start for the Admirals has been really impressive. I had a feeling based on Training Camp that this year’s group was a special one. Still, to get things to gel as quickly as they have, it’s a rather impressive feat. As a team, the Admirals are operating really well and their AHL best penalty kill (93.1%) stands out as an example of how well everyone has clicked. Individually, there are many great performers right out of the gate. Which makes this choice a difficult one -but- one that I feel is deserved. The Real Estate Center‘s Admiral of the Month Award for October belongs to Emil Pettersson.

The Admiral of the Month for October was really a three horse race. Anders Lindbäck was brilliant in net. Tyler Kelleher has been working his butt off and scoring goals. Though, Pettersson has 3 assists from Kelleher’s 5 goals. Pettersson. In fact, Pettersson has more primary assists (4) than he does goals scored (3). He’s become such a deceptive player that doesn’t necessarily do anything too flashy but nightly provides quality attacking and defending prowess from the center position. At the end of October the 23-year old Swede leads the Admirals in scoring with 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) in 7 games. He’s done it across the board, as well. He’s a first choice option for the Admirals power-play group and has been active on the penalty kill. His first North American pro goal came off of a dazzling toe-drag on the road against the Iowa Wild – while working the penalty kill alongside Harry Zolnierczyk. Pettersson plays the game incredibly smart, poised, and as though he’s been around the NHL/AHL game before. He hasn’t – but he is just getting started in his career development with the Nashville Predators organization.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

I wonder at times, with prospects such as Pettersson, about the harms or benefits of coming over from Europe too soon or too late. Pettersson is a slight curveball from what we’re perhaps used to in Milwaukee as he was drafted by Nashville back at the 2013 NHL Draft. For comparision’s sake, that draft class for the Predators saw the likes of Félix Girard and Jonathan Diaby in 2014-15 and Juuse Saros the following season. It took an extended amount of time before that entry-level contract was offered and signed by Pettersson. Such an amount of time that Girard was traded out of the organization after 172 games played in the AHL with Milwaukee while Diaby has retired from the sport. So, what happened in that gap for Pettersson? He played. He played -a lot- of professional hockey in his native Sweden whilst competing in the the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) and the second tier of Sweden known as the Allsvenskan. In total, Pettersson played 203 games between the top two tiers of Sweden’s professional ranks while producing 114 points (46 goals, 68 assists). Is it the AHL? No. Is he developing under the extremely watchful eye of Predators (NHL) or Admirals (AHL) coaching staffs while receiving instructions to progress him further along for a future North American professional playing career? No, not really. But he forged his own way, logged lots of time playing in a competitive and professional environment, and took his own steps forward -and polished his game up- before ever suiting up within the Predators organization. Did he arrive too late? That is a question that doesn’t matter much if he continued to work as well and as hard as he has for the Admirals this quickly into his debut season.

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

So, yes both Lindbäck and Kelleher deserve a serious Admirable Mention here. Lindbäck only just suffered his first loss of the season last time out when the Admirals lost 2-1 on the road against the Chicago Wolves. I’m not even sure I can blame him for a single of the goals he allowed in that game – those shots were lasers. Lindbäck is 5-1-0-0 from 6 starts with a 2.34 goals against average and 0.909 save percentage. While the numbers might not necessarily look sparkling – his play has routinely kept the Admirals either afloat or within reach of victories. His record speaks to the success rate of how well he’s kept his team in games. Kelleher went on a run of scoring 5 goals in the Admirals opening 5 games. As it stands, he is a point-per-game player for the Admirals. It isn’t even so much the scoring that impresses me as much as it has been his work rate shift-after-shift. He brings it and, despite being 5’6″ out there on the ice, it doesn’t stop him from the physical aspects of the game and digging around the front of the net. He has been terrific from Rookie Development Camp in Nashville this Summer all the way on into the 2017-18 season. His chemistry formed with Pettersson only makes the two that much more lethal.. not to mention, Zolnierczyk is right there with them.

~Admiral of the Month Award~

October: Emil Pettersson

Who do you feel was the top performer for the Milwaukee Admirals during the month of October? Was it Emil Pettersson, Tyler Kelleher, Anders Lindbäck, or someone else? Tell me who your Admiral of the Month was in the comment section below.

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