Roundtable Mailbag

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

As you probably could have guessed. The Milwaukee Admirals had the day off this lovely Monday morning following three games in three days. The team swept the three-in-three weekend and are now on a four-game winning streak after that rough six-game losing skid. They will be back to practice tomorrow morning at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena ahead of their return clash against the San Antonio Rampage. The Admirals beat the Rampage 5-4 in overtime on Saturday night. The Rampage will be playing on the road against the Iowa Wild tonight.

With no practice in the cards, or games within the organization for that matter, I thought today would be a fun day to get a Mailbag brewing. You can submit questions to Admirals Roundtable via Facebook, Twitter, or right here in the Comments Section. We’ll be answering them right after the jump.

Who do you think has progressed the most this season?

This is actually a really difficult question. And I think if you asked Milwaukee Admirals fans this they might all give different answers. That shouldn’t be read as a negative, either. At Mid-Season my pick was Anthony Richard narrowly over Trevor Murphy because I was seeing such a nice well roundedness to Richard’s game and progression from rookie season into what is more commonly the difficult season – sophomore. As I keep chewing on it I feel Murphy’s evolution this season has been so good that it’s probably him.

In Murphy’s first two seasons he showed great flashes of offensive ability but they could often be lessened by some head scratching and game changing mistakes on defense. He’s just not made them this season. And it is a real shame that he is out with injury right now. He’s been great for the Admirals all year and -despite the now thickened glass ceiling of depth Nashville Predators defensemen- probably could have seen an NHL opportunity of not for that topside log jam for how well he was playing.

Do The 2 way guys, and the up and and , back and forth from NSH to MIL and back, screw with team chemistry?
~The Ultimate Predator

The easy answer: absolutely it does. No one wants to lose their best player. But, in the AHL, chemistry slowly gets formed with everyone no matter who is in the lineup. Goodness knows how often we’ve seen players randomly inserted to the fray on professional try-out (PTO) contracts and actually play good games because their approach alone is to keep things simple.

A perfect situation for how I view things is the end of last season. Pontus Åberg was the Milwaukee Admirals best player all season long. He scored 52 points (31 goals, 21 assists) in 56 games. The playoffs were looming. He probably could have ended the 2016-17 season as the AHL’s Top Goalscorer. But he was recalled by the Nashville Predators before their Stanley Cup Playoffs where he started out as an early Black Ace. The Admirals would go on to be swept out of the first round of the Calder Cup Playoffs for the third straight time and second straight time to the hated Grand Rapids Griffins. But, looking at the bigger picture, it is hard to fault anyone -especially Nashville- because look what Åberg would go on and do for them and the playoff run.

The Admirals at day’s end have a job to get players fine tuned and ready for the NHL stage. To win games in the AHL is certainly important. Winning the Calder Cup is a major goal and waypoint. The primary goal is to ultimately reach the NHL and play there. Yes, it might sting for an AHL fandom to be reminded of their place on the totem pole at times but Milwaukee gets to see its share of gems long before they make their proper splash in the NHL and do some big things within the AHL setting beforehand. It’s tricky -but- seeing players get called up is always a great sight. That’s the goal. And it puts the ball in someone else’s court to step up into the void that gets left when someone does go up.

How would Aberg and/or Salomaki fit on the Ads roster of the Predators acquire someone at the deadline?
~Coach Seth

Firstly, if the Nashville Predators did acquire somebody at the deadline I have a gut feeling one of those two might be involved – either that or their defensive surplus gets tapped into.

I think the likelyhood of either making it through waivers would be tricky to pull off at this point. Both are doing moderately well at the NHL level but most importantly haven’t necessarily shown the full range of their abilities on an NHL stage. A lesser team might be able to claim them and put them in better positions in a lineup to allow for them to do that and get the ball rolling.

Åberg probably should have been given a contract similar to Fred this season and I think it would have helped him a ton as far as attacking consistency for the Predators. Think Viktor Arvidsson in the 2015-16 season. He wasn’t quite who he was the seasons that followed then. He still needed to really process the NHL game, go back to the AHL and put some ideas and challenges into practice, and then combine that with his unbelievably relentless work ethic.

Miikka Salomäki isn’t that far off that same type of story. What has harshly altered his career trajectory at this stage was two seasons full of injuries. He was out for the season moments after making his outstanding NHL debut on the back of a fantastic rookie season for the Admirals and a good start as a sophomore. That was followed the next season by an almost unfair set of injuries that were really beyond his control in 2016-17. Salomäki has pretty much had to sink or swim at an NHL level his entire North American pro career outside of that debut 2013-14 season in the AHL. It’s not been easy.

Should anyone of those two make it to the Admirals on more than just a conditioning assignment basis? You’re looking at brand new spark plugs on an Admirals team that can use all the added firepower they can get. It’s just the state of the Central Division in the AHL this season and Western Conference. It’s a woodchipper right now. To get any of them come Calder Cup Playoffs? It would be a massive boost for a multitude of reasons based on their skills. They can literally play in any and all roles at an AHL level because they already have. Now they’re just far more experienced and polished.

Who has the better story Bobby Butler or PC Labrie?

Why, this question is right up Dave Kallmann‘s area! For those who didn’t read the Pierre-Cédric Labrie story from Kallmann – I couldn’t recommend it more (read here).

I say, this is a push. Both incredible human stories that I just love to see. Bobby Butler took a chance to play in the AHL with an aim to do extremely well and try to make it to the 2018 Winter Olympics and represent Team USA. There were no guarantees of that. And he made it. He’s there. Labrie, for has big of a bruiser as he is, might be one of the nicest people you could meet in the game and his journey back from Grand Rapids -with an assist from Griffins goaltender Tom McCollum who borrowed Labrie his truck- all to see his son Lionel come into the world. That’s like something out of a movie. They both kind of are – and I love both stories. It’s an all-around win.

With Nashville so stacked with talent and all defensemen under contract do you think NSH/MIL will be have trouble signing players because of the blocked path to the show?

On defense, perhaps. Though you can already look at this year’s Milwaukee Admirals and see the route that the Nashville Predators organization appear to be comfortable with moving forward. The Admirals oldest active defenseman this season is Petter Granberg at 25-years old followed by Jimmy Oligny at 24-years old. There are five defenseman at or below the age of 22 on the Admirals roster. They’re rolling out their prospects and letting them play.

Beyond defense? I don’t think Nashville doing as well as they are and creating as big of a national boom as they did in last year’s playoff run could be seen as some hindrance to signing talent at any level. You can view the Victor Ejdsell free agent signing as a perfect example of that because he was being fielded offers from plenty of other NHL teams but went with Nashville after seeing their playoff success. The way I see it is any player who simply wants the easier path to play in the NHL rather than earn that spot already shouldn’t be worth the time. Those that want to continue to this process and fight to climb the ladder? That’s kind of why the organization is where it is right now top to bottom.

I was wondering what your thoughts are on Petter Granberg and how he fits into the Predators organization. Do you see him as a career AHLer….or do you think he will be retained by the Predators? Do you think he would be better off on another NHL team,or maybe in Europe?

This season has probably been the best of Petter’s pro career. You have to go back and look at how he was acquired by the Predators in the first place to sort of appreciate this crazy journey he has been on.

Granberg was drafted by Toronto in 2010. Made the leap to North America in 2013-14 and logged the bulk of the next two seasons in the AHL. He was injured and his 2015 off-season was difficult but he was up with Toronto at the time and needed to go through waivers before he could get back into the swing of things off injury – Nashville claims him. He gets a brief conditioning assignment in Milwaukee. He then does the Brad Hunt act a year early. Infrequent Play = Infrequent Consistency. And, ultimately, he is a far cry from the prototypical Predators-style defenseman. Granberg is a big Viking of a stay-at-home type that seems to prefer staying in a contained space rather than join the rush. Yet, after clearing waivers to reach Milwaukee to start last season and maturing his game along the way, he is actually doing it all this season and also providing his strong gritty style of defense.

I do feel this will be Granberg’s last season within the organization. It’s no fault on him or the Predators. He’s worked hard in the time spent here. He just needs a slightly better fit or system of defense that can maximize his best attributes: strength and defending within his own zone. If it means heading back to Europe? That’s still not a bad thing. I’ve seen many European defenseman prospects make the leap and struggle with the AHL and go back (eg. Johan Alm and Kristian Näkyvä). In the case of Näkyvä I would say his brief spell in the AHL made him a better player for the European scene as a result of the faster closed in game that North America has – but it’s just not for everyone.

Coach Evason has thrown anything and everything at getting the power play going. Do you see a cure for the power play blues?

They scored a power-play goal last night, eh? I kid, I kid. But the truth is that the Admirals power-play is just in a down stretch. They aren’t poor by any means though. They have the seventh best power-play (18.4%) in the Western Conference. I’d just like to see the shorthanded goals against stop. Thankfully the Springfield Thunderbirds are friendly and tied the Admirals for the league lead in that respect at 11 SHGA.

Looking ahead, in the Mark McNeill Era, he can be a good boost. I also think Fred Allard and Joonas Lyytinen are starting to slowly get on song now that their roles are more defined and both can contribute to the power-play. Just like the results? When it’s good – it’s good. When it’s not – it’s not. The Admirals power-play can still be effective. Just working through personnel at the moment.

What are the chances of Kam playing Weds? Will the team do thank you videos on Weds and Saturday against the Stars?

He will be in attendance, like Saturday night, but he won’t play. Vladislav Kamenev is still a week or two away from returning to in-game action. That should start in the AHL with the San Antonio Rampage before hopefully going right back where he belongs – the Colorado Avalanche.

There shouldn’t be any “Thank You” or “Tribute” videos. Sadly, that’s just the way things go in the AHL I’m afraid. If we did those for every one player that comes and goes we’d be here as long as.. God Bless America from Sunday night.. I’ve used that twice today.. it deserves it.

Is it true there’s a petition for God Bless America to be played before the school day game March 7 against the Moose, so that two anthems and GBA will keep the kids out of school most of the day?

…these are the questions that keep me up at night.

Will these Nashville Themed Sweaters become next year’s alt?

There really isn’t an answer to that. I do feel the response, both in Milwaukee and Nashville, was extremely positive. Whether or not the Admirals would replace the current alternate in favor of a Nashville Predators themed uniform or go for an updated baby blue remains to be seen. It took the Admirals a good few years before they went with these Predators themed uniforms. I get the feeling it would have to have taken an overwhelming response for them to make a full switch for the third uniform next season. That’s something I can’t answer if it actually was.

I liked how we used Nashville’s goal horn and song when we scored. Any chance of that staying permanent?

That can be credit to our music guy at Admirals games, Sam Sirna (and slight editing touch-ups from me in WavePad pre-game). The musical additions and touches to make the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena in-game atmosphere a bit more like the Bridgestone Arena were used just for this past weekend with the “Salute to Nashville” theme.

If you have any further questions: please keep the conversation going! Ask questions in the Comment Section below and those questions will be added to the discussion above.

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