When looking back on the Nashville Predators 2016 NHL Draft it was clear that they were looking to reinvest into their defensive nucleus and broaden the depth at defense. Dante Fabbro was selected by the Predators with the seventeenth pick in the first round. Samuel Girard would be taken in the second round. And, from the third round to the end, the Predators would draft a further three defensemen.
In that mix would be defenseman Fred Allard who was the second of two draft picks for the Predators in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft. He had just finished his third season with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) which was a then career best: 59 points (14 goals, 45 assists) in 64 games. That would be bestest the very next season including a playoff run with Chicoutimi that was so good that he missed the opportunity to make his pro debut as a member of the Milwaukee Admirals at season’s end that would have saw him potentially link up with fellow Québécois defenseman Girard. He found his way to Milwaukee to start his professional career with the 2017-18 season. And he’s starting to make bigger splashes as a 20-year old AHL rookie.
Allard’s path into hockey started with some experience that had his father wondering if that was enough. He wasn’t the greatest of skaters as a kid and keeping up with his brothers was a tough ask. His father and grandfather were players and it wouldn’t be that long before Allard’s skating wasn’t an issue. He found his way and would end up playing hockey with the Séminaire St-François Blizzard of the Ligue de hockey Midget AAA du Québec (QMAAA) where he racked up 22 points (3 goals, 19 assists) in 42 games as a 15-year old defenseman. The kid that struggled to skate early on would get selected eighteenth overall in the 2013 QMJHL Entry Draft by the Chicoutimi Saguenéens where he would play a masterful four-seasons.
As a member of Chicoutimi Allard wasted little time in making a splash for himself as a highly creative and attacking minded defenseman. He produced 23 points (4 goals, 19 assists) in 61 games during his debut 2013-14 season in the QMJHL. That assist total ranked him tied for third among rookie defensemen in the league. And he would continually progress further and further both on and off the ice. From 2015-17 he wore an “A” on the front of his Saguenéens uniform as an alternate captain.
What Allard has walked into for his first professional playing season is a rather unusual playing atmosphere with the Milwaukee Admirals that hasn’t happened often in recent memory. The defensive core of the Admirals is incredibly young with the veterans of the group being Petter Granberg (25-years old) and Jimmy Oligny (24-years old). The depth was such that at the start of the season playing time in the AHL really wasn’t afforded to be there for either Allard or Joonas Lyytinen. Both of the Admirals rookie defensemen would cycle down to the ECHL but trips to the Norfolk Admirals would disappear following the ECHL Affiliation Agreement being terminated by the Nashville Predators. Allard had played 3 games for Norfolk at the start of the 2017-18 season. He would continue on at the AHL level and see some infrequent starts while also being healthy scratched as the defensemen were juggled around for the Admirals.
Things have started to feel more and more cemented for the Admirals defense. Both Allard and Lyytinen have started to see some quality playing time at the AHL level and are starting to show great progress. It was such that the two worked their way up the pecking order and made a trade of Andrew O’Brien possible while also acquiring forward Mark McNeill and establishing more defined roles for defensemen in Milwaukee.
Allard at this point in the season has now played 38 games with the Admirals in the AHL while also producing 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists). He also has started establishing himself on the Admirals power-play group having tallied 3 assists working the point. The longer this season has gone on, the more that he has learned, the better Allard has become. It’s worth not forgetting that when this season started he was only 19-years old and thrown into a rather odd start to the season as far as playing time and where he could actually play with or without an ECHL outlet as an option. He’s been forced to adapt, learn, and grow. That is just about the best thing you could see a prospect take-on in that first pro season and Allard is taking the right steps.
As always, a huge thank you to Fred Allard for giving us the time to chat and get to know him better. Next on tap for Fifteen we will have Joonas Lyytinen and Mark Zengerle. There isn’t quite a set date on when those will be published but it would be great to get them out and about while the Milwaukee Admirals road trip continues. Do stay tuned and do keep suggesting who you would like to hear from next!
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