This is the Admirals Roundtable Award that I have been chewing on for the past week. According to the AHL, to be considered an AHL Rookie, a player must not have played a total 100 regular season games in any European Elite League. So, as much as I want to consider Emil Pettersson in his first professional playing season in North America as him being an AHL Rookie, I can’t.
That means looking elsewhere to the debutant 2017-18 class. By the time the season was coming to a close I felt one started to really remind all in Milwaukee how much he grew in his first pro season. Admirals Roundtable’s 2017-18 Rookie of the Year Award belongs to defenseman Frédéric Allard.
Things did not start out easily for Allard in his first professional season. The numbers game on defense was such that both himself and fellow first-year pro Joonas Lyytinen were the odd men out and required some ECHL time to begin 2017-18. And then the Nashville Predators terminated their ECHL Affiliation Agreement with the Norfolk Admirals. That only left them in limbo that little bit further as being considered a “healthy scratch” was happening a bit often at the start of the campaign.
Luckily for Allard, he made his minutes with the Admirals -early in the season- count and was making it more and more difficult to sit him out. The natural ability he has on offense, thanks to his skating, was evident and showing up in crucial times down the stretch. As I noted earlier this month – he was becoming Mr. Clutch:
Allard has eight goals this season. If you discount his fifth goal of the season, which was a game-winning goal scored back on 3/2/18, he has scored seven goals with an average time to the goal scored before it or to the start of a period prior to it of 1:35.71. He has scored following a goal or the start of a period inside the span of two minutes on six of his last eight goals. He has become Mr. Clutch. And, heck, yesterday’s goal was the second consecutive goal he has scored this month that followed an opposition’s goal at the tune of 1:23 of ice time (4/3/18). That’s crazy.
What does that say about Allard? I’d say it says the exact same thing as it does the way in which he handled the early season adversity of AHL/ECHL confusion and a lack of a consistent role. This is an incredibly mature, grounded, patient, collected, and confident person – not just player. It could have been easy to get frustrated and then, when opportunity comes, get caught out trying to do too much too often. He really didn’t show much of that. And, by season’s end, he looked every bit the part.
Where things opened up for Allard the most I think came from Andrew O’Brien and Trevor Murphy eventually getting traded away. There was a far greater chance of making it into the lineup and then high level opportunities (e.g. special teams) where he could factor in. Allard ended the 2017-18 season as the Admirals leading rookie scorer with 24 points (8 goals, 16 assists) from 55 games. He did not record a power-play goal but did have 5 assists while operating the point on the Admirals power-play. This was scratching the surface while adjusting to the pro game. I’m very curious how high Allard’s ceiling can be because, for the tools he showed he can use, he has everything to take the necessary steps to reach the NHL in due time.
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