Ramblings, Vol. 48

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

The first day of Summer might not -officially- be until late-June but I think hibernation time is done. Before we start the Memorial Day Weekend I think it’s a good time to bring Ramblings back. This column will keep active weekly throughout the off-season with news, notes, and commentary on all the changes taking place – of which there have been several the last few weeks. So, let’s not waste much more time because we actually have some catching up to do.

~EXIT~

After speculation, it was made official that Petter Granberg is returning home and rejoining his long-time boyhood club Skellefteå AIK. He signed a three-year contract that will last to the 2020-21 season after having played the last five-seasons playing professionally in North America.

Press Release via Skellefteå AIK (English Translation):

It is now clear that Petter Granberg returns to Skellefteå AIK after five years of play in North America. “This is a really important future win for us, so we are hugely happy to welcome Petter back in the club,” comments sports director Mikael Lindgren.

Petter Granberg is a well-known player for the Skellefteå AIK audience. After playing in NHL and AHL for Toronto and Nashville, he is now back for three new seasons in the club.

Granberg is a right-wing back with the size and strength that defends his main asset.
“Petter will be able to contribute a lot to the defensive job for us,” says Lindgren.
“But we should not compromise his offensive qualities. Although his main strength is defensive, we hope to also lift and utilize his offensive.

In addition to SM gold with Skellefteå AIK 2013, the 26-year-old also has a 2012 Gold Gold 2012 and a World Cup Gold 2013 on the merit list. And Lindgren is convinced that he will continue his development and achieve new successes.
“Despite his young age, he is a well-known player, whom we believe will be able to further develop, to perhaps return to NHL in the future if he wishes. Petter has always been hugely well-trained and really seriously set to sport and it will take him a long way.

Petter Granberg comments on the contract:
– Really fun to be here and inspiring to come back! I’ve played here before so I know how everything works and I was very well when I was here last so it felt like the best option for me.

The contract extends over the 2020/2021 season.

Petter Granberg has Malmberg’s AIF as a mother club but arrived early at Skellefteå AIK where he played junior hockey before joining the A team season 2010/2011. In 2010, he was also drafted for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and for the 2012/2013 season he signed three-year contracts with them but was loaned to Skellefteå AIK in the first year and thus agreed to win SM gold in the spring of 2013.

In total, there were 75 SHL matches before leaving Sweden for Toronto 2013/2014. After the contract expired, he then ended up in Nashville’s organization for three seasons. In total, there were 45 NHL matches and 258 AHL matches (of which 76 matches 2017/2018) for Granberg.

This felt inevitable. Granberg was well out of the mix as far as the defensive core goes in Nashville. He was first brought into the organization. on waivers after an off-season where he was injured, went from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Nashville Predators, and had a massive systems change and style of defense to learn all while his body wasn’t entirely in the place it needed to be with a Summer filled with rehabbing injury rather than strength and conditioning.

It never seemed Granberg was a Predators style defenseman. He was never the greatest, fastest, or agile of skaters. He had good raw strength and was a force within his own zone. Yet, the string of good health and staying under the Predators organizational banner vaulted the big Swede into an easy choice for me as naming him Admirals Roundtable’s 2017-18 Defenseman of the Year. His skating got so much better, he moved better, his defense was solid, and his ability to make plays up ice was far improved.

Still, despite that, there really isn’t going to be an NHL team looking for that sort of defenseman to bring in and hope the improvements keep pushing up and into the NHL ranks out of an AHL scenario. Granberg is going to be 26-years old come August. I think the move back home, specifically with his long-time team in Sweden Skellefteå AIK, is a perfect fit to keep going from where he left off. That should be an ideal match for both Granberg and Skellefteå AIK.

~ARRIVAL~

The Nashville Predators signed forward Calle Persson to a two-year entry-level contract. The Swedish winger will be 23-years old when the 2018-19 season rolls around and finished last season with Karlskrona HK where he produced 24 points (13 goals, 11 assists) in 52 games.

Press Release via Nashville Predators:

Nashville, Tenn. (May 9, 2018) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced Wednesday that the club has signed forward Carl Persson to a two-year, entry-level contract.

Persson, 22 (6/28/95), finished third on Karlskrona with 24 points (13g-11a) in 52 games in his first full season in the Swedish Hockey League. He spent the previous two seasons in Sweden’s second division with BIK Karlskoga, where he tallied 31 goals – including 26 in 2016-17 – and 51 points. He racked up the fourth-most points in Sweden’s second division in 2016-17 with 44 (26g-18a) and helped lead Karlskoga to a second-place finish in the standings. Persson made his professional hockey debut with the SHL’s HV71 in 2014-15, recording an assist in four games.

Never drafted, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward played for the Tingsryds AIF program from 2011-14, finishing in the Top 3 on his team in scoring list in each of his three seasons.

First off. The story up until Rookie Development Camp or Training Camp in Milwaukee is going to be asking whether it is Calle or Carl. It seems a lot of places, including his Instagram, has it as Calle while both Elite Prospects, the SHL, and the Predators have it written as Carl. That’s one we’ll just have to sort out in time I suppose. It wouldn’t be an Admirals season without deciphering a European name or two.

Secondly. Remember how the Predators swooped in and signed 2016-17 Allsvenskan MVP by the name of Victor Ejdsell? That season he played for BIK Karlskoga where his teammate just so happened to be Persson. Ejdsell, who leads the 2018 AHL Calder Cup Playoffs in goal scoring for the Rockford IceHogs, lead the league in scoring that season. Persson though was third on that team in scoring and actually scored more goals (26) than Ejdsell (25) along the way. Perhaps this could be lose one diamond in the rough and pluck out another? We shall see.

Lastly, given that Thanos has snapped his fingers and half of the 2017-18 Milwaukee Admirals roster is really up in the air? This European injection is really feeling like the depth pieces getting added now with a ton more to follow. Players that are now “IN” for the 2018-19 season are the likes of Persson as well as Tanner Jeannot, Mathieu Olivier, Filip Pyrochta, Miroslav Svoboda, and Miroslav Svoboda.

~Fenton OUT, Nichol IN~

That last paragraph perfectly segues into this segment. And, truthfully, this was the biggest move of the entire off-season and the off-season hasn’t even fully started yet. Paul Fenton has been with the Nashville Predators organization from the beginning. He has helped out so much with the Milwaukee Admirals and it does feel very well deserved that he gets a chance to be a General Manager in the NHL and he takes that chance with the Minnesota Wild.

But, and my gut feeling when it happened before an announcement of his replacement, are the Admirals better off? Because recent history would suggest to me that they could be.

When viewing the Milwaukee Admirals in a bubble over the last few seasons it is a difficult task to associate what is a success and what is a disappointment. There have been numerous individual talents that have developed, matured, and made an NHL splash for the Predators. That’s good. But the Admirals, as a team, have only a single playoff victory since the 2012-13 season, haven’t won a playoff series since the 2010-11 season when Lane Lambert was head coach, and have missed the Calder Cup Playoffs twice in the past four-seasons. A culture of winning in the AHL and then winning in the NHL is being lost.

I’ve said it a lot along the way. The Admirals were pretty well constructed to fail in 2017-18. The hope rested on several young defensemen being able to exceed expectations if the team were going to have success. That didn’t happen. It never made sense that it could happen. And the addition of a more veteran presence on defense wasn’t added until the NHL Trade Deadline, John Ramage, which was already a move made far too late to have made a difference.

This is where the idea of Scott Nichol stepping in as the new General Manager of the Milwaukee Admirals is exciting to me. This isn’t someone outside the organization stepping in and assuming control. Nichol was a Director of Player Development for the Predators and has been incredibly active around the Admirals for the past five-seasons.

Nichol is someone that has been behind the bench at games, worked practices, knows the thoughts and ideas of the Admirals coaching staff as well as communications from individual players on what’s what. His promotion to the role of General Manager comes after what was a long, long season of a rough developmental process for so many young players. The season started with a thin roster and was weathered even thinner until the NHL Trade Deadline. Nichol knows more can be done. He is now in a position to have a better influence on helping resolve those problems.

This off-season just became that much more fascinating because we will see, player by player, a roster being assembled in Milwaukee without Fenton and by someone in a first-year opportunity as an Assistant General Manager of the Nashville Predators looking to prove the organization that they chose right to promote him.

How big of a change will it be without Paul Fenton guiding the Milwaukee Admirals player personnel decisions? Do you feel Scott Nichol, someone who has been around the team in recent years, can best address some of the core problems that have cost the Admirals deep playoff runs in recent years?

Be sure to keep updated with Admirals Roundtable through social media platform of your choice: follow along on Twitter, like us on Facebook, get photo updates on Instagram, and listen along on SoundCloud.

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