Welcome to Ramblings, which now exists in a world where the Washington Capitals are Stanley Cup Champions.
The post-game celebrations always get me when it comes to the Stanley Cup. But it is just all the more special seeing the likes of Lane Lambert, Barry Trotz, and Mitch Korn win it after their incredible contributions with the Nashville Predators and Milwaukee Admirals. And, chills, the sight and raw emotion exploding out of Alex Ovechkin when lifting the Stanley Cup was incredible. T.J. Oshie when discussing his father was a tear-jerker. All of it was a beautiful encapsulation of why hockey is so great. What a moment for all of them, their families, and the fans of Washington.
It has of course been another blur of a week as far as the Milwaukee Admirals are concerned. It wasn’t that long ago we were talking about Paul Fenton leaving to become the new General Manager of the Minnesota Wild. This week we were of course hit with the news that long-time head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals, Dean Evason, will also be heading to Minnesota and will be an assistant coach once again under Bruce Boudreau.
I’ve since gone on to speak -at length- about all of these changes in Milwaukee with some of our friends in Nashville.
You can hear my conversation with our great pal Justin Bradford of Penalty Box Radio right here. We talked about many things related to the changes as well as some of what happened this season and what to expect moving forward heading into Rookie Development Camp and Free Agency:
Then, yesterday evening, I had the chance to join Slap Shot Radio on ESPN 102.5 The Game in Nashville. I spoke with Nashville Predators Public Address Announcer, the always great Paul McCann, as well as Zack McCann and Daniel Keczmer on the program. When that audio becomes available I will have that here as well. Always a pleasure to chat with the McCann Clan and hear Spotted Cow get name dropped!
During these chats I want to say I began to get a much clearer picture of the good and bad of these changes.
On one hand, it’s change – and that alone can be daunting given the noted success by both Fenton and Evason in their time in the organization. On the other hand, it’s change and change provides opportunity to establish new approaches and winning cultures from both vacated positions.
We do not know who the replacement for Evason will be yet. We do know that Scott Nichol has succeeded Fenton as the General Manager of the Milwaukee Admirals. And, in what can be considered his first act in that role, he went out and grabbed a player that perfectly solved an issue that was missing right out of the gate this past season: a veteran defenseman with quality professional, NHL caliber, experience – Matt Donovan. The changes are starting and they will only pick-up more and more once free agency begins.
This gets into the topic of just what Nashville Predators Rookie Development Camp will be like come the end of June. I’m planning on attending but it really will be a veritable “who is that” of players and possibly coaches. The roster won’t be known for a bit yet and typically the Milwaukee Admirals coaching staff takes a hands-on role at teaching and working the week and Future Stars Game at the Bridgestone Arena.
Similar to what I meant on that clearer picture part: change, it’s daunting and yet exiting. Nashville will be getting a first-look at a good few of these unknowns due to arrive in Milwaukee either in the Fall or time to come. It’s an Rookie Development Camp and the Future Stars Game could be viewed as nothing more than a series of practices and a glorified scrimmage game -BUT- this year you will really be wanting to see some names separate themselves from the pack and stand out. The organization’s top depth in the NHL is great. The prospect depth is bare and needs meat back on the bone.
I’m expecting one of the more fascinating points of that week to be potentially watching who is working between the pipes. There are two newbies arriving from Europe this coming season, Miroslav Svoboda (who already has his Milwaukee Admirals tendy gear game on point) and Niclas Westerholm, and there is usually a good crop of others from juniors or elsewhere that arrive and work the camp.
Troy Grosenick is the lock for Milwaukee in 2018-19. Who else is there to help in the awful event of injuries to the Finnish duo in Nashville? That’s an extreme scenario, yes, but not an unlikely one. It’s a question that should have an answer as far as contingent plans are concerned. Nashville dodged that bullet this season but you can only luck out on situations such as that so many times before it hits and hits hard.
I’d hope to see something special early out of Svoboda or Westerholm. Both will be around on entry level contracts in the organization beyond 2019: Westerholm signed for three-years, Svoboda signed for two-years. These are projects but also players who you feel need to hit the ground running upon entering a North American pro environment on arrival. It’s a tough ask. And we will -possibly- get a glimpse at month’s end as to how tough of an ask it might be should either be in Rookie Development Camp.
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