Category: Feature

Development Camp: Day 1

(Photo Credit: Daniel Lavender)

The Nashville Predators Development Camp festivities are off and running. Day 1 at Centennial Sportsplex is in the books and provided fans the chance to get to see some of what the prospect pool has to offer. It also saw the likes of Scott Ford and Wade Redden running practice as well as a coaching presence from Scott Nichol, Ben Vanderklok, and David Rook.

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Empire of Dirt

2017-18 is in the books. The Washington Capitals are your Stanley Cup Champions. The Colorado Eagles secured back-to-back Kelly Cup crowns before they will elevate up to the American Hockey League in 2018-19 as the new affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche. And last night the Toronto Marlies defeated the Texas Stars to earn the first Calder Cup in their franchise’s history. Across the board, NHL/AHL/ECHL, this may have been the most thrilling playoff season in the sport’s history.

“What happens next,” you ask.

In the past this was a question with a simple answer and a mapped out off-season guide. The NHL Awards aren’t that far away. That’s followed by the 2018 NHL Draft in Dallas. Before you know it there is Nashville Predators Development Camp and the start of NHL Free Agency. Yet what happens next in regards to Admirals Roundtable is an answer that is no longer clear.

I am a big believer in honesty. So I will be as open and transparent with the news that took place this past Monday as I can be.

Admirals Roundtable has been a fan blog backed by the Milwaukee Admirals. It was created and operated by Ryan Miller with an aim of having fun and giving fans a place to go and banter about their local professional hockey team. I had finished the 2012-13 season as a communications intern with the Milwaukee Admirals and it coincided with Ryan becoming a first-time dad and looking to move on with the website. If I wasn’t around, or willing to take on the role at that time, Admirals Roundtable would have died five-years ago.

From the moment Admirals Roundtable was first offered to me by Milwaukee Admirals VP/Communications, Charlie Larson, I was fully aware that there was next to no money in it. The real satisfaction would come from the work itself.

In the five-seasons I have had as Editor-in-Chief of Admirals Roundtable I can say that there was nothing I wanted to do more than this. I was chasing my dream and, like the communications internship out of college, it was an opportunity to make my dream of working in sports become a reality. This chase became my full-time job. The hunt of working in the sports industry, which so often times means working for nothing until you find or make a break for yourself, was my life from the moment I started writing for the University of Wisconsin-Parkside’s student newspaper. I’ve never stopped trying to improve. I’ve never stopped believing in myself. But time is cruel and optimism can erode.

These last two seasons have been incredibly difficult for myself. It has been a battle between the hope and passion that I have of making an impossible dream exist versus the painful reality of reality. I do not have the financial means to support myself and haven’t this entire time. This was the path that I chose to walk. I knew it going in and I know it now. If I was going to be who I wanted to become this was the opportunity to grow. I have and have for the better. But as seasons come and go, as players arrive and depart, and as teams uproot and move or completely dissolve: my calling for one chance and hope for that one job has been answered by nothing louder than silence and the passage of time.

This past Monday the Milwaukee Admirals informed me that Admirals Roundtable will no longer receive the funding that has kept it and myself going strong. The path that I put myself on has stopped.

“What happens next,” is a question that looks back at me with cold eyes and kills me every single time I keep asking it in my head. I have been privileged to be around the Milwaukee Admirals these last six-years. I am so fortunate for every single person that I have met and so incredibly proud of the work that I have been able to accomplish. The man that I am today is better because of the experiences that I have had through Admirals Roundtable. I have loved this like nothing else and every part of me wants to find a way to see this dream stay alive. I just do not have an answer as to how it can.

I have had Development Camp in Nashville at month’s end circled on my calendar for awhile now. Nashville has always delivered, always. It’s become a place that reminds me of how not alone I really am and of the warmth and kindness the hockey community provides. I need every ounce of that right now and I will be there.

Until that time, my thanks to you -the Admirals Roundtable audience- cannot be stated enough. The “Roundtable” has had a seat for all of us, you and I, but you have been the driving force in keeping discussions going and making this so much fun to be able to do and keep doing. There are so many individuals who I haven’t even had the chance to meet in-person and I love them for contributing to the growth of this website and my journey as a person. You reading this now have made my life better. And I can’t thank you enough for that.

Daniel Lavender
Admirals Roundtable

The Dean Evason Appreciation Post

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)


That is the number of players who logged their first career NHL game after playing under Dean Evason during his six-seasons as head coach of the Milwaukee Admirals.

Those players, by order of NHL debut, were: Victor Bartley (3/8/13), Taylor Beck (3/19/13), Austin Watson (4/7/13), Daniel Bång (4/9/13), Kevin Henderson (4/19/13), Joonas Rask (4/25/13), Magnus Hellberg (10/26/13), Marek Mazanec (11/8/13), Colton Sissons (1/28/14), Simon Moser (2/1/14), Calle Järnkrok (3/21/14), Mark Van Guilder (3/30/14), Miikka Salomäki (1/8/15), Anthony Bitetto (1/17/15), Viktor Arvidsson (3/21/15), Kevin Fiala (3/24/15), Juuse Saros (11/28/15), Pontus Åberg (5/3/16), Frédérick Gaudreau (10/22/16), Mike Liambas (12/3/16), Vladislav Kamenev (1/6/17), Alex Carrier (1/17/17), and Trevor Murphy (3/24/18).

The list is simply many and could perhaps even still grow in time.

And that doesn’t begin to cover the handful of names who worked with Evason and his coaching staff in Milwaukee and navigated into a secure place in the NHL. The likes of Mattias Ekholm and Filip Forsberg come to mind as players who stamped out a season under Evason before settling into and remaining in Nashville.

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Roundtable’s 2017-18 Most Valuable Player Award

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

When the 2017-18 season was lining up and getting ready to go: I was highly concerned about the Milwaukee Admirals goaltending situation. It had been years upon years of a prospect or two rolling in, both with a decent ceiling to reach for, and often enough they would so quality spurts of great work in net. That wasn’t what this season was going to be. There were going to be three gambles, two potential projects, and one attempt of a revival project.

What happened early pretty much summed up the way things would be in net. Anders Lindbäck was the man. It made you look at his recent history and wonder if it all served to build up to it clicking with the Admirals in an AHL season that could boost him back to an NHL opportunity. He was the foundation from which the Admirals did everything well this season and night in and night out gave them a chance to succeed on certain evenings when they probably shouldn’t have had a chance. And he is without question our selection for the 2017-18 Most Valuable Player Award.

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Roundtable’s 2017-18 Forward of the Year Award

(Photo Credit: Jeff Hanisch)

2017-18 marked the first time that the Milwaukee Admirals lacked a 50 point scorer since the 2012-13 campaign. The 216 goals scored this past season was the fewest scored in a regular season by the Admirals since 2014-15 when they last missed the AHL Calder Cup Playoffs. It wasn’t that the forward group was poor by any means. In fact, of our end-season awards at Admirals Roundtable, this choice is by far the most difficult.

I feel that there are six forwards who could rightfully get the nod for the Admirals Roundtable’s 2017-18 Forward of the Year Award. Yet, I can only decide on one. And that one is Anthony Richard.

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Roundtable’s 2017-18 Defenseman of the Year Award

(Photo Credit: Andy Nietupski)

The ups-and-downs of the 2017-18 season from the Milwaukee Admirals mostly reflected a very young defensive core struggling to find consistency. It’s not to say that there was a lack of high points or stellar efforts. It just wasn’t on display near enough to make a difference.

When looking at the field of contenders for Admirals Roundtable’s 2017-18 Defenseman of the Year Award I feel as though many can have a different opinion on who would be most deserving and that opinion wouldn’t really be wrong. For myself, I can’t help but keep coming back to the efforts and growth of Petter Granberg this season. He was a force on defense in a season when that element was badly needed.

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Roundtable’s 2017-18 Rookie of the Year Award

(Photo Credit: Scott Paulus)

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.

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