When you look back at recent draft classes by the Nashville Predators it is hard to look past that group in 2014 and not just stare at all the names. It was a sensation draft that helped the Nashville Predators and feed into the Milwaukee Admirals. You had Kevin Fiala, Vladislav Kamenev, Jack Dougherty, Justin Kirkland, Viktor Arvidsson, Joonas Lyytinen, and Aaron Irving. That last name on there was really the only one that didn’t stick but Irving still made his pro debut with the Admirals and continues to play at an incredible level for the Kalamazoo Wings in the ECHL.
Yet, when Lyytinen first arrived to Milwaukee it was much like Irving: at the end of the 2015-16 season. He actually showed up with a fellow Finn and Nashville Predators draft pick named Janne Juvonen. Neither played. They sat back and had the chance to see the North American game up close through an AHL lens.
It felt like neither would be coming over after a 2016-17 season flew right on by with neither leaving the pro scene in their native Finland. That changed this season. Lyytinen is here and looking to make strides in one of the most competitive defensive cores in all of hockey: the Nashville Predators organization.
The Milwaukee Admirals started the 2017-18 season with plenty of returning faces from a team that last season felt truly special that simply ran into a Grand Rapids Griffins buzzsaw that would ultimately work its way to a Calder Cup triumph. 19 players returned from last season’s Admirals squad. Come opening night of the new season the Admirals would win 5-2 on the road against the Iowa Wild. 20 players suited up that night. Jump ahead to the day after the NHL’s Trade Deadline and a quarter of the Admirals opening night roster has been traded away. This season was built to fail from the beginning and a final attempt was made the last two days in the hopes of rescuing what is left of it.
The Milwaukee Admirals wrapped up the month of February with a four-game road trip. It started with one of the best periods of hockey they had played all season followed shortly by about eleven periods of scrambled form and sheer confusion. The Admirals started the month by ending a six-game losing streak and going on a nice run by claiming wins in the next four straight. Then the doom and gloom of 2017-18 crept back in and they ended the month on a 1-4-0-1 stretch. “Up and Down” continues to be this season’s theme.
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.
The Milwaukee Admirals will be hosting the annual Battle of the Badges at the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena on Sunday 4 March, 2018. The Firefighters and Law Enforcement go head-to-head in a pair of games, 12:00 PM CST and 1:30 PM CST, with proceeds for attendance all going to a great cause.
Fans have two choices. All tickets purchased through the Firefighters will support Burn Camp and the Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin’s efforts to fight cancer. Tickets purchased through the Law Enforcement will support C.O.P.S. Kids Camp and Cops for Kids.
You can view more details courtesy of the Milwaukee Admirals Battle of the Badges page. You can then allow me to be your guide for what actually goes into all that happens from one side of the rink and off of it. Prior to the Firefighters first practice as a team I was contacted by Milwaukee area firefighter Tony Scott to see if I would like to help promote this year’s event. In year’s past I only sat back and watched these games and saw it as a special treat that I could finally watch a game without the thought of work. After having taken up Scott’s offer now I have a tremendous amount of respect for the magnitude of what the Firefighters do to prepare themselves as a hockey team all while keeping us here in Wisconsin that much safer.
“When you say it it sounds pretty cool,” is what Butler told CBS 58 this past week when hearing his name an the term ‘US Olympian’ attached to it. At 30-years of age the eight-year pro has seen and experienced a lot to reach this big of a stage. His final scheduled game before leaving for South Korea was Tuesday night and he managed to record a goal for his 200th career AHL point. He helped contribute to the Admirals snapping a six-game losing streak and earning a 3-2 shootout win over one of the best teams in the league this season, the Manitoba Moose, and did it all hours before he took flight. His focus is on the here and now. And now it is time for a dream to be realized.
In the most recent off-season the Milwaukee Admirals announced the signing of 23-year old goaltender Jake Paterson. It felt like one of those goaltending projects that could have a nice pay-off. Paterson was stuck in the Detroit Red Wings system and never really was afforded the chance to show what he could do on the AHL stage. It has been a rotation heavy time for both Admirals goaltenders behind Anders Lindbäck but lost in that is this has been the longest time spent operating in the AHL in Paterson’s career. It has been an opportunity to learn and to grow.
Tyler Moy has barely scratched the surface of his professional career. Yet, it hasn’t taken that long for all of us from the outside to see what a Renaissance Man he is. He arrived out of his collegiate career at Harvard University still grinding away with online classes while making his pro debut with the Milwaukee Admirals in order to graduate on time. And he did with a degree in Human Evolutionary Biology.
The Milwaukee Admirals month of January started off with such promise. Despite loads of up-down stretches in December there were overtime games and narrow results by month’s end that felt as though the Admirals were slowly turning a corner. January was reflecting that change and the Admirals were able to get a season high four-game winning streak in the process. Yet, ups and downs is the theme that is plaguing the 2017-18 season. It has been the most consistent element of all. And that is why it almost didn’t feel shocking to see the month of January end with a season low in a four-game losing streak which remains active once play resumes after the AHL All-Star break.
Tonight is the start of the 2018 AHL All-Star Classic festivities from Utica, New York. The event begins with the AHL All-Star Skills Competition at 7:00 PM CST tonight and is followed by the AHL All-Star Challenge tomorrow night at 6:00 PM CST. The Milwaukee Admirals will have two representatives for the event: Anders Lindbäck and Emil Pettersson.
We’ve already had the chance to get to know Pettersson a bit better earlier this season. Now it is time to chat with the Big Swede himself whose journey from being drafted to being an AHL All-Star has been an incredible one to follow.