Tag: Chet Pickard

ECHL to the NHL, Could Pickard be Next?

The American Hockey League, which is celebrating its 75th season, is justifiably proud of it role it plays in grooming players for the NHL.  But the league isn’t the only place where top-level caliber talent goes to develop the skills necessary to play on hockey’s biggest stage.

As of last count the ECHL has churned out 459 alumni who have played in the NHL.  Some of the names who have that have made that jump are pretty impressive, including Tim Thomas, Jaroslav Halak, Jonathan Quick, Tomas Vokoun, Ruslan Fedotenko, Joe Corvo, Rich Pevelry, and two Admirals from 2010-2011, Chris Mueller and Mark Dekanich.

Of the five most recent former-ECHLers who got their NHL shot, three spent time with the Cincinnati Cyclones.  Recently I asked Cyclones coach Jarrod Skalde who are the next players from Cincinnati who could make the move up to the NHL:

Skalde: Right off the top, I would have to say our goaltending.  If you look at Chet Pickard, you see a talented, talented kid.  He’s had some struggles up in Milwaukee, and that’s part of the reason why he is here now.  But he works extremely hard.  He understands where he’s at and what he has to do to get out of here and back up to Milwaukee and hopefully in the future with the Nashville Predators.  Chet’s a pleasure to have down here in Cincinnati.

Another guy is Marc Cheverie with the Florida Panthers organization that is in the same boat.  He is a top prospect that is in the ECHL right now trying to figure out his game.  They are two guys that complement each other very well and share the same vision and same focus of wanting to get up to the National Hockey League.

There you have it, Pickard and Cheverie.  With the Florida Panthers looking to unload Vokoun at some point, Cheverie looks like he might have the easier road of moving up.

(For more on Cincinnati’s role in the Nashville Predators/Milwaukee Admirals organization, check out my feature story here)

So Roundtable, Is there a player on Cincinnati who could eventually play in the NHL?  Is there an alumnus of the ECHL on Milwaukee who could make the jump?

How Do the Virtual Milwaukee Admirals Stack Up?

A few years ago video game manufacturer EA Sports added the AHL to its options of teams you can use for their NHL video game.  I am not a frequent “gamer,” but I like to dabble from time to time, and I’ve found the addition of the AHL teams to be a pretty neat thing.  Imagine matching your hometown club against the best in the NHL in an exhibition match, or playing a showdown between an NHL team and its top AHL affiliate.

Having recently purchased “NHL ’11” as a early Christmas gift for a friend, I figured it would be a lot of fun taking the virtual Admirals for a spin.  Now my friend is a far better “gamer” than I am (my glory days on the Sega Genesis have long since passed me by), but I managed to go 1-2-0 against him, using Milwaukee vs. Lake Erie twice and Wilkes-Barre Scranton once.

Here are some of my observations about the virtual Admirals:

1) Mark Santorelli is amazing.  It was really fun using both Santorellis on the same line last year on “NHL ’10,” but virtual Mark continues to be a dynamite player on the game for the Admirals.  My best play was a 2-on-1 one-timer which Santorelli usually finished for a goal.

2) Linus Klasen is an unknown.  I never could quite get a handle on how best to utilize Klasen on the offensive attack, even on the power play.  Most likely that’s because I don’t know how to use all the special player moves, but virtual Klasen proved a touch maddening.  Zero points in three games.

3) Brett Palin, Teemu Laakso, Jonathon Blum and Scott Ford were all dependable.  Despite my poor record, every game was low scoring.  My virtual Admirals defense blocked an amazing amount of shots.   I was especially impressed with virtual Palin, who hit everything that moved.

4) Chet Pickard played like Chet Pickard has so far.  The rosters we used for the game must have had Mark Dekanich called up with Nashville, because my only options were Jeremy Smith and Chet Pickard in net.  I couldn’t manage a big save from virtual Pickard when I needed it, and I couple of goals I wanted back big time.

So Roundtable, when/if you play video game hockey, do you choose to play with the Milwaukee Admirals?  If you do, then what are some of your observations?  Do some of the virtual Admirals surprise or disappoint you?  Who is your favorite virtual Admirals player?

Grading the Admirals Through the First Quarter of the Season

Offense (B-): Clearly, coach Lane Lambert has some work to do with Milwaukee in making the Admirals a more dangerous offensive hockey team.  Other than Linus Klasen and a few other players, Milwaukee isn’t blessed with an abundance of firepower.  Therefore the offense has to come by way of committee effort–a Nashville trademark.  Prior to the road trip, the Admirals got goals from players on their top three lines, but that dried up some in Texas and Oklahoma.  Milwaukee averages 2.55 goals per game, which is not going to cut it long term.

Defense (B+): This might have been the hardest grade for me to judge. 90% of time Milwaukee has really impressed me in their own end, preventing their opponent from getting quality scoring chances against.  Allowing just 2.36 goals against per game is a testament to the Admirals efforts in the defensive zone.  However, lapses at bad times have proved punishing for Milwaukee.

Goaltending (A-): If this only had to do with the performance of Mark Dekanich, I would state it as an A or A+, but No. 2 slot has hardly been reliable so far for Milwaukee.  It’s nice to see Jeremy Smith picking up some much needed wins for the Admirals, but Milwaukee really needs Chet Pickard to elevate his game to the higher level he seems more than capable of reaching, but for some reason hasn’t found yet.

Special Teams (C-): Carrying a power play ranked 20th in the AHL at 15.8% and penalty kill ranked 18th working at an 82.1% efficiency just isn’t going to cut it long term.  The power play in particular went cold as the Admirals headed south on the road.  For a team that struggles at times to score goals, special teams could prove to be a decisive weapon for Milwaukee competing against more offensively gifted clubs.

Final Grade (A-): Milwaukee has far exceeded my expectations through the first quarter of the season, which is a credit to Lambert efforts and the efforts of the team as a whole.  The Admirals were a young and unproven club to start the year, but prior the extended road trip the club was starting to form solid identity as a tough team to play against.  But don’t mistake young and unproven for a lack of talent.  There is plenty of talent in Milwaukee to build a winning hockey club, and so far Lambert has the Admirals heading in the right direction toward to a berth in the AHL playoffs.

So Roundtable, What are your grades for the Admirals so far?