Tag: Nashville Predators

Mark Dekanich Recalled to Nashville

Life got a little more difficult for the Milwaukee Admirals today.  Goaltender Mark Dekanich was called up this morning by the Nashville Predators for his third stint with the club.

As of present time, I am not sure what this all means. but I do know that there are a lot of rumors involving Predators backup goaltender Anders Lindback.  Lindback is a player a lot of teams are interested in (for obvious reasons:  he’s young, big but mobile and has a great record in relief this season), therefore something could be afloat for Nashville, especially with Dekanich joining the Predators as insurance.  At least three teams, including Toronto, Colorado and the New York Islanders are actively shopping for goaltenders.

Around the NHL, it looks like the Tomas Kaberle deal to the Boston Bruins is now complete.  Plus former Wisconsin Badgers goaltender Brian Elliott was traded today to Colorado for almost playoff hero Craig Anderson.

Lots of trade buzz today.  It should be fun to see how it all shakes out.

Nashville Acquires Mike Fisher from Ottawa for Picks

Huge news today out of the Music City.  The Nashville Predators have acquired forward Mike Fisher from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Nashville’s first round selection in the 2011 draft and a conditional pick next year.

The move is a monumental one for the Predators, as only two players, Patric Hornqvist (16) and Sergei Kostitsyn (15), have scored more goals this season than Fisher (14).

As a player with an extensive playoff resume, Fisher brings a set of intangibles as a player that is hard to find.

The question now is which player will be moved to make room on the Predators roster for Fisher.  My guess is that Matt Halischuk will be sent back to Milwaukee, but that is simply speculation.

Coincidentally this transaction happens on the same day I write a feature on how important the Admirals have been this season in keeping Nashville alive in the Western Conference playoff race.  A curious piece of timing for the trade to say the least.

Another curiosity:  What role did Mike Fisher play in choosing his new home?  Fisher is of course married to country singer Carrie Underwood.  She may have been pushing Ottawa’s fan favorite to move south.

Combined with Chicago’s trade yesterday of Jack Skille for Michael Frolik and the Francois Beauchemin/Joffrey Lupul deal, it has certainly been an eventful couple of days around the NHL.

So Roundtable, what are your thoughts on the Mike Fisher trade?

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?

Klasen Reassigned…Again

Looks like more tough love from the Nashville Predators for Linus Klasen.

Just an hour after I ranted about how Klasen should have played in southern California instead of Wade Belak, the Admirals goal scoring spark plug got a return trip to Wisconsin.

When I interviewed Klasen after the Predators morning skate on Wednesday, he seemed to know this move was inevitable.  More seasoning in the AHL is what Barry Trotz and Nashville are calling for as the Predators top scorers slowly return to the line up.

Klasen did get an average of nearly 13 minutes of ice time in the three games he appeared in for the Predators, though he registered no points.

On the bright side, this is a nice perk for those of us making the trek to the Bradley Center this weekend, getting to see Klasen again lace up for the Admirals.  If he dresses Saturday night, there will be an awesome match up of highly skilled, developing players, with Nazem Kadri playing for the Toronto Marlies and Klasen skating for Milwaukee.

So Roundtable, Are you excited or disappointed to see Linus Klasen back in Milwaukee?

Big League Observations from the Press Box

A short vacation/work trip to southern California to take in the Rose Bowl afforded me the chance to spectate the Milwaukee Admirals’ parent club, the Nashville Predators, as they competed in Anaheim one night prior to my return voyage back to frosty Wisconsin.

Here are four of my observations from the Predators 4-1 victory over the Ducks.

1) Chris Mueller fits right in with Nashville.

Though Chris Mueller finished the night with just 8:28 of playing time (the second fewest minutes of any Predators forward) he played a strong two-way game, registering two shots on goal and contributing to several sustained Nashville shifts in the offensive zone.  Though Mueller is slightly undersized by NHL standards, the work ethic he showed all year in Milwaukee was evident at the Honda Center.  In three games of NHL action through Thursday, Mueller has yet to score, but I have a feeling that will change in the near future.

2) Wade Belak over Linus Klasen?  Seriously, Why?

I have seen enough of Wade Belak’s career to really wonder why he has an NHL job in the first place.  Against Anaheim, Belak played a whole 1:55, picking up an entertaining scrap with veteran NHL goon George Parros.  Belak was in the lineup against the Ducks simply to match up against Anaheim’s size, but everyone else seemed to be doing just fine, including the 5’10” Mueller.  Instead of Belak, I wanted to watch Linus Klasen skate alongside Mueller to give Nashville another potential scoring option.

With a back-to-back game in Los Angeles on Thursday, I certainly would have plugged Klasen into the lineup against the more up-tempo Kings.  Belak was a complete non-factor, getting less than four minutes of ice time in this game.  I have to think that Klasen would have made a more positive impression than Belak, especially as a player hungry to get into the line up.  Still, Nashville dominated for a 5-2 come from behind win.

3) Jerred Smithson and Nick Spaling made big impressions.

Jerred Smithson might not be the most exciting player on the Predators, but the former Admiral plays with a ton of heart.  Smithson worked his tail off the whole game, and got rewarded with fluky goal that only he knew was in.  Playing on the same line as Smithson, Nick Spaling played what I thought was his best game so far with Nashville.  He logged over 17 minutes of ice time, assisted on Smithson’s goal and was all over the place on the Predators relentless forecheck.

4) Sheldon Brookbank is stuck as the odd man out in Anaheim.

The remembrance of Brian Burke’s general manager days in Anaheim remains obvious in the team’s defensive corps.  Despite losing Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer over the past two years, there are few precious open slots on the Ducks blueline.  With all eight rostered defensemen currently healthy, former Admiral Sheldon Brookbank is finding a hard time getting into the line up, much like fellow veteran Paul Mara.  From watching him during the pregame skate, Brookbank looked like he was itching to get back to competing rather than spectating.

Chris Mueller Officially Signs with the Predators, Likely to See NHL Debut Tuesday

Looks like Chris Mueller got a slightly post-dated Christmas present from the Nashville Predators.  Mueller signed a two-way contract, making him an NHL option for the Predators, who are ravaged by injuries at the current moment.

This appears to be a sign-and-play immediately deal for Mueller, as the forward is expected to make his NHL debut on Tuesday night as the Predators face the Dallas Stars.

Mueller has been nothing short of awesome for Milwaukee in 2010-2011, scoring 12 goals and 20 points.  This is a well-deserved promotion for the West Seneca, New York native who was NHL free agent playing on a contract with the Admirals.

Despite the injuries to the Predators you have to wonder what exactly triggered this decision?  With Mueller really stepping up his game at the AHL level, interest had to be growing among other NHL clubs.

Did Nashville sign Mueller to prevent him from signing with another NHL club, wanting to keep him within the organization?  Or did the Predators sign him, so they could trade him away in the near future?  Or did Nashville finally realize what they had in Mueller as a player, and now the organization is ready to mold him into exactly what Barry Trotz wants?

So Roundtable, what do you think?

Steve Begin Recalled to Nashville; Dylan Hunter joins Milwaukee; Mark Van Guilder Update

News out of Nashville is that Steve Begin has been recalled.  I fully expected Begin to get the call up to the Music City at some point this season, but what surprised me is that it took this long.

During his time in Milwaukee, Begin got 21 games of AHL seasoning and retooling, chipping in three goals and one assist.  Begin started showing signs of shaking off the non-training camp rust before suffering an injury setback.

But this is a well-deserved promotion for a guy who plays hard every night.

In his place the Admirals called up Dylan Hunter from the Cincinnati Cyclones.  Hunter bears a striking resemblance to former NHL-er Dale Hunter, one of the toughest guys ever to play the game.  Of course Dylan is Dale’s son.  Considering the Admirals are losing Begin, there doesn’t seem to be a more perfect player to take his place.

Mark Van Guilder is also close to returning the Admirals.  He may be back in the lineup as soon as Tuesday night in Chicago.

So, Roundtable, what are your expectations for Begin in the NHL?  Will he fit right in with Nashville, or will this not work out?  Do you like the addition of Hunter, who played nine games in Milwaukee last season?

Taking a Look at Milwaukee Alums who are playing/have played with the Nashville Predators in 2010-2011

With Nick Spaling finally getting over the hump and scoring his first NHL goal, I thought it would be worth taking a look at the progress of some of the Admirals who have played with Nashville so far this season, but also who have spent time in Milwaukee.

Spaling hasn’t had much puck luck in the NHL, as it took 50 games to get over the hump against the New York Islanders.  On a 5-on-3 power play Spaling setup on the right side of the net.  A couple of nice passes later and Spaling had himself a gaping net.

“It was a pretty nice play and they set me up pretty good there,” Spaling said.  “It was a wide open and I just had to put it in.  I was pretty lucky to get that one.”

(Check out the rest of his post game conversation here)

It is now going on two weeks and Mark Dekanich has yet to get a start with Nashville during his second stint with the club in 2010-2011.  The problem has been the unbelievable play of goaltender Anders Lindback.   Lindback has two shut outs in a row, and those starts weren’t even his best so far.  Last Wednesday Lindback shut down Detroit for a 3-2 Nashville win, making 15 saves in a third period dominated by the Red Wings.

Dekanich looks likely to get in goal for his first NHL game sometime this week as Nashville faces three games in four nights starting tonight at home against San Jose.

Fellow Scandinavians, Teemu Laakso and Linus Klasen, have each played in one game a piece with the Predators and both have yet to record a goal.

Of the other players who skated with Milwaukee in 2009-2010 and are currently with Nashville, Cal O’Reilly has six goals and 18 points, Colin Wilson has six goals and 12 points, Cody Franson is off to a great start with 4 goals so far and Alexander Sulzer has yet to score in 12 games of NHL action.

Stay tuned later this week for my feature on the relationship between Nashville and Milwaukee in the Predators organization, and in January for my piece on the success of Milwaukee developing NHL talent.

Comparing College Hockey to the Pros

The first few years that college hockey players play professionally have a tendency to be either feast or famine.  Some players like Jonathan Toews, Joe Pavelski, Zach Parise, Blake Wheeler and Dany Heatley adjust their games quickly to pro level, while others like Kyle Turris, Kevin Porter, Ryan Duncan and T. J. Hensick struggle adapting their games to the faster professional pace.

Current Nashville Predators goaltender Mark Dekanich is a player that has had lot of success in his young professional career.  Dekanich’s success came after he excelled playing four years of Division 1 college hockey at Colgate University.  The 2005-2006 season was the Raiders’ best of the past decade, as Dekanich, then a sophomore, backstopped Colgate to ECAC regular season championship.

Recently Dekanich chatted with me about the differences between playing college hockey and professional hockey:

Which is more difficult, playing college hockey or professional hockey?

Dekanich: “In college we had a lot more to do.  We practiced everyday just like we do now, but after practiced we had to go home and read for class, write papers, prepare for tests and do other things like that.  It is actually less work as a professional.  When were done at the rink, we’re done for the day, so after that I have to go home and try find something for myself to do to pass the rest of the day away.”

What are some some of things you learned from your college experience that paid off during your time as a professional?

Dekanich: “There were a lot of things I had to learn like living on my own.  That helped prepare me for things like cooking for myself now that I play pro.”

To read more from my interview with Dekanich, check out my feature on the netminder on MilwaukeeAdmirals.com.

So Roundtable, this year’s Admirals feature several ex-college players, such as Blake Geoffrion, Ryan Flynn, Chris Mueller, Scott Ford, Grant Lewis, Mike Barlett, Mark Van Guilder and Ryan Thang.
Which players have adjusted their games the best to the professional level, which are still a work in progress, and which are too early to tell?