The off-season is just about over and players are getting ready to report to camp in the next few weeks. For the Nashville Predators, camp is an opportunity to make decisions on who makes the team and where each player fits. For the Milwaukee Admirals, it’s how they find out who they’re working with as the parent club assigns players down to the AHL level. Let’s take a look at how the Admirals may look starting the 2019-2020 season.
Before we get started, I want to say that I won’t be making line predictions in this post. With the amount of variables that go into deciding who gets assigned to the AHL level, it’s tough to accurately predict lines.
The Usual Suspects
There are a few players that just due to circumstance, we can almost guarantee will be making the Admirals roster out of the gate. Goaltender Troy Grosenick can be expected to lead the Admirals in net for the upcoming season. There has been some speculation about trading Grosenick, as the Predators organization is not in need of goaltending prospects. However, I believe Grosenick stays in the organization for the season and Wisconsin’s hometown boy will be in goal.
Other players I expect to return in Milwaukee from last season: Laurent Dauphin, Tanner Jeannot, Zach Magwood, Mathieu Olivier, Yakov Trenin, Alexandre Carrier, Matt Donovan, and team captain Jarred Tinordi.
One returning player to be excited about is Cole Schneider. Schneider was a mid-season pickup for the Admirals this last season and added some offensive stability to the roster. He signed a one-year AHL level contract back in July. Schneider was good for 22-points in 24 games with the Admirals.
Likely to Return
There has been some buzz about these players making the opening day roster for the Predators, however I believe they will start their season in Milwaukee with the possibility of moving up.
Colin Blackwell – While Blackwell spent some time in Nashville during last season’s cavalcade of injuries, he really didn’t start to shine for the Admirals until the latter part of the season. I believe Blackwell will start this upcoming season with Milwaukee and will remain a solid call up option for the Predators.
Frederic Allard – Allard has been a top defensive prospect for the Predators for some time now. Besides Dante Fabbro, Allard would be the most likely defensive candidate in the system to make the opening day roster. While Matt Donovan was the Predators go to selection for defensive call ups this last season, I believe Allard is the most likely defensive prospect to make the Predators roster. However, I believe the Predators will defer to Steven Santini (who was picked up in the P.K. Subban trade with New Jersey) before selecting Allard.
Could Go Either Way
Anthony Richard – Richard had a career season this last year. In 73 games, he scored 24 goals and had 47 total points. While Predators fans have spent the entire off-season discussing what to do with Kyle Turris and Nick Bonino in the wake of Matt Duchene’s signing, the fourth line has not gotten much attention. If the Predators were ready to give an up-and-comer a shot at some fourth line minutes, my choice would be Richard. However, after watching Laviolette for several seasons now, I think Richard starts his season in Milwaukee.
Eeli Tolvanen – If you kept up with my game coverage from last season, you know that Eeli Tolvanen is my favorite topic. (No seriously, tweet me about Eeli Tolvanen @Jensen_John_A). While there is a solid contingency of fans who want Tolvanen in Nashville this upcoming season; I believe another half-season in Milwaukee will do nothing but good for the young winger. Tolvanen played 58 games in Milwaukee in 18-19 and was good for 15 goals and 35 points. However, a lot of these came in the latter half of the season when he was beginning to adjust to North American ice. I’d expect to see AT LEAST another half season of the future Predators star in an Admirals jersey.
Rem Pitlick – Pitlick spent his first few weeks in the pros with the Predators, mostly serving as a benchwarmer. While he did see NHL minutes in one game, it’s almost certain the 2016 3rd round draft pick will spend some time with the Admirals this season.
Camp will also give us the opportunity to see if any of the 2019 draft picks will spend any time in Milwaukee this season or if they will return to their respective development programs.
Dante Fabbro – The Nashville Predators love their farm system. Almost every single member of the Nashville Predators that were drafted by the team spent meaningful time in the AHL with the Admirals. Out of current members of the Predators that were drafted by the team, Craig Smith probably spent the least amount of time with the Admirals (four games in 2012-2013). I predict that based on Fabbro’s performance in the playoffs last season that we will never see Dante Fabbro in a Milwaukee Admirals jersey. With the void created by P.K. Subban, I believe the Predators will put the rookie defenseman in the mix from the start.
Daniel Carr – Carr was a thorn in Milwaukee’s side all of last season during his time with the Chicago Wolves. When Carr signed with the Predators, David Poile stated that he believes Carr to be ready for regular NHL minutes. Based on last season’s performance, I’d agree. I think Carr makes the opening day roster for the Predators either on the third or fourth line but possibly as a healthy scratch.
Wildcard to consider
It’s no secret that the Predators have had a tough time figuring out what to do with Frederick Gaudreau. Besides his showing in the Stanley Cup Final in 2017, there’s not much to write home about. He dressed for 55 games in the 2018-2019 season and scored three goals. He’s played 84 career regular season NHL games and again has only scored three goals. When you have viable offensive options like Richard, Blackwell, Tolvanen, and Carr; you have to consider dumping the dead weight. Gaudreau’s two-way contract is now a one-way contract which means if the Predators were to ship him to Milwaukee, he’d come with a $700,000 price tag and would need to clear waivers. While I don’t think they go this route, it’s possible.
All-in-all the Admirals are looking at a strong possible roster to start this season. The curse of an AHL team is that a major variable is the health of the NHL team. If Nashville is plagued with injuries again this season, this Admirals roster is greatly weakened.
The Admirals also announced last week that they’ve signed play-by-play announcer Aaron Sims to another two seasons with the club. As a personal friend of Aaron’s, I’d like to congratulate him on his contract extension!
The Admirals play their first preseason game against the Chicago Wolves on Thursday September 26th. Admirals game coverage is available here on PenaltyBoxRadio.com all season long.