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The Milwaukee Admirals stand for the national anthem ahead of a game against the Chicago Wolves.


Scott Nichol’s trade deadline masterclass is paying off

Milwaukee Admirals

Scott Nichol’s trade deadline masterclass is paying off

At the 2023 NHL trade deadline, injuries along with David Poile’s roster decisions gutted the Milwaukee Admirals.

In the midst of a serious run at a Central Division title and the Calder Cup, Milwaukee lost the likes of Luke Evangelista, Kiefer Sherwood, Phil Tomasino, Egor Afanasyev, and Tommy Novak to recall; those five combined for 163 points in 211 games with the Admirals this year. Nashville’s farm team also went stretches without players like John Leonard, Zach Sanford, Jordan Gross, and Kevin Gravel, forcing Karl Taylor to rely more on AHL depth pieces and tryout players.

With so many absences in the lineup, General Manager Scott Nichol could’ve panicked. The organization could’ve asked for a top AHL scorer in one of their deadline deals, or they could’ve sacrificed draft capital or another valuable asset to replace the offensive punch of Tomasino, Sherwood, and Co.

Instead, Nichol executed three precise moves to shore up the Admirals’ depth chart, allowing those players the fresh start and ice time to help diversify Milwaukee’s offensive attack. The results, so far, are nothing short of impressive.

Credit: Milwaukee Admirals

Ahead of the final stretch of the regular season, the organization traded for Isaac Ratcliffe, Austin Rueschhoff, and Anthony Angello; in return, they gave up literally nothing (future considerations in all three cases).

There are a few things those three have in common. One, they’re all 6’5″ or taller; two, they’ve all got over 100 games of AHL experience, and three, they all needed a change of scenery.

Ratcliffe—a former second-round pick—had fallen out of favor in the Flyers’ organization, going from a prospect with serious NHL hopes to being a healthy scratch every other night in the AHL. Angello, who was a star at Cornell, has 30 games of NHL experience, but could barely crack ten points with the AHL’s Thunderbirds. And Rueschhoff was an AHL regular who posted just two goals in Hartford after a 14-goal season in 2021-22.

Combined, Ratcliffe, Angello, and Rueschhoff scored just ten goals and 26 points in 102 games this year before being traded. Since coming to Milwaukee, that trio has been resurrected, chipping in 15 goals and 37 points in 59 games.

Isaac Ratcliffe (#22, white) scores against Texas in March 2023

While he won’t be winning any speed skating competitions, Isaac Ratcliffe has become a reliable winger who Karl Taylor can slot in on pretty much any line. He’s often played alongside quicker skaters like Jimmy Huntington or John Leonard, potting four goals and 16 points in 21 games. He’s added to the element that Cole Schneider brings each night: a dangerous net-front presence that can still fire the puck and beat goalies from a distance; he also plays with a bite not found in the Ads’ top six.

On top of that, Ratcliffe has been an excellent possession player and good in transition. In five games I tracked, he posted a 54.95% Corsi at even strength and chose to skate the puck into the offensive zone (instead of dumping it in) 70.59% of the time.

Anthony Angello (#21, white) scores against Laval in March 2023.

In his 17 games with the Admirals, Anthony Angello—a player Nichol has been interested in for some time—posted seven goals and 12 points, including eight primary points scored at even strength. Impressively, he recorded a primary point on two-thirds of the even-strength goals he was on the ice for.

While Ratcliffe has been a valuable screener and solid offensive cycle player, Angello has drastically improved Milwaukee’s high-danger scoring chances. In five games, he recorded 11.82 shot attempts per 60 minutes and 6.45 of those were from high-danger areas. He’s also been a good puck distributor, posting 13.97 primary shot assists per 60 minutes.

On top of that, Angello has also bolstered the Admirals’ transition game, exiting his own zone with possession 86.67% of the time.

Austin Rueschhoff (#45, blue) scores against Chicago in April 2023.

Austin Rueschhoff has given Karl Taylor more versatility with his middle- and bottom-six groups, playing both wing and center for the Admirals. In 21 games, the former Rangers prospect chipped in four goals and nine points, totaling an impressive 1.96 even-strength, primary points per 60 minutes.

Reuschhoff has added a successful scoring punch outside of Milwaukee’s top lines as depth pieces around him have struggled to pitch in on the scoresheet consistently. He recorded a primary point on 63.64% of the even-strength goals he was on the ice for, and he’s used his size well in transition; Reuschhoff entered the offensive zone successfully on 57.14% of his attempts, including bulldozing his way to a 100% success rate when skating the puck in himself.

With 17 healthy forwards on the roster, Karl Taylor will have some major lineup decisions heading into the playoffs. But Ratcliffe, Angello, and Rueschhoff have made their cases. Ratcliffe and Angello were two of the team’s four best forwards possession-wise in my tracking, and Rueschhoff has raised offensive expectations for the bottom six.

Milwaukee fought for the Central Division title until the last weekend of the season, and it’s hard to argue that would’ve been the case without this trio. Scott Nichol took a swing on these three forwards, and the positive results are undeniable. Whatever Taylor’s first lineup against Manitoba looks like, Scott Nichol has set him up beautifully with a myriad of choices.

All statistics are courtesy of,, or manually tracked.

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