We are early in the summer-movement period in hockey and, already, we know the Milwaukee Admirals will have a different look next season.
What else is new?
Minor league hockey is all about changes. With all 30 AHL teams being affiliated with a NHL club, the vast majority of players are NHL property. When a team deems a player has used up his usefulness, a change will be made. Prospects are always coming in.
Teams decide they have seen what a player can add to a lineup and must decide if it’s enough to keep them around. Change is inevitable.
Since the Admirals won the Calder Cup in 2004, the team has averaged a return of 16.7 players that wore the uniform at least once the previous season. That includes players that came down for a game or two on a conditioning assignment (i.e. Anders Lindback) or were recalled for a game or two (i.e. Preston Mizzi).
That average drops to 13.8 players if you only include players that appeared in a minimum of 20 games the year after appearing in at least one game (including playoffs).
Here is a list of 18 players under contract that may play in Milwaukee this season.
Forwards: Taylor Beck, Zach Budish, Patrick Cehlin, Kevin Henderson, Mike Liambas, Joonas Rask, Josh Shalla, Scott Valentine, Mark Van Guilder, Austin Watson
Defensemen: Taylor Aronson, Anthony Bitetto, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Joonas Jarvinen, Joe Piskula, Charles-Olivier Roussel
Goalies: Magnus Hellberg
Daniel Bang is still a restricted free agent and hasn’t signed, yet.
With the way Nashville’s roster currently sits, it’s conceivable that 13 or 14 of these listed players will be in Milwaukee, which would be right at the average of the last ten years.
I know this blog seemed to start as a “All our players are gone”-type blog, but it’s actually a “The change isn’t as drastic as we think it is”-blog.
Yes, key, long-term players have moved on. Chris Mueller signed with Dallas. Jeremy Smith signed with Columbus. Juuso Puustinen went back to Finland. Some have already, or will graduate to the NHL.
Still, others remain. We’ll see plenty of familiar faces. We always do.
Here’s a list of some former Admirals and where they’ve signed to play in 2013-2014:
NHL: Patrick Bordeleau (Colorado Avalanche), Matt Hendricks (Nashville Predators), Aaron Johnson (New York Rangers), Ryan Jones (Edmonton Oilers), Brian McGrattan (Calgary Flames), Mike McKenna (Columbus Blue Jackets), Mike Moore (Boston Bruins), Chris Mueller (Dallas Stars), Mike Santorelli (Vancouver Canucks), Jeremy Smith (Columbus Blue Jackets), Zack Stortini (Anaheim Ducks), Alex Sulzer (Buffalo Sabres), Nolan Yonkman (Anaheim Ducks)
AHL: Triston Grant (Grand Rapids Griffins)
KHL: Mark Dekanich (Medvescak Zagreb), Atte Engren (HC Lev Praha), Josh Gratton (Barys Astana), Hugh Jessiman (Medvescak Zagreb), Janne Niskala (Atlant Moscow Oblast), Kyle Wilson (Dinamo Riga)
Austria: Mark Matheson (Vienna Capitals)
Czech: Libor Pivko (Kometa Brno)
England: Andrew Lord (Cardiff Devils)
Finland: Ryan Glenn (SaiPa Lappeenranta), Juuso Puustinen (HIFK Helsinki), Daniel Widing (Espoo Blues), Ryan Zapolski (Lukko Rauma)
Germany: Grant Lewis (EHC Munchen), Marco Rosa (Wolfsburg Grizzly Adams), Kim Staal (Starbulls Rosenheim)
Sweden: Jani Lajunan (Vaxjo Lakers), Ryan Thang (Mora IK)
Switzerland: Matt Ellison (EHC Biel), Ville Koistinen (HC Davos)
For what it’s worth, Hockey Prospectus ranks Nashville’s prospects rather highly.
Anybody else anxious for the season to start?