Blog: Aaron Sims Free Agency Reactions
So, how are you enjoying NHL free agency?
To date, it’s been pretty quiet as far as your Milwaukee Admirals are concerned. A few players have been allowed to leave. Others have received qualifying offers. But, not much has happened as of the time I am writing this.
I have received more than a few complaints about Nashville allowing Charles-Olivier Roussel to become an unrestricted free agent by not tendering him a qualifying offer. I don’t think this surprised many, including Roussel. He grew leaps and bounds last season. All season long, the coaches would remark how Roussel was one of the most pleasant surprises of the season. They were right.
He was a victim of a logjam at the position. Moreover, he was a victim of a logjam of similarly-aged athletes. Seth Jones will be 20. Roman Josi just turned 24, as did Mattias Ekholm. Ryan Ellis is 23 and Victor Bartley is 26. In Milwaukee, you have soon-to-be 24-year-old Anthony Bitetto and 23-year-old Scott Valentine. Each of these contracts will be due at about the same time. My belief is the next wave, guys who are a few years younger (and cheaper), needs to be developed. That’s why we’ll see Garrett Noonan, Jonathan Diaby, Mikko Vainonen, Jay Rissling, Jimmy Oligny and maybe Taylor Aronson.
Joonas Rask was not sent a qualifying offer, either. He burst upon the scene in his first AHL game with a goal and assist. In a full season last year, he didn’t build those numbers like some thought he would. Rask was a good player and very hard to play against, but a little small and the fact he didn’t play in the postseason meant the writing was on the wall for him. He was very low on the depth chart.
I think everyone knew Scott Darling would not be back. The Admirals got a lot out of him in one season and, to his credit, he made the best of his time to earn a NHL deal with the Blackhawks. We’ll most likely see him in Rockford, but he has his first NHL deal. With four goalies already on NHL deals for the Predators, there was no space for Darling.
Joonas Jarvinen had a very good season for the Ads. But, like Roussel, he was one of many defensemen in the same age group. Jarvinen shows good toughness and is an excellent penalty killer. He does need to improve his speed. I was encouraged the Preds sent him a qualifying offer. Maybe we’ll see him return from the KHL one day.
It will be most interesting to see what Nashville decides to do with Kevin Henderson, who spent the last month of the regular season with the Calder Cup Champions Texas Stars. Henderson still has a year remaining on his contract. I imagine he will be traded, but who knows?
In minor league hockey, our favorites come and go. That’s the unfortunate part of this business. The home opener is Oct. 10. There’s still plenty of time to piece this thing together.