If you blinked, you may have missed AHL training camp.
The Milwaukee Admirals training camp opened last Tuesday, and in less than a week, they’ve had a few practices, played in a pair of pre-season games, and already made their first round of cuts.
Early thoughts about how the team is shaping up... after the jump.
Nothing all that surprising came out of the cuts, as they were mostly free agents that were invited to camp, auditioning for the coaches in hopes that they might get a phone call later this season after injuries and call-ups start to pile up. As expected, Jeremy Smith heads back to Cincinnati to start the season. With all the goalie talent in the Nashville system, he’s the low man on the totem pole, and it’s tough to envision that changing unless someone is traded.
In the two pre-season games last weekend, the Admirals game-day rosters consisted of a mix of free agents and players that are expected to be regulars. Meanwhile, both of their opponents fielded teams that were likely going to resemble their opening night rosters.
The Admirals came away with two victories: 3-2 in a shootout over the Rockford IceHogs, and a solid 3-1 win over the Chicago Wolves.
As to some of the individual players...
He is quickly going to become a fan favorite. While he didn't make a mark on the scoresheet in the two exhibition games, he was able to display his speed, his tenacity, and a pretty nice two-way game. He spent some time on the penalty kill units, and in the Rockford game, had a great breakaway chance after creating a turnover around the Milwaukee blue line. He shifted into a gear that we haven't seen very much in Milwaukee. I'd like to see some more of it. And his big hits too.
More speed, but hasn't yet matched the hype from Preds training camp. We heard about how he turned a lot of heads in camp, but haven't seen it so far.
He did score the game winning goal in the Chicago game, but overall, he hasn't really stood out. He biffed his shootout attempt against Rockford, but had a good attitude about it after the game on his twitter page: "3 2 shootout win tonight I shot in the shooutout and dumped it in the cornerHaha oh well get them next time I guess, if there is a next time ". The skill is obviously there, and once he gets to know his linemates a little better, I think he'll be part of a pretty great scoring line. He was practicing with Matt Halischuk and Chris Mueller on Monday.
He played in the second pre-season game, and looked very poised against the Wolves, who have a ton of offensive talent. And it's tough to fault him on the one goal he gave up, at the tail-end of a 5-on-3 power play. The defense deserved some of the credit too, but based on what I've seen so far, if Chet ended up with the majority of the starts in net, we'd probably be pretty happy with the results.
Didn't play in either of the exhibition games, but Admirals play-by-play man Aaron Sims wrote some complimentary words for Spaling on his blog on Monday.
Even if the Predators don't send anybody else down this week to Milwaukee, I like the way the roster is looking. When you start to brainstorm line combinations, and you run out of lines before you run out of players, you know you've got some great depth. Offensively, it's a great mix of speed and skill. And defensively, it's a great mix of youth and experience.
There's a lot to be excited about for the Admirals this year. We'll see how it all comes together when the season opens in Milwaukee this Saturday night.