Photos courtesy Chris Jerina.
Taking a break for a moment from all the playoff coverage, its time for another farm report from Milwaukee Admirals blogger Eric Kent of Admirals Short Shifts.
The Predators are well known for developing stud defensemen (Dan Hamhuis, Marek Zidlicky, Shea Weber, Ryan Suter, Cody Franson, Kevin Klein, it goes on), but its not often we hear of a promising young forward.
So its with much delight, then, that we present this update on recently signed prospect Ryan Thang, who is immediately making an impact at the AHL level.
This is the time of year when everyone talks about the value of "experience". Playoff experience is such a valuable commodity that guys like Chris Chelios keep getting jobs just to impart their acquired wisdom to the younger guys going through it for the first time.
It's also the reason that the Admirals bring in recent Nashville draft picks like Charles Olivier-Roussel and Michael Latta, even though they aren't expected to play a lick.
Then there are the few that are not only signed, but actually suit up and contribute. 2007 draft pick Ryan Thang joined the Admirals on St. Patrick's Day, and has become a regular in the lineup. "I like his intelligence level," says coach Lane Lambert. "I think he was very well coached at Notre Dame."
Thang's collegiate career came to a close this spring after four seasons. The forward finished his Irish career ranked first all-time in game winners, fifth in games played, fifth in power-play goals and tied for 10th in short-handed goals.
Thang was able to adjust quickly to the professional game - playing 12 games for the Admirals to close out the regular season. He scored three goals and added three assists, registering at least one point in his last three contests. "I was nervous the first night in Houston," said Thang.
In that first road game, Thang spent some time on the fourth line while he got his bearings. Coach Lambert then displayed the amount of confidence he has in the rookie - moving him to the Ads' top line with Nick Spaling and Mike Santorelli."That makes all the difference in the world," said Thang. "The game slows down a lot when those guys are on the ice. They're talking, helping me out on the bench; and the guys have really made the transition a lot easier."
The transition from regular season to playoff hockey shouldn't be much of a problem for Thang, either. He was a member of two CCHA regular-season and playoff championship teams during his Notre Dame career. "He has the speed, and he has the maturity and intelligence in his game," added Coach Lambert. "He's a guy that we look to here heavily in the future and the Predators look to in the future in the organization. I think he's come in and done a real good job for us so far."
Thang compares himself to one of his former linemates in Milwaukee - current Predators forward Nick Spaling."Just a strong two-way player; reliable on both ends of the ice. Not too fancy, but I can score some goals and set some plays up. And I can fit on any line, whether it be a checking line or a top line helping create some space for the other guys like Mike (Santorelli)." Given Thang's childhood, that's not a big surprise. Born in Chicago, but raised in Minnesota, Thang was a big fan of the Minnesota North Stars, and found his favorite player early on.
"It was Mike Modano from day one," says Thang. "I've got his Olympic jersey, his North Star jersey, his Dallas jersey, a couple of sticks. He was just a great character guy both on and off the ice. Especially being a young kid joining the NHL right away, he always seemed to carry himself well and stayed out of trouble. That was always the guy I wanted to play like. A great skater, could shoot the puck but was always a team player as well. I followed him throughout his whole career. If I could be half the player he is, I'd be very happy with myself."
Thang may not be projected to be another Mike Modano, but Predators fans can rejoice that he isn't expected to be the next Alexander Radulov. "I'm really happy to be with the organization - with Nashville and Milwaukee - and real excited to help out the team any way I can as we push through the playoffs."
Thanks so much to Eric for providing the article, and all photos are courtesy of Chris Jerina.