Preds summon the Black Aces

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 13: Martin Hanzal #11 of the Phoenix Coyotes skates against Jonathon Blum #7 of the Nashville Predators at the Bridgestone Arena on October 13, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

Now that the Milwaukee Admirals are out of the playoffs, the Nashville Predators have called up five players today from their minor league club. These guys (Victor Bartley, Jonathon Blum, Chris Mueller, Kyle Wilson and Jeremy Smith) are expected to serve as "Black Aces" (explanation of the term here), additional practice players who are there to keep the tempo high and increase the competition for ice time.

An excerpt from the team's press release follows...

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Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announce today that the club has recalled defensemen Jonathon Blum and Victor Bartley, forwards Chris Mueller and Kyle Wilson, and goaltender Jeremy Smith from Milwaukee (AHL).

Bartley, 24 (2/17/88), ranked second among AHL rookie defensemen in points (39) and assists (30), and tied for fifth among all blueliners in power-play goals (7) in 2011-12. Signed as a free agent on May 24, 2011, Bartley spent the 2010-11 campaign with Rogle of Sweden's second division (Allsvenskan), ranking second among league defensemen in points and assists, in addition to tying for third in goals (11g-23a-34pts, 52gp).

Blum, 23 (1/30/89), started the 2011-12 season with the Predators, posting seven points (3g-4a) in 33 games before being assigned to Milwaukee, where he had 26 points (4g-22a) in 48 games and one assist in three Calder Cup Playoff contests. Nashville first selection, 23rd overall (first round), in the 2007 Entry Draft dressed for all 12 of the club's playoff contests one year ago, ranking fourth among team blueliners in average ice time (18:51).

Mueller, 26 (3/6/86), tied for fifth in the American Hockey League in goals (32), and tied for 13th in power-play goals (11) while also leading the Admirals in points (60) during his third season in the organization. The West Seneca, N.Y., native also spent time with the Predators for the second consecutive season, dressing for four games in 2011-12 (0g-0a) after playing his first 15 NHL contests with Nashville a season ago (3a).

Smith, 23 (4/13/89), led the AHL in minutes played (3,284), while tying for the league lead in games played (56), ranking second in wins (31), and fourth in goals-against average (2.17). Nashville's second choice, 54th overall (second round), in 2007 Entry Draft was also recalled to Nashville twice this season, but did not make his NHL debut.

Wilson, 27 (12/15/84), paced the Admirals in assists (32) and ranked second on the club in both goals (22) and points (54) in 2011-12. The 6-0, 201-pound center also led Milwaukee in 2012 Calder Cup Playoff scoring with three points (1g-2a) in three games. Wilson started the season with Nashville, going pointless in five games; it was his third straight season playing NHL games after posting 11 points (4g-7a) in 32 games with Columbus in 2010-11 and a pair of games with Washington in 2009-10 (2a).

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