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Predators’ Prospects Recap: Free Agency Update

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Lots of Milwaukee love in July.

2017 SAP NHL Global Series - Ottawa Senators v Colorado Avalanche
Woah...one current Ad and two former ones in a photo. Weird.
Photo by Nils Petter Nilsson/Ombrello/Getty Images

David Poile and Co. have made six signings since free agency opened on July 1 and all six are - hopefully - aimed at helping the Milwaukee Admirals now and in the future. Below I will breakdown each signing, explain where each player fits on the depth chart, and provide some game analysis.

Jarred Tinordi - D

Tinordi was a 2010 first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens who never particularly panned out. At 26 years-old, Tinordi has only played 53 NHL games in eight years and scored only eight assists over that time. But, he has become a serviceable AHL veteran. With experience Hamilton, St. John’s, Tuscon, and Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton, Tinordi was an expected signing for an Admirals’ defense that is led by four young prospects.

His 21 points last season would have been third amongst defensemen who finished the season in Milwaukee (trailing only Alexandre Carrier & Frederic Allard). Tinordi will, in theory, replace Granberg on the Admirals’ depth chart and appears to be a huge improvement in driving offence:

Granberg versus Tinordi - 2017-18
prospect-stats.com

My guess is that Tinordi plays less even strength minutes this year and serves as a stability on special teams. But, we’ll see. He is a big defenseman who likes to move laterally rather than north to south. He’s a slower-paced skater but has decent shut-down abilities. At $650K for one season, it’s a fine signing.

Rocco Grimaldi - RW

Grimaldi, another high draft pick from the early part of this decade, is a really nice signing for an Admirals club that lost a cadre of veterans and needed help on the wing. Much like Tinordi, Grimaldi never quite stuck in the NHL. Since being drafted in 2011, he’s played in 37 NHL games but 237 AHL games posting 76 goals and 161 points.

Grimaldi would have finished the season 8th on the Admirals in scoring, but he played significantly less games than all eight players. He will be one of a few forwards tasked with replacing Trevor Smith, Bobby Butler, Harry Zolniercyzk, etc. He’s almost an exact replica of these players in terms of AHL production but five years younger.

Grimaldi versus Zolniercyzk
prospect-stats.com

Grimaldi is a lightning-fast winger with a dangerous wrist shot. His size isn’t much of an issue as he is a tenacious forechecker.

He has, at times, unbeatable awareness in the offensive zone and will beat teams by finding open space to clean up a rebound or unload his lethal shot.

He can score from all areas of the ice and will be counted on to help catalyze Milwaukee’s younger offensive pieces not carry the load as the team’s veterans had to do this past season. This is most likely my favorite signing of the offseason and love Grimaldi as an upgrade over Milwaukee’s veteran corps last season.

Bonus: Grimaldi scored his first NHL goal against the Predators four years ago in the game where the Panthers scored twice in the final minute to force overtime.

Connor Brickley - F

Brickley is another interesting signing and another top-50 pick from the 2010 or 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He first broke into the NHL in 2015-16 where he played 23 games for the Florida Panthers. He saw no NHL time in 2016-17 and then was close to a full-time player last season with 44 appearances. It was a career year for him (albeit, not by much), but he took another two-way deal for less NHL salary.

Another note about Brickley is that he hasn’t come close to being an elite AHL player since 2014-15. But, he did post 1.53 points per sixty in a limited NHL showing this past season. I would be mildly surprised to see him land a call-up over Pettersson or Gaudreau (if he doesn’t make the opening night roster), but I’m also really curious how the organization sees him in their plans. This contract definitely seems like a show-me deal.

He is a good skater with excellent balance and puck protection skills and a reliable two-way game. Brickley will be counted on in a similar role as Grimaldi: a catalyst for developing talent.

I think Brickley is an upgrade over Miikka Salomaki as a 13th forward - especially in regards to their hockey IQ - but it appears Salomaki is likely here to stay.

Zac Rinaldo - F

Nothing much to add here (aside from the fact that Salomaki only scored one more point then Rinaldo last season...sorry, sorry...I’m getting off topic).

I will cede this one to Alex. Please enjoy!

Colin Blackwell - C

Blackwell was a seventh-round draft choice of the San Jose Sharks in 2011 before his freshman season at Harvard University. In his first year at Cambridge, Blackwell posted an impressive 19 points in 34 games and was shaping up to be a steal for the Sharks at 194th overall. Injuries set him back and he stayed at Harvard for five seasons before signing an AHL deal with the Barracuda in 2016-17.

After 11 points in 57 games in his rookie AHL season, Blackwell skyrocketed to 17 goals and 45 points in 61 games for the Rochester Americans this past season. This performance earned him his first NHL contract.

At 25 years-old, he is likely a model (production-wise) for what the organization would like to see in Tyler Moy or Anthony Richard as soon as possible. A 34-point improvement won’t happen naturally to every player, so keep an eye on how consistent Blackwell’s production is this season.

Blackwell versus Trevor Smith
prospect-stats.com

He’s an above-average, younger replacement for the center depth lost and produced much better on less shots-per-game than most of Milwaukee’s offensive driving forces last season - including former captain Trevor Smith.

Blackwell is a quick-thinking player with speed to burn. You’ll notice in the clip above his impressive stick-handling ability, slippery use of his frame, and intuitive nature to create high-danger scoring chances when peeling off the boards.

A two-year deal indicates the organization sees him in their long-term plans which makes sense - he is already one of Milwaukee’s better producing forwards. When more and more smaller players are blossoming later on in this league, it’s worth the risk.

Zach Magwood - C

Magwood was this year’s Development Camp darling and scored a three-year, entry-level deal out of it. In 173 OHL games, Magwood scored 52 goals and 106 points but went undrafted.

Magwood is a speedy player who finds times and space in the low slot better than most. You’ll see above (#18 in white) that he slips down low, two unaware defenders are pulled out of the slot and he fires a puck home with his dangerous snap shot.

Magwood’s 2017-18 production
prospect-stats.com

He produced at a top-line rate buried behind players like Andrei Svechnikov on the Colts’ depth chart and shot frequently.

Magwood’s Shot Map
prospect-stats.com

He collects his points, as mentioned above, in the low slot, but they are infrequently garbage goals. He’s refined his ability to choke up on his stick and get a well-placed shot off in tight quarters.

Magwood’s three-year deal comes at an NHL cap hit of $753K per year.

Milwaukee’s 2018-19 Depth Chart

As of today, here is how Milwaukee’s depth chart shakes out for this upcoming season.

2018-19 Milwaukee Admirals’ Depth Chart
Eric Dunay

All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com or prospect-stats.com. All contract information is courtesy of capfriendly.com.