A few months removed from the end of the 2021 AHL season, we now have a clearer picture of what the Milwaukee Admirals will look like heading into next season. With some fresh faces coming in and many bodies returning, Rachel and I will be delivering position-by-position report cards for Nashville’s AHL-based prospects over the next week. First up are the goalies.
Devin Cooley | 24 | Chicago Wolves [AHL]; Florida Everblades [ECHL]
Signed last summer as a college free agent, Devin Cooley spent the majority of his season in the ECHL with the Florida Everblades. He appeared in 22 games for Florida but ultimately lost his starting job to Jake Hildebrand down the stretch. In the AHL, Cooley was thrown into just two games for the Chicago Wolves due to a series of call-ups and injuries. He posted two wins but earned a 0.895 save percentage and allowed six goals total.
RK: Cooley was what you’d expect from a college goaltender dealing with a weird, shortened COVID-19 season. He was quite serviceable in the ECHL with Florida and won both of his games with the Wolves, playing behind an excellent combined Carolina/Nashville prospects squad. Two games is not a great sample size, but he looked AHL-replacement-level in net for the Wolves.
ED: Rachel is spot on. I’m not sure there will be much more Nashville extracts from Cooley, and I would suggest that Tomáš Vomáčka has the upper hand for the Admirals’ back-up job this season. But he’s solid depth nonetheless.
Connor Ingram | 24 | Chicago Wolves [AHL]; IF Björklöven [Allsvenskan]
Starting the season in Sweden’s Allsvenskan, Ingram played in just nine games before heading back to North America at the height of a since-disproved match-fixing scandal.
Before the AHL and NHL seasons got underway, however, Ingram checked himself into the NHL’s Player Assistance Program for an unreleased reason. Upon returning to the Chicago Wolves, Ingram earned five games of AHL action but struggled to recapture his game. He finished the season with a 0.899 save percentage, 17 goals allowed (albeit behind a defense that was playing poorly at the time), and -0.170 goals-saved above average.
RK: When he did get a chance to play in the three-or-four goalie roundup of Carolina/Nashville, Ingram was so-so—not the Ingram we’re used to seeing. He looked like a guy trying to find his footing, his game speed, and his sharpness again, which is to be expected after not playing competitive hockey for many months. The weird COVID-19 season plus his time in the player assistance program result in us not being able to pass too much judgment on Ingram this season.
ED: There truly isn’t much analysis we can add to this bizarre season for Nashville’s prospects in the net. Ingram has the complete support of the organization, and I think he’ll do well with the starter’s job in Milwaukee with less pressure to be an NHL back-up after a year where he struggled on and off the ice.
Next season, Nashville has to be happy with their goalie depth in the minors. Connor Ingram will be the starter in Milwaukee and will be looking to spring himself into a full-time role in the NHL in 2022-23. Devin Cooley and Tomáš Vomáčka will battle things out for the backup role, and I presume whoever the third goalie is will head to Florida in the ECHL.
All statistics are courtesy of eliteprospects.com or manually tracked.