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3 Reasons to Pay Attention to the Milwaukee Admirals

The Admirals are on a 17-game winning streak. Yep, you read that correctly–17 games in a row. Here’s some reasons to pay attention to the boys in Wisconsin.

Young Star Forwards

Jusso Pärssinen and Phil Tomasino are currently assigned to Milwaukee. Alongside Fedor Svechkov (currently injured), Zach L’Heureaux, Joakim Kemell, and Egor Afanasyev (currently with Nashville), lots of Nashville’s young stars are suiting up for the Admirals. Guys like “Happy” L’Heureaux bring the spit and fire every single game, and it seems that Kemell can score nearly at will on the power play.

It’s ideal to have Tomasino and Pärssinen with Milwaukee for playing time, including tough minutes on defense and special teams. We know the AHL is a developmental league, but it’s a professional league, and there are increasing numbers of star talent playing in the “A” because there is no room for them in the NHL. Nashville’s got a lot of those guys stashed away in Milwaukee, and they’re absolutely dynamic players who are quite fun to watch.

Our friends at Penalty Box Radio interviewed “Happy” back around the holidays and he’s made it a point to grow his game in Milwaukee so he is ready for NHL action soon. Check out that interview here:

Hot Goalies

Yaroslav Askarov and Troy Grosenick are arguably the best goaltending tandem in the AHL. Both netminders have NHL experience. Milwaukee’s incredible win record is due to their incredible play. In 27 games, Askarov has a 2.12 GAA and a .920 Sv%. Grosenick has played in fewer contests (19), but he can boast a .919 Sv% and a 2.34 GAA. Those are some stellar numbers for these goalies.

Askarov continues to refine his game in the AHL. After his first AHL All-Star Game (his second nomination), he’s been his usual wild, impressive self, and has four shutouts this season. For pure entertainment value, Askarov alone is worth you tuning into Admirals hockey.

Impressive Blue Line

The Predators have long prided themselves on drafting stellar blueliners. Names like Ryan Ellis, Shea Weber, Kevin Klein, and Roman Josi set the standard. In Milwaukee, there’s a substantial amount of defensive talent that remains in the AHL because of a backlog at the NHL level.

No one knows what GM Barry Trotz will do at the trade deadline, but it seems like there’s a d-man backlog nearly every season that prevents players from breaking into the NHL–think about Alexandre Carrier a few seasons ago. In Milwaukee, Spencer Stastney, Marc Del Gaizo, Jordan Gross, Adam Wilsby, Jake Livingstone, and Kevin Gravel–currently wearing the C for Milwaukee–all hold down the blue line.

Del Gaizo is underrated at the AHL level, boasting some incredible fancystats that someone like Bryan Bastin would have to dive into. [Ed.: We’re working on it!] Stastney was Milwaukee’s other representative at the AHL All-Star Game in San Jose last month, and it was a well-deserved honor. Stastney has had some NHL time, and I’d expect he is simply marinating in Milwaukee before making the leap.

Wilsby and Livingstone have been stable, durable players for the Admirals, but they don’t play in every contest. There’s a lot of development happening in Wisconsin for Nashville’s current blueline crop, and I expect that a few others will make the transition to Milwaukee after their NCAA seasons are complete. A strong defense will be crucial for Milwaukee heading into the spring.

Impressive Times in Milwaukee

This is a team capable of winning the Calder Cup, and AHL playoff games are absolutely crucial in a young player’s growth and development. Again, the AHL isn’t just “the minors.” Last season, we saw Milwaukee blast through two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs only to be stymied in the Western Conference Final by the Coachella Valley Firebirds.

With arguably a better lineup and goaltending, is this the year Milwaukee makes it to the Final? There’s a lot of variables at play because AHL lineups change so frequently, but I highly recommend you tune in and check out the boys in Milwaukee. They’re a lot of fun to watch, and it’s always exciting to be able to say you saw some great future talent “back when.”

Talking Points