As we get ready for the the 2014-15 season, it may be time to get yourself reacquainted with your team’s minor league affiliates and what could be in store for your team should they need a call-up or two. I’ll go through them team by team in hopes that this enlightens some people to their affiliate teams. Today, the Nashville Predators are on the board with their affiliates in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a revisit to Cincinnati, Ohio.
Affiliate Since: 1998-99
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 536 miles
Last Season: 39-24-6-7, 3rd in Midwest Division, 6th in Western Conference
While they are a defensive minded team for the most part, the Admirals had a touch of scoring from a various amount of sources on their teams last season, which got them to the playoffs– but didn’t allow them to win a game when all was said and done.
A bright spot for the Admirals was the play of the rookies, especially with Miikka Salomaki leading the scoring for Milwaukee, with Colton Sissons and Austin Watson joining Salomaki in the 20-or-more goal scoring club. Another rookie who impressed, albeit for a short time, was Filip Forsberg, who put up 34 points in only 49 games with Milwaukee. Late-season pick-up Calle Jarnkrok chipped in only nine points, but in six games of duty.
There were a variety of sources for the goaltending, as they had three goalies who appeared in 20-or-more games. While Marek Mazanec played the most with 31 appearances, the time that another prospect Magnus Hellberg got in net– it wasn’t as big a success, with only five wins in 21 appearances. Scott Darling covered up for Mazanec when Mazanec was called-up with 13 wins in 26 appearances.
While not the most offensive as some other defensemen, Joe Piskula served his team well in his own zone, being very solid in his own end. However, on the power play; Joe Bitetto was tops on the blueline, putting up six power play goals, which accounted for more than half of his 11 goals on the year. Bryan Rodney also provided some offensive spark for Milwaukee with 29 assists on the year.
Leading Scorers: Miikka Salomaki (20g, 30a), Taylor Beck (17g, 32a), Austin Watson (22g, 24a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: When trying to figure this out, I went to my friend Kristopher Martel of The Predatorial to figure out who would be on the Milwaukee to Nashville shuttle. According to Martel, the prime forwards will be Colton Sissons, Miikka Salomaki, Filip Forsberg, and Calle Jarnkrok, that’s if the latter two don’t make Nashville outright. While he has NHL experience, Marek Mazanec may not be ready for spot work, but due to Magnus Hellberg and Rob Madore not being NHL-caliber, Mazanec gets the call there. The blueline will be a little harder to crack, but they have Jonathan-Ismael Diaby, Johan Alm, and Garrett Noonan as the main guys to get looks, but Martel says that the training camp Mikko Vainonen has had, he could be a dark horse in the call-ups.
Outlook: Head coach Dean Evason said they’ll try to implement the system that Peter Laviolette has in Nashville, which is great for the guys who will be spending time in Nashville, but overall– could cause a little trouble for guys who are in Milwaukee all year. They’ll need to get the most of guys like Salomaki and Forsberg if they’re going to be on the shuttle to and from, but if their goaltending is as on-point as last year, they should be able to be in that lower-tier of playoff teams for the upcoming season.
CINCINNATI CYCLONES (Split with Florida)
Affiliate Since: 2007-08
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 274 miles
Last Season: 41-23-4-4, 2nd in North Division, 5th in Eastern Conference
It was quite a season for the Cyclones, who made the Kelly Cup Finals, though losing to the Alaska Aces in the end. The Cyclones also led the league in goals, with Anthony Luciani and Jonathan Hazen leading the way, though scoring was all around the line-up with 10 players in double digits in goals. Taylor Aronson lead the way for the defense, as he chipped in 38 points in 65 games with the Cyclones. Aiding Aronson was Mike Dalhuisen, who came over for Stockton in a trade and added some grit and muscle to the Cyclones line-up.
However, the story could have been Rob Madore’s play in the playoffs, as he was the first player from a losing team to win the Playoff MVP award. Though he only had 17 wins in the regular season, Madore carried the Cyclones with 14 wins in 24 games during the playoffs with a .930 save percentage during the run.
Leading Scorers: Anthony Luciani (25g, 28a), Jonathan Hazen (22g, 29a), Paul Crowder (16g, 32a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: Byron Froese may see some time going between the AHL and the ECHL as he is on an ECHL-only contract right now. Madore will most likely be shuttled to and from Milwaukee, while Michael Neal could see some AHL time if he can succeed in Cincinnati.
Outlook: Long time Cyclone defenseman Chris Reed will lead the way next year for the Cyclones, while captain David MacDonald will be return as well. They will be missing their three leading scorers from last year, but with the depth the Cyclones seem to always bring in, they should be easily able to fill the void left.