Sorry for not getting to the Assessments posts when I said I would. I am a terrible person for that, I say to myself. I figure those can wait for right now, as the offseason is long and boring. With the Free Agent Funtime Bonanza! happening this week, it’s a good time to look at who is staying and who is going in Norfolk and Anaheim.
Since this blog is dedicated to the Norfolk Admirals, it’s more focused on who will be playing in Scope come October. To figure that out, however, we must figure out who is definitely guaranteed a place in Anaheim. I’ll be using my two favorite websites, CapGeek.com and EliteProspects. Both will be instrumental in figuring out the depth chart. Let’s use the old adage and go from the Net Out.
Anaheim feels good with their goal situation, from the top down. Hiller remains entrenched as the starter, with pleasant surprise Viktor Fasth in a 1-B role after earning a 2-year extension with the Ducks. Frederik Andersen, Igor Bobkov, and John Gibson will be vying for time in Norfolk this year, save for emergency call-ups. Okay, Bobber and Gibson will be trying to back-up Freddie. Hiller is making $4.5 million this year and is very likely to be let go next year–that’s next year.
Admirals losses from 2012-13: None, really
Francois Beauchemin-Sheldon Souray
Luca Sbisa-Cam Fowler
Ben Lovejoy-Sami Vatanen
Ads fans will get their first sigh of disappointment when they see Sami Vatanen projected in my top 6 for the Ducks. With fellow Finn Toni Lydman being let go, a spot opened up for a new defenseman. Vatanen can fill that void while adding a dose of Power Play firepower with his shot. Bryan Allen, who signed with the Ducks last summer, did not play himself into a job and will probably be a 7th D-man. It would not surprise me, though, to see Allen in the opening night line-up if Francois Beauchemin is still recovering from ACL surgery.
EliteProspects also has Kyle Cumiskey listed a defenseman for the Ducks. Cumiskey spent last year playing for MODO in Sweden and the year before that with the Crunch. He’s not listed anywhere on CapGeek, yet. I think he’s headed back to play for the Admirals.
Admirals Losses: Sami Vatanen. The Finnish Firepower finally brings his game to the NHL on a full-time basis.
Kyle Palmieri – Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Jakob Silfverberg-Nick Bonino-Teemu Selanne
Daniel Winnik-Saku Koivu-Emerson Etem
Matt Beleskey-Peter Holland-Andrew Cogliano
Extras: Staubitz, Maroon
Okay, I’m assuming a lot here. The two biggest assumptions being Teemu returning for what would likely be his last season and Peter Holland earning the 4C spot. Teemu signing creates a logjam at the wing spots, granted it’s a nice logjam. Pat Maroon, who signed a 2-year, 1-way with the Ducks goes to being at best an extra with the Ducks. If Teemu DOESN’T sign, i wouldn’t be surprised to see a Beleskey-Holland-Maroon line (move Etem and Cogs up a line from that chart). If you’re a Ducks fan, the most notable loss is Devante Smith-Pelly. After having a decent rookie season in 11-12, Devo found himself working on his game in Norfolk. Anaheim doesn’t have that many spots, and I can see Boudreau wanting DSP to continue to improve. Given the cap situation, I think he might be back full-time in Anaheim in 2014-15.
While those are the forwards I’m projecting for the Ducks, the team may not be done yet. Mikhail Grabovski is still an attractive option at center, though he might be out of the price range of the team. A guy I could see them bringing back is David Steckel, to man the 4th line, effectively sending Holland back to Norfolk.
Admirals Losses: Etem and Palmieri were as good as gone when the lockout ended. Pat Maroon may or may not go, the same with Peter Holland. A pretty sizeable chunk.
Igor Bobkov/John Gibson
Goalie will be the easiest thing for me to write about in the Admirals depth chart projection. After finishing the year with the highest SV% in the AHL and just being all around #Andersensational (credit to Pete Michaud)
, the Danish netminder is no doubt the clear #1 goalie for the Ads. The back-up situation is a bit more complicated. Igor Bobkov clearly has more experience in the AHL, yet his potential is not as great as Gibson’s. Bobber had his moments last year, and was pretty decent in the shootout. Unfortunately, he lacked a lot of the consistency you would get out of Andersen. He is probably fighting for his job. Gibson is remarkable, and might be the best American prospect right now, regardless of position. His last season was stellar, especially internationally. He was the best goaltender and MVP at the World Junior Championships and helped the US win World Championship Bronze after he took the starting job from Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. It will be an interesting battle to watch.
Hampus Lindholm-Mat Clark
Kevin Gagne-Nolan Yonkman
Andrew O’Brien-Alex Grant
ex: Cumiskey (?), Stefan Warg
Quick precaution: ignore the lines and pairings for the Forwards and Defense. I’m just doing that so it’s easier to manage who is and is not on the team. Since this is the AHL, the team was going to look different this year anyhow. Starting, I have Hampus Lindholm and Mat Clark. Both players proved to be reliable players with Clark being more of a stay-at-home guy and Lindholm adding a bit more offensive touch. Hampus, who was a top-10 draft pick in 2012, is still young and has time to develop in Norfolk. A plus (not plus/minus) for him would be staying healthy and avoiding another concussion after the two he sustained last year. Next up, I have Kevin Gagne and Stefan Warg. Gagne is pretty much a lock because he is done with junior hockey and is starting his Entry-Level Contract (ELC) after a brief try-out at the end of last season. Hopefully, Gagne can replicate (or at least come close to) Vatanen’s offense.
Next up, I have Stefan Warg, who Elite Prospects has on the Admirals. He spent last year with Vasteras of Sweden’s Allsvenskan, their second-tier league. Warg does not look like much of a scorer and hey I like this pairing I just made with Gagne! Warg is not a stranger to North American ice as he played his junior hockey with Seattle and Prince Albert in the WHL. This would be a change for him at least. Next is the “third pairing” I’ve made up. Andrew O’Brien is in a similar position as Gagne. O’Brien just finished his career in the Q and is about to start his ELC. He’ll be developing here. My final defenseman is Alex Grant. The former W-B/S Pen came over in the Harry Zolnierczyk trade during the offseason. He’s a career AHLer and will be with the Ads for a “veteran” presence.
You’ll notice I listed Kyle Cumiskey. The former Av (and Cruncher) is property of the Ducks, and they don’t have a lot of space in Anaheim. I could see him playing in Norfolk due to roster size and contract. Now to (the possible lack of) goal scorers!
Addendum: Remember everything I said about Warg? Probably a good thing but who knows if he’ll crack the lineup. Instead, let’s talk about recently signed (according to the Internet (thanks, Shawn!)) Nolan Yonkman! He’s old for an AHLer, doesn’t really score, and was captain in both Milwaukee and San Antonio. The Ads should have kept Nate Guenin, he kinda did all those things.
Max Friberg-Rickard Rakell-Devante Smith-Pelly
John Kurtz-Joseph Cramarossa-Stefan Noesen
John Mitchell-Steven Whitney-Chris Wagner
Zack Stortini-Charlie Sarault-Antoine Laganiere
Please remember to ignore the lines. They’re not a reflection of projected lines, just an easy visual to assess where the Admirals are at. Where there at is…nowhere good. You’ll see that I put DSP down in Norfolk, as I mentioned in the Anaheim forwards post. While most of that hinges on Teemu signing, Devo could possibly be back if the Finnish Flash decides to finally retire. Max Friberg is another ELC guy who saw some time at the end of last year with the Ads. Rickard Rakell is a former first round draft pick who spent most of last year with the Plymouth Whalers, with some spot appearances in Anaheim at the beginning of the NHL season. Rakell’s junior career is also over, and he will hopefully be a goal-scoring center in development. While I don’t see it happening, Rakell might beat out Peter Holland for the 4C spot in Anaheim.
The second line starts off with John Kurtz, and yes he’s a PKer. Again, just for visual cues. Kurtzy finally got to sign an ELC (of one-year!) with the Ducks, which means he MIGHT get a shot at the show. He’ll mostly be a mainstay in Norfolk and continue working on being that fan favorite (and possibly Captain). Joseph Cramarossa is once again, an ELC guy who just finished his junior career. Looking at his stats, he was a teammate with DSP in Mississauga, which is fun trivia I guess. While he may be able to add offense, Charlie Sarault may have him beat. On the right, I’ve got Stefan Noesen. If that name’s familiar, it’s because he was the prospect in the Bobby Ryan trade. Noesen played with Rakell in Plymouth, and perhaps we’ll see that line combo this fall.
John Mitchell is one of a few vets returning to the Admirals. While I wouldn’t call his game exciting, he can score on occasion and is defensively pretty solid. At center is Boston College product Steven Whitney, who had a brief ATO with the Ads at the end of last year. He scored 4 points in 8 games with Norfolk, which sample size. He is a bit undersized at 5’7″. On the right is Chris Wagner, who is another vet after one whole year of AHL play. Wagner can play either wing or center and is a great two-way player. He’ll be utilized in different ways and at least offers some stability to the team.
When I first started writing this post, I had ‘Veteran/PTO” as the Left Wing and guess what, I was right! Zack Stortini signed today (7/7), another addition to the Admirals roster. He played 77 games for the Oilers and scored a whole 13 points! The Oilers would then go on to select Taylor Hall with the #1 pick in the NHL Draft. We got ourselves a punchman! PL3 scored more points in less games but punchman!
Charlie Sarault takes up the final center spot, though I could see him moving up. He was the best overage in the OHL last year, mounting up points even after Alex Galchenyuk (he’s ok) moved on to the NHL. Sarault had a decent showing with the Ads in his ATO, getting 6 assists in 11 games and getting some PP time. He’ll get more opportunities coming up. On the right, I have Yale product Antoine Laganiere. He signed after Yale won the Frozen Four, and did not get to skate for either the Ducks or Admirals. He did, however, have 29 points in 37 games. Hopefully some offense!
Next year’s Norfolk Admirals team is not complete by a longshot. More camps will happen and PTOs and ATOs will be signed. I’d expect a few more guys to be in there. I really don’t understand the logic behind dumping Josh Brittain and say PL3 for a punchman. My projected roster is young but with a lot of definite potential. At least we’ll be good in net. I’m sure I missed something, so let me know @Heaf_ or @BeneathScope.