Looking toward next year
Norfolk’s defensemen right now are: Jordan Hill, the Captain; Wes Cunningham, a late-season trade; Cole Martin, traded for a guy who never played a game as an Admiral; Samuel Noreau, a Rangers RFA who will not see a qualifying offer; and Davis Vandevane, who came from a trade for Janick Asselin. If you counted, that puts the Admirals at five defenders going into their weekend road trip. The team is without its three best blueliners in Gabriel Verpaelst (PTO with the Stockton Heat), Ben Betker (recalled by Bakersfield), and Nick Pageau (also recalled by Bakersfield). No moves have been announced yet.
Injuries happen-Brandon Davidson’s journey to the IR meant Pageau had to leave-but there needs to be a better fail-safe in place. Edmonton’s mismanagement throughout the organization is somewhat apparent, though they seem to be making half-decent moves at the top level. Norfolk has had to play shorthanded in many games this year, several times with five defensemen. It’s a shame, because the team turned a corner in the new year and played a good bit of competitive hockey. They’re still a one-zone team: offense. Watching the team try to get out of their own zone is a struggle, and they still make defensive mistakes. I think some of this can be pinned on the constant rearranging of lineups, but some of it might be assistant coach Ben Boudreau.
Biggest transaction of the weekend may be the loss of Scott Allen. The rookie has put up impressive numbers this season, becoming one of the most impressive scoring threats on the team. A broken hand likely keeps him out for the season. Perhaps it’s okay, this team isn’t going to make the playoffs.