Norfolk is linked up with Nashville. What happens to the players from last year?
Much fanfare is to be made of the Nashville Predators teaming up with the Norfolk Admirals for the coming season. It’s one of the best fits available (the best fit will always be Washington), and the organization is on a very positive upswing. The future looks bright. As the season wound down, there were reasons for optimism on the Admirals roster. With the change of affiliation, some fans might wonder where the players will go.
Unlike the Tampa/Anaheim change, there will not necessarily be a max exodus of players from one team to another. ECHL teams typically have players in three categories: players signed to ECHL deals with the team (John Dunbar); players signed to AHL contracts, but assigned to the team (T.J. Foster); and players with NHL contracts assigned to the team (Philippe Desrosiers). Norfolk has control over what happens to John Dunbar. As the team’s second-leading scorer, management would likely want to protect him. They would then add him to the season-ending roster and try to re-sign him for next year. At the very least, they would try to qualify him.
T.J. Foster is currently under contract to the Toronto Marlies, the AHL affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ultimately, the decision is between Foster and the Marlies as to how to proceed with his future. His most probably decision is free agency, and it would be hard to rule out Europe. Norfolk would love to have their leading scorer back, of course, and try to re-sign him once he becomes an all-world free agent sometime in the summer. This also applies to Joey Benik, who’s on an AHL deal with the Condors. He became a valuable part of the Ads before a late-season call-up to Bakersfield. When his deal expires, he could choose to re-sign with Norfolk if offered. However, there is the chance Bakersfield (and Edmonton) want to re-sign him. If he becomes a free agent, the affiliation does not matter.
Phillipe Desrosiers is the last example. Desrosiers was the best goaltender for the Admirals last year, arriving in Norfolk after an exodus from the Dallas Stars’ proper affiliations in Idaho and Cedar Park, Texas. Unlike Zach Pochiro, an Edmonton signee, Desrosiers was from another organization and landed in the place of best fit. He’s going to go wherever the Stars feel it necessary to move him. However, the Nashville Predators will supply the Admirals with players on ELCs. The one note of similarity is that you should not expect the entire team to made of ELCs and Milwaukee contracts. You will see that similarity to the Edmonton years, because that’s a fact of existence in the ECHL. Most of the team will comprise Admirals contracts, and many might be your favorites, like Dom “Do The Math” Alberga, Paul “P-Rod” Rodrigues, and Nick MacNeil. Expect the team to sign a number of different free agents over the summer.