Admirals Training Camp Opens As Predators Slim Roster To 27

This morning, the Milwaukee Admirals take to the ice for the first time in their 10-day training camp. Due to player cuts yesterday in Nashville, the Predators’ AHL affiliate is shaping up to have a very strong roster.

Players sent packing Tuesday included forwards Kelsey Wilson, Nick Spaling, Matt Halischuk and Linus Klasen. Defensemen Grant Lewis and Brett Palin were also cut from the Nashville roster. Forward Andreas Thuresson and defenseman Teemu Laakso cleared waivers and were also sent down. Goaltender Chet Pickard is the second of the four goalies who were vying for the backup job in Nashville to be sent packing. Pickard dressed for Monday night’s game against the Atlanta Thrashers but Predators starter Pekka Rinne stayed in net the entire game.

Brentwood native, Blake Geoffrion had been sent down to Milwaukee on Monday. Other notable prospects include defensemen Jonathon Blum and Roman Josi as well as Ryan Flynn and Gabriel Bourque.

DETROIT - APRIL 10: Blake Geoffrion #5 of the Wisconsin Badgers looks on before a face off against the Boston College Eagles during the championship game of the 2010 NCAA Frozen Four on April 10, 2010 at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Out of college and in the AHL, Geoffrion stays in Wisconsin (Photo: Yardbarker.com)

Defenseman Ryan Ellis was not eligible for the American Hockey League because of an agreement in place between the NHL and the Canadian Hockey League. If a player is still junior eligible and does not crack the opening night roster, he plays junior. This is the fate of Ryan Ellis, the 19 year old who has won back to back Memorial Cup Championships with the Windsor Spitfires.

Jim Diamond of The Examiner wrote a very nice piece describing the emotional day Ellis went through today. It’s well worth a read.

None of the demotions are terribly shocking. Linus Klasen was blindsided on the ice with an elbow to the face by Chris Clackson during a game played in Florida against the Panthers prospects. Klasen has not played since and simply didn’t have a chance to make a run at a roster spot. Hopefully he gets healthy and will position himself to be called up if needed.

Though not terribly shocking, it has got to be disappointing for Matt Halischuk to not make the cut. Halischuk had played a fantastic camp, won the praise of the coaching staff, and scored the Predators only goal in a 2-1 loss against the Washington Capitals Saturday night. But at the end of the day, Halischuck plays at the right wing position, a position the Predators are not lacking in. With Patric Hornqvist, Martin Erat, JP Dumont, Jordin Tootoo, not to mention Jerred Smithson and Jonas Andersson all listed at right wing, what other outcome could we possibly have expected?

NEWARK, NJ - NOVEMBER 25: Jesse Winchester #18 and Alexandre Picard #45 of the Ottawa Senators defend against Matt Halischuk #16 of the New Jersey Devils at the Prudential Center on November 25, 2009 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Halischuk, #16 for the Devils, likely to be a midseason call-up to Nashville (Photo: Yardbarker.com)

For anyone in the Milwaukee area, all on-ice practices are open to the public and are free. A schedule of events can be found here.

For Predators fans keeping track, today’s moves bring Nashville’s roster down to 27 players.

One battle that remains is who will back Rinne when the puck drops October 9th in Smashville. Mark Dekanich and Anders Lindback remain at camp. Based on shots saved and overall impressiveness, currently, the edge has to be given to Lindback but with two games remaining, we can probably expect to see both Dekanich and Lindback play a portion of a game for that last opportunity to impress.

We should also expect to see Rinne in goal on Sunday afternoon for the entire contest. The game in Washington will be the Predators’ last game until the home opener the following weekend.

There are 8 defensemen still at camp. Five spots are guaranteed, the sixth is somewhat guaranteed and the real fight is who will be Nashville’s 7th defensemen. If Monday night’s pairings are a prediction on what the opening night roster will look like, Shea Weber and Ryan Suter will once again be paired together. Francis Bouillon will be paired with Kevin Klein. The two were put together for brief periods of time last year when the miscommunication between Klein and former Predator Dan Hamhuis led to the pair being a defensive liability. The final pairing looks like it could be Cody Franson and Ryan Parent. This leaves Aaron Johnson and Alexander Sulzer fighting for 7th spot. Both would require to clear waivers if sent down to Milwaukee.

NASHVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 26: Defenseman Alexander Sulzer #52 of the Nashville Predators skates against forward Rod Brind'Amour #17 of the Carolina Hurricanes during a pre-season NHL game at the Sommet Center on September 26, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
Can Sulzer maintain his position as the No. 7 defenseman? (Photo: Yardbarker.com)

Up front, the Predators still have 16 forwards left at camp. Monday night’s line combination gave fans a first look at what the season might entail offensively. Colin Wilson, Matthew Lombardi, and Martin Erat skated well together and might be a look at our top line. Sergei Kostitsyn, David Legwand and Joel Ward were great as a line. If they keep skating the way they did against Atlanta, Jerred Smithson will have officially been replaced as the final member of the line expected to both score and shut down the opposing team’s best forwards.

Patric Hornqvist and Steve Sullivan should be kept together and are looking for their center. Goc perhaps? Will O’Reilly really make the jump to full-time NHL player? Furthermore, does JP Dumont really get stuck on the fourth line with Jordin Tootoo and Jerred Smithson? That doesn’t seem right either. But who would get bumped from the top 2 lines to make room for Dumont? This leaves Wade Belak, who traditionally is a healthy scratch unless he is needed for muscle or someone got hurt or is sick and we didn’t call anyone up. And what happens to Jonas Andersson and Jamie Lundmark?

With 16 forwards and only 12 spots open, plus Belak, something or someone has got to give. But who?

The Predators return to action tonight for their fifth of six preseason games in a rematch of Monday night’s contest against the Atlanta Thrashers at Philips Arena. The puck drops at 6 p.m. You can listen to the game on the radio on 102.9-FM The Buzz.

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Tags: Atlanta Thrashers Chet Pickard J.P. Dumont Jonas Andersson Linus Klasen Marcek Goc Matt Haliscuk Milwaukee Admirals Nashville Predators NHL Nick Spaling Patric Hornqvist Pekka Rinne Steve Sullivan

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