Predators AHL/UHL prospects season review

By Robin Thompson

The Predators had 12 prospects who played for the AHL‘s Milwaukee Admirals and the UHL‘s Colonial Cup Champion Rockford IceHogs.

Milwaukee Admirals

The Milwaukee Admirals were a top ten overall team in the AHL this year, finishing with 96 points.  Placing third in the Western Conference’s West Division and ending the year with a 3-0-0-1 streak, Head Coach Claude Noel’s club was bounced in the first round of the playoffs. 

Alexander Radulov‘s graduation to the Predators for good in November was warranted by his explosive start to the AHL season.  In the total 11 games he appeared in for Milwaukee, the dynamic sniper tallied 18 points including six in one game.  

Below is a review of the seasons of the rest of the Predators prospects.

Cal O’Reilly, C
5’11, 180 lbs
September 30, 1986
Drafted 150th overall, 2005

O’Reilly’s 65 points in 78 games this year were second on the Admirals and sixth among AHL rookies.  A terrible month of January in which he was -13, led to his low -11 rating.  Like most rookies, he was a little inconsistent. He had two streaks in which he did not register a point in four games during the season, yet also enjoyed a run of eight games to end the AHL campaign, totaling 13 points.  The playoffs weren’t kind to the Ads, but the center posted three points in the four games.

Involving himself in the offensive zone, O’Reilly has the vision to feed open teammates.  However, he will need to devote some effort to the defensive aspect of his game.  He will likely flourish with first-line ice time in Milwaukee next year and improve his production.

Pekka Rinne, G
6’5, 207 lbs
November 3, 1982
Drafted 258th overall in 2004

Nashville started the season late because of a shoulder injury sustained in his native Finland during the summer that left him sidelined for much of the year.  In 29 games this season with the Admirals, he had a 15-7-0-6 record, a 2.34 GAA, and three shutouts.  All were superior to the previous year, and a jump in his save percentage statistic from .904 to .920 is encouraging. 

The Admirals lost three of their playoff games by a score of 3-2, and Rinne was quite tenuous in net, giving up a lot of rebounds. His playoff numbers were a pedestrian 0-4, .895 and 2.91. 

Rinne is a restricted free agent this offseason. 

Rich Peverley, C
6’0, 185 lbs
July 8, 1982
Signed as a free agent January 17, 2007

Peverley led the Admirals in scoring this year with 30 goals and 38 assists, despite playing in only 66 games.  This was an increase of 22 points over his rookie year with the Admirals.  He was signed to a Predators contract midway through the year and given fourth line and some special teams action on the big club, recording an assist and a -1 rating in 13 games.

He will most likely begin next year in Milwaukee.  His two-way play is valuable and a +9 rating was the best on the team.  If nothing more, he is a great depth forward and could easily fill a void for the Predators should injury problems arise.

Kevin Klein, D
6’1, 200 lbs
Dec 13, 1984
Drafted 37th overall in 2003

The native of Kitchener, Ontario is becoming the asset the Predators envisioned with maturation.  For the Admirals this season he was a dependable and tough defender, though his point production went down drastically. He scored five goals and 15 assists in 70 games this year and began the year quite slowly.  Klein was a minus player regularly until December when things turned around, finding him at +6 for the month and adding seven points.  Afterwards, he put up plus numbers, and had a three-game stint in Nashville in January. 

If Klein comes back to camp in great shape, he could challenge for a roster spot in Nashville.  He brings the benefits of youth and skill to the organization.  However, he would benefit from another season in Milwaukee on the top pairing, if inactive on the fringe. 

Ville Koistinen, D
5’11, 109 lbs
June 17, 1982
Signed as a free agent May 18, 2006

In his first AHL season, the native of Oulu, Finland was a consistent scoring threat from the blue line.  He put up 41 points in 59 games and earned a -4 rating along with 44 PIM.  Rare was the stretch in which he did not register a single point.  Koistinen logged eight multiple-point games during the season.  His minus rating was due mostly to a dismal month of February in which he was -6.  He was named to the AHL All-Star team as part of PlanetUSA and picked up an assist. 

In the team’s four playoff games, he picked up two assists and finished a +1.

An accurate point shot and hockey sense led Team Finland to beckon him to play in the recently completed World Hockey Championships.  He did not see much action and thus, did not record a point.  Koistinen has a nose for the net, with his shot totals approaching two per game. 

Koistinen is a restricted free agent this offseason.

John Vigilante, LW
6’0, 200 lbs
May 24, 1985
Signed as a free agent, December 7, 2005

Also a rookie in the AHL this year, Vigilante scored nine goals and 18 assists in 62 games and, and was -10.  He earned an assist in his very first AHL game and went on to record a point in his first three games.  His temperament kept him free of the penalty box, as he was only assessed 10 PIM all year.
The Predators will look for Vigilante to make an increase in his point production with Milwaukee next year.

Ryan Maki, RW
6’2, 203 lbs
April 23, 1985
Drafted 176th overall in 2005

Maki is a defensively responsible forward with size and a willingness to compete.  He appeared in two games for the Admirals during the regular season, notching his first professional point and skating away with an even rating.  He was also dressed for two games during the playoffs for the Admirals, and did not record a point or even a shot.

Fresh off four years at Harvard University, Maki has size, smarts and determination.  He is a good talent and will almost certainly play with the Admirals next year.

Kelsey Wilson, LW
6’1, 209 lbs
January 22, 1986
Signed as a free agent in 2006

Wilson led the Admirals on the ice this year with 215 PIM, and also contributed 19 points.  The defensive aspect of his game will need to improve however, as the -19 rating he achieved was the worst on the team. 

Wilson’s toughness and leadership are his role on the team.  Early last year he signed a three-year contract with the Predators, so he’ll continue to protect the prospects in Milwaukee a while longer.

Brandon Segal, RW
6’2, 210 lbs
July 12, 1983
Drafted 102nd overall in 2002

Segal is a tough combatant — a streaky scorer who plays with a chip on his shoulder and has good speed.  His 20 goals were second on the Admirals and is a valuable asset in the corners, cycling the puck.  His 84 PIM were far fewer than the 124 from the previous year.  He tallied two goals in a game versus the Chicago Wolves on March 17.  In four playoff games he was a -1 and scored one goal.

With the depth of the organization, Segal will be under contest for a roster spot.  His gritty play could be his greatest asset.

Rockford IceHogs (UHL)

The Rockford IceHogs as a team finished second in the West Division of the United Hockey League this year.  Their 48-21-7 record was impressive enough to also rank them third overall.  A nice combination of offense and defense they ranked third in both categories and were also the most penalized team in the UHL.

Good seeding and balance did wonders for setting up their fantastic playoff run, advancing to the Colonial Cup Championship.  They persevered in the final, edging the Kalamazoo Wings in Game 7, 3-1.

Paul Brown, LW
6’3, 193 lbs
July 21, 1984
Drafted 89th overall in 2003

Brown started the year with Milwaukee and put up six points in 25 games, 39 PIM and a -4 rating before being demoted to Rockford.  With Rockford he had seven goals, nine assists a +3 rating and 114 PIM in 26 games.  In the playoffs, he posted two points, 20 PIM and a +4 rating in 14 games.

Kaleb Betts, LW
5’11, 210 lbs
January 10, 1983
Drafted 235th overall in 2002

Betts’ 153 PIM was the third highest total on the IceHogs this year.  He is a rough-and-tumble type player that has also shown a penchant for staying in front of the net on the power play.  His 17 goals and 18 assists were accented by two game-winning goals and six power-play markers.  He was also a responsible +9.  During the playoff run for Rockford, he chipped in eight points, including three goals on the power play and another two game-winners.

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