For those who follow the Nashville Predators, there are plenty of familiar names in Milwaukee (AHL) who are trying to earn their way to an NHL roster. Defenseman Ryan Ellis
is one, as are forwards Ryan Thang
and Chris Mueller
, both of whom have spent some time with the Preds.
But ask Admirals coach Kirk Muller to name a couple who are under the radar, and he quickly points to two: forwards Ryan Flynn
and Mark Van Guilder.
“They have been the most consistent forwards for us since day one,” Muller said. “Both are guys who don’t get talked about as much. I don’t think they’ve had a bad game yet. They know the identity of their game, they’re dependable, they’re smart defensive-type forwards. They are our top penalty killing guys and are right there against some of the top lines, usually. And they punch in a little bit offensively. They are the two hidden guys for us up front who are our unsung heroes, so to speak, right now.”
Van Guilder, 27, is currently on an AHL-only contract. He has five points (one goal, four assists) in eight games.
Flynn, 23, has two assists in eight games. He was drafted by Nashville in the sixth round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. After a four-year career at University of Minnesota, Flynn opened eyes during Nashville's 2010 Training Camp and his steady defensive play made him a key piece of Milwaukee's division title last season. He draws comparisons to Jerred Smithson, both physically (both are 6-foot-3 and around 210 pounds) and stylistically on the ice.As a side note, congrats to Ryan Thang on his NHL debut this week. Thang was recalled for Nashville's game at Chicago on Monday (Oct. 31) and skated 8:32. He nearly missed out on his first career NHL point when made a tape-to-tape outlet pass to spring Francis Bouillon for a breakaway out of the penalty box in the first period.
Here’s a look at some other prospects excelling in other leagues across the globe…Canadian Hockey League
F Brent Andrews
(Halifax, QMJHL) posted four points in three games last week. A seventh round pick by the Preds in this summer's draft, Andrews has opened the season with 12 points and a +7 rating in 13 games.
F David Elsner
(Ste. Sault Marie, OHL) scored two goals and one assist over three games last week. A seventh round pick in the 2010 draft, Elser is adjusting through his first season of North American hockey after spending the last two seasons in the German professional system.
D Charles-Olivier Roussel
(Saint John, QMJHL) is tied for second in the QMJHL in +/- rating (+19). He has 10 points in 10 games, including three goals.NCAA
C Chase Balisy
(Western Michigan) is tied for seventh in the CCHA in points (nine) and is tied for fifth in conference assists (six).
RW Zach Budish
(U. of Minnesota) picked up anothe three points in last weekend's two-game series and is now tied for eighth in the WCHA in power-play goals (two), and tied for 11th in assists (six).European Prospect Scoring
D Simon Karlsson
(Malmo) is tied for seventh in the Swedish Junior League (Sodra Conf.) in assists (11) and is second in points among blueliners (14)."He's a real smooth puck moving defenseman. This year will be real good for him. He'll be able to play a lot of hockey and work on his conditioning and add some weight. Right now he's just a tall thin kid and he's got to get some muscle on him. I think it's just maturity and time with him; he's elite with his passing skills and his instincts. It just takes time for him to build the strength to defend against men." -- Preds Assistant GM Paul Fenton
LW Miikka Salomaki
(Karpat, Finland) is tied for ninth in SM-Liiga in goals (seven)."Salomaki's off to a great start. I got some film on him the other day from Janne Kekalainen, our Finnish scout, who continues to rave about him and how much his game has taken off. Our guys did a great job of identifying him and making sure we were able to grab him where we did in the second round." -- Preds Assistant GM Paul Fenton