September 28, 2013 - save the date. The Admirals begin their season at home with an exhibition game against the Charlotte Checkers. While the official season opener is October 5th in Hartford, and the home opener on the 11th, this match against the Checkers makes the wait a bit more bearable. This season marks 25 years of Admirals hockey, and could end up being a very important year as far as players moving up to the Ducks.
At this point, if you haven't seen Teemu Selanne's return announcement video, we can only assume you've been living under a rock. Having Selanne back is for another year is amazing! Hopefully he'll see sixth Olympic games as he deserves to have that distinction.
Though with Teemu's return, it leads to questions. How many "one more year" agreements does he have left? Will his retirement coincide with teammate and fellow countryman Saku Koivu? What happens when he does finally retire? What if Koivu and Selanne retire at the same time? Who moves up? Do we have anyone who is ready? Will a trade be required to fill voids?
With several of the players who played with the Admirals during the lockout last season being listed on the Ducks roster for the upcoming season, things seem to be looking thin in Norfolk. This isn't a bad thing at all, though sad for those of us in the Norfolk area. After Emerson Etem's breakthrough performance for the Ducks in 2013 (3-7=10 regular season points and 3-2=5 points in the post season), I'd say he has done the Admirals proud. His ascension leaves a void in the Admirals line up. Who will break through?
The Admirals have yet to release this year's roster and it will be interesting to see which, if any, of the draft picks come to town. Rookie camp, currently being held in Anaheim, should start the formation of the Admirals' roster. 11 of the 18 players slated for camp are last year's Admirals.
Adding to the mix is John Gibson's recent invitation to the US Olympic Orientation Camp. He is the only AHL player to be named to the list of invitees despite having just 40 minutes of ice time as an Admiral. If he starts the season off well, he could very well see himself in a US Olympic sweater alongside Ducks players Cam Fowler and Kyle Palmieri. A successful year with the Admirals coupled with a strong showing in Socchi, could give the Ducks something to think about at the end of the season.
Viktor Fasth and Jonas Hiller are both 31 and still playing well. Hiller's $4.5M contract expires at the close of this season and Fasth is entering the first year of his two year extension at $2.9M. With nothing currently being mentioned regarding extension talks for Hiller, one would conclude that there is much contemplation in Anaheim. Could the Ducks be sitting on their eggs? (pun intended) Perhaps a blockbuster deal is in the works. At this point there's no telling what's coming but rest assured this season will yield big things, both on and off the ice.
The final question is one of communication. Today the Admirals officially named their new Director of Communications. He is not local and not currently a part of the organization. How will that translate into his readiness to go between clubs?
As hockey fans we know the off season is expected to have ups and downs. With the season this close and things so uncertain, fans are getting a bit antsy in these parts. Only time will tell what happens and there isn't much more waiting to be done. In the hashtag words of @NHL, #IsItOctoberYet? (OK that was more than one final question, sue me.)