After wrapping up a four-year collegiate career at Bowling Green State University, defenseman Adam Smith was ready to turn pro. While the Nashville Predators were not prepared to offer the 2016 seventh-round pick an entry-level contract, the invisible hand of the market still guided Smith to the organization. The Predators’ AHL affiliate, the Milwaukee Admirals, announced a two-year AHL deal with Smith today. The contract will begin with 2019-20, as Smith finishes out this season on an amateur tryout offer. Smith, 22, is not much of an offensive asset on the blue line, but played an important role for Bowling Green en route to an NCAA Tournament appearance as a dependable defensive presence. If he continues to progress over a couple years in the minors, Smith could find himself with an NHL deal with Nashville down the road.
- Former Big Ten rivals Jack Sadek and Nick Boka have become teammates at the pro level this last month after the duo signed amateur tryouts with the AHL’s Iowa Wild. The defense pair are both recent draft picks of the Minnesota Wild – Boka in the sixth round out of the University of Michigan and Sadek in the seventh round out of the University of Minnesota, both in 2015 – but did not do quite enough in their college tenures to earn entry-level contracts right away. Instead, they were asked to show that they were worthy of a continued investment by the Wild, starting with a stint with the ECHL’s Allen Americans. Now, both players have been recalled by Iowa as the first step toward getting closer to an NHL deal. Both Sadek and Boka are right-handed shots with good size who improved over their four years in college, so there is a lot to like about the prospects. However, they both have work to do to earn an extended look with the organization.
- The AHL may have another “true rookie” to look forward to next season. USHL standout Egor Afanasyev, who many see as a fringe first-round pick in the upcoming NHL Draft, appears destined to follow in the footsteps of fellow imports like Klim Kostin and Martin Kaut by jumping right to the pro level next year. Afanasyev de-committed from Michigan State University earlier this year and has not been looking to join another college program next season. Meanwhile, he was drafted into the OHL by the Ottawa 67’s and had his rights traded to the Windsor Spitfires this season, but there has been little to no talk of him joining the junior squad. Instead, the Russian-born power forward clearly prefers to play in the AHL next season. He does have the size to do so; Afansyev stands 6’3″ and over 200 lbs. and plays with an edge to match. He also has the skill, as he has scored at better than a point-per-game clip this season for the Muskegon Lumberjacks and the deeper analytics indicate he has been even better than that. Ultimately, the team that drafts Afanasyev will decide on what the best next step would be in his development, but as his draft stock continues to rise it is becoming increasingly likely that he makes his pro debut in 2019-20.