Sportsnet’s Pat Steinberg is reporting that former Calgary Flames defender Kevin Gravel is heading to the Nashville Predators organization on a two-year deal. The team will also add AHL Defenseman of the Year Jordan Gross on a two-year deal, according to his agency Bartlett Hockey. Lastly, a third minor-league defenseman joins Nashville in Roland McKeown, who Chris Johnston reports signed a two-year deal.
The first player signed, Gravel, is a big defender with a wealth of professional experience. He has 109 NHL games to his name and has occupied a priority call-up role for the past several seasons. This past season Gravel spent the year with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, registering 14 points in 59 games. Gravel ranked third on the Heat in average time-on-ice per game and saw heavy usage on the team’s penalty kill. That should be the sort of role Gravel plays in the Nashville organization, serving as an important AHL defensive defenseman as well as a safe call-up option in case they run into major injury issues.
The second player is undrafted Notre Dame product Gross, the AHL’s reigning defenseman of the year. Gross is an undersized defenseman who has excelled as an offensive blueliner at the AHL level. He had 65 points in 61 games and 10 points in nine playoff games. Gross operated as the Colorado Eagles’ number-one defenseman and saw significant time on both the power play and penalty kill. If he’s paired with Gravel, he should have even more freedom to act as an offensive generator and could have an even better AHL year than the brilliant one he just finished.
The final signing, Roland McKeown, also comes from the Colorado Eagles, where he played after spending 2020-21 in the SHL. McKeown was the Eagles’ number-four defenseman and featured heavily on their penalty kill. A similar role for him as an AHL top-four defenseman and penalty kill anchor is likely in store for him with the Milwaukee Admirals.