An interesting piece of news came across the wire Tuesday night: the Milwaukee Admirals have signed forward Brad Winchester to a pro tryout contract. Winchester is expected to suit up for the Admirals immediately.
Why is this an interesting move by the Predators’ organization?
Winchester, who was released from a pro tryout by Calgary, is a veteran forward that has been around the block. He has seven NHL seasons under his belt. He has playoff experience with five different teams, including the 2006 Edmonton Oilers who advanced to the final and the 2011 Anaheim Ducks who faced Nashville in the first round.
Winchester is also a 6-foot-5 forward that has no problem throwing his weight around. In his career he has 68 points in 390 games with 552 penalties in minutes. But I wouldn’t tag him as an enforcer, per se. As someone who constantly toes the line of dirty and clean (proven here and here), he often gets under the opponent’s skin and always sticks up for his teammates.
Winchester will turn 32 years old in March, but he can help the Predators if he impresses in Milwaukee. As a comparison, on the surface it would appear Winchester is a better option on the fourth line or as a spare forward than Richard Clune, who has seen a total of 13 shifts in his first two Predators games.
Though Winchester has never averaged more than 12 minutes of ice time per game in a single season, he can play the penalty kill and provide the energy Clune (or Brian McGrattan) puts forth. And you know Winchester will be determined to parlay this tryout into an NHL opportunity, whether it’s in Nashville or not, after not receiving a contract following the lockout.
Now, Winchester is a Madison, Wisc., native, so this could simply be a chance for him to play some games close to home. He may not even be in the Predators’ plans for the NHL level.
But this move by Milwaukee does provide some food for thought because the Predators could use some immediate depth. While one would like that depth to have more of an offensive upside, Winchester is someone that could be turned to as a plug-in (or perhaps an upgrade) in the role Clune and McGrattan currently fill.