Joakim Kemell, the young 18-year-old Finnish winger, has been making waves in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Milwaukee Admirals this season. With a keen eye for space and a deadly shot, Kemell has been one of the AHL’s most exciting young players to end the regular season, ranking ninth in the league in win-share percentage for players 21 years old or younger (as of April 23rd, 2023). But with the NHL offseason looming, some Preds fans are asking: will Kemell make the jump to the Predators roster this coming season, or will he continue his development in the AHL? Let’s dive into this question a bit. There is no denying that Kemell’s skill set is impressive. He has a knack for finding open space and positioning himself for scoring opportunities, and his shooting ability is top-notch. He’s not afraid to get creative with the puck and take on defenders, making him an entertaining player to watch. Despite being 5’11”, Kemell plays with a lot of jump, physicality, and more grit than most people give him credit for. Even though he’s been having impressive AHL performances, there are still concerns about Kemell’s readiness for the NHL. The Nashville Predators have a history of being patient with young prospects in the organization, giving them time to develop in the AHL for long periods of time. Kemell is still adjusting to North American ice after playing in Finland his entire career, and depending on how he performs in the Calder playoffs this year and the regular season next year, he may need another season in the AHL before jumping to the NHL to fully adjust and refine his skills on an American rink.
The Predators will have a lot of players vying for a spot on the wing next season. Veterans like Mark Jankowski, Michael McCarron, Cole Smith, and Keifer Sherwood will all be fighting for a spot, and that’s not even including young players such as Egor Afanasyev, Luke Evangelista, and Phil Tomasino. All these players will be in the mix for the last few wing spots on the roster, and a few very talented players arent going to make the cut. Given Nashville’s tendency to let young players develop in the AHL, it’s unlikely that Kemell will get the nod over these more experienced players. That being said, Kemell’s performance in the AHL this season has been encouraging, and he has proved that he could adapt to North American ice and excel in a smaller rink. His ability to score goals and make plays will undoubtedly catch the attention of Nashville’s coaching staff in training camp and preseason. While it’s unlikely he’ll make the roster next season, the future looks bright for this young Finnish star.