Nashville Predators prospect Miikka Salomaki is fully recovered from shoulder surgery. The 22-year-old forward unfortunately saw his season get cut short last year due to a shoulder injury in March during an AHL game with the Milwaukee Admirals that required surgery. Seven months later, Salomaki says he is good to go for the 2015-16 season.
“It was frustrating, but it’s part of hockey,” said Salomaki of the injury. “You just need to handle them. [Afterwards] just go out and don’t think about it too much. [My shoulder] is doing good, right now. It’s normal now. The injury was over seven months ago, so it’s good, and I’m good to go.
“It’s nice to play hockey again. It’s been a long time.”
Likely the most frustrating part of Salomaki’s injury was the inability to play in Nashville on call-up. Salomaki appeared appeared in his first career NHL game last season on Jan. 8 against the Dallas Stars and scored his first career NHL goal. Of course, he vividly remembers the goal in front of a packed house inside Bridgestone Arena.
“It was awesome,” Salomaki said. “First, to play [for the Predators] was unreal, then it was home game with great fans and a great atmosphere. Then, I got a breakaway and scored. It was an unreal feeling.”
Salomaki’s path to his first NHL game was an eventful one. On Jan. 3, Salomaki traveled from Grand Rapids, Michigan to Los Angeles, California after being recalled by the Predators for an away game but did not dress. On Jan. 5, he was reassigned back to the AHL in Milwaukee. Three days later, he was recalled by Nashville to play his first NHL game. The next day, he was once again reassigned back to Milwaukee. He racked up travel miles to say the least.
“It was tiring, but I was just happy to get my first call-up,” Salomaki said.
With a little taste of the NHL already in Salomaki’s mouth, he is seeking more. He is among a handful of players in Milwaukee poised for an NHL call-up at some point this season.
“It’s always the goal,” Salomaki said about playing in the NHL. “You want to play there. No one [here] wants to be here all the time.”
Until Salomaki gets told by Admirals head coach Dean Evason that he has been recalled, he is not going to think about it too much and just take everything in stride.
“I don’t think [about] it too much. I just do my best every day here. It’s not my job to think about it. I don’t do the additions, I just play.
“We have a great group again with a lot of great players. We are going to do well. It’s going to be a good season.”
Colin Fitts is a Nashville Predators staff writer and is a credentialed media member of the Chicago Wolves. From Nashville, Tennessee, Colin majors in journalism and public relations at Columbia College Chicago. Follow him on Twitter, @FittsTHW. Email: 22fitts [at] gmail [dot] com.