Well it really didn’t go as planned. I expected to write at least one entry a week. I mean its only writing. Well life got in the way and that didn’t happen. I also expected to have a much more positive spin on things in Isles land. Well, that didn’t happen either. Nor did a playoff appearance happen for the Isles. So this will be my year end grades for the players. My format will be a little different than most, but I believe you will all get the point.
Forwards: Overall as a group they are pushing a C- except for a few bright spots.
John Tavares, Kyle Okposo: A Kyle came into his own as a true power forward and JT was JT, which is one of the top 5 players in the game. Come on Garth, get these guys a winger.
Matt Moulson: B- Fan favorite who started to show his warts towards the end of his tenure here. I’d welcome him back but not for the top line.
Thomas Vanek: B- He is like the little girl with the curls. When he is into it he is awesome other times looks disinterested. I would love him back for the top line but only on a much shorter deal than he told Gath to shove.
Anders Lee: B Shows what could be, what maybe and, as far as I am concerned, what should be. If Vanek doesn’t come back or Garth doesn’t score big via trade or free agency (James Neal or Evander Kane) let this kid get first shot.
Frans Nielson: B Had a career year. He was great offensively, but is that what we want from him? He is supposed to be a PK specialist and the PK was last in the league. So that part was a fail, but overall he had a great season. Even though I love him as a player and he has been a great Islander, his trade value has never been higher.
Brock Nelson: A- This kid is the real deal and is only getting better. He reminds me of a modern day John Tonelli but with more skill. If Frans stays, put Brock on Strome’s wing with Bailey and let them fly. If Frans goes, put him back to center and you have the best #3 center in the league. The sky is the limit for this kid.
Ryan Strome: B What we saw of this kid I really like. Great hockey IQ and amazing vision. Look what he did for Martin and McDonald. Imagine what he could do for Bailey, Grabner, Lee and the like.
Cal Clutterbuck: C- Yes he showed flashes but I don’t feel he was ever comfortable here last year. Yeah, he hits everything in sight, but takes himself out of the play to do so way too often. Looks good on the PK. Hope to see him on it more. Keep him on the 3rd line; he will be very productive and have a bounce back year this year.
Micheal Grabner: D- Paging the spirit of OLEG KAVASHA. Now that is a name you never want to be associated with. This guy is a giant Enigma. “He is great on the PK.” It finished last in the league, so how good is he? Is he the 30 goal scorer we saw 2 years ago, who was a threat every time on the ice, or is he the stiff we got this year? His speed is amazing but it’s useless if you can’t harness it. I feel we have seen the best of Grabs. I hope not.
Josh Bailey: D- Sorry Claire, he is one of my favorites also, but he simply was just not good enough this year. He is another OLEG KAVASHA wanna be. He has high end skill, great vision, good speed and a great shot, but it just hasn’t clicked. If he scored 20 goals by March 1st this past season the whole season is different. I hope he has a come to Jesus moment this year like KO did this past year or its bye bye MR BAILEY.
Matt Martin, Colin McDonald, Casey Czikas: F Horrible display of hockey this year boys. You were the worst fourth line in hockey and probably would have been in the AHL as well. Casey forgot his heart this year. Colin forgot his grit, sandpaper and hands this year. As for Martin, the reason he leads the league in hits is because he is a step or two slow and is always chasing the puck. 2012-13 these guys were the main reason they made the playoffs and pissed Pittsburg off so much. Please improve; you guys are my favs.
Eric Boulton: B What more can you say? He knows when to fight. He never loses a fight. He isn’t a detriment when he is on the ice. Great teammate. Great interview. Glad he’s around another year.
Mike Halmo, John Pearson, Johan Sundstrome: B Showed the bottom 6 that there isn’t much wiggle room; they can be replaced in a heartbeat. I like all 3 of these guys’ games. Especially Pearson: he is a Swede who plays like a Finn. Keep pressing boys, see ya soon.
Justin Johnson, Brett Galant: A Keep up the hard work boys, glad to see Bridgeport won’t get messed with this year. Great protection for all the young kids and great teachers of how to handle themselves on and off the ice. Plus JJ: it was great to see a USELESS GOON get his A** handed to him in Buffalo.
Defense as a whole: C-
Thomas Hickey: D Those of you who know me know that I am not a big fan of this mighty mite. He is a small d-man that doesn’t score, doesn’t run the power play, isn’t physical, isn’t overly quick. “But he was a plus player”- the most overrated stat in hockey. It means he was on the ice when JT and the boys where usually on. When he isn’t passing the puck to an opposing player he was getting pushed off the puck or just made to be invisable. He is the classic case of an early bloomer. He was great as a 17 year old but never developed further. We see why he was picked up off the scrap heap. He has 1 year left on his contract. I hope he isn’t more than a 3rd pairing d-man moving forward
Calvin deHann: A- We saw why the Isles have had such patience for this guy. He’s the real deal. We see why he was a high first round draft pick. Good hockey IQ. Great passes out of the zone. Not afraid of the physicallity. Definately a building block for the future.
Matt Donovan: C- Could have been much worse based on his first stint with the team. But he went back to Bridgeport, gathered his head and came back looking like an NHL d-man. His offensive aggresivness is nice to see; he is learning the defensive end better. I like his game ansd will be a very useful part in the future, whether it is on the ice here or as a chip
Radek Martinek: INC This has the best job in hockey, practice with the team, travel to great cities, eat off the pre game buffet and watch the game from the press box. And on top of that, he make 3/4’s of a million. Love this guy. Helped the team when needed, but the sun has set on him.
Lubomir Visnovsky: INC His injury was the biggest reason for the Isles disappointment this year. I know JT is great, but Lubo proved to be the single most important person on this team. His leadership both on and off the ice was missed. His production on the score sheet was greatly missed. If Lubo is healthy in 2014-15 the Isles year will be much better.
Brain Strait: INC Was unable to provide much due to injuries, but he’s a steady 3rd pairing defensive d-man who can add a little on Offense. There’s always next season.
Travis Hamonic: C- Really didn’t have the year we all expected and needed. Lost the “Hammer” aspect of his game for most of the year. 2 upper body injuries slowed him this year. He is a heart and soul guy who showed lots of heart but not much soul this year. He needs a big bounce back year for 2014-15 to be a good one.
Andrew MacDonald: C- A classic #3 dman that was playing #1 for the Isles. He wanted to get paid as a #1 d man. Garth said no. Holmgrin said yes. Got got draft picks back and now Amac and his horrible cap hit are Philly”s issue.
Matt Carkner: D on his play A+ on him being a great human being and teammate. Was very happy he wore a letter at the end of the year. He was a liability when on the ice this year, but that had alot to do with the fact that he was trying to cover for many other problems going on. I love this guy. He can play on my team any day of the week, but he wasn’t very good this year.
Aaron Ness: D Looked very over matched regularly up here. I love his game, but he might be an AHL lifer.
Kevin Czuczman: C Filled in admirably. He can play at this level, but needs some heavy seasoning down in Bridgeport. Thompson will help him. Has a very bright future.
Scott Mayfield: INC See Czuczman. Needs about 20 pounds. Has a great nasty streak and is rough and tough. Really like his future
Evgeni Nabokov: C Not his best year, but playing behind that defense, I think he did pretty well. His injuries really affected not only him but the entire team. Your best defender needs to be your goalie and he simply wasn’t. His best performances were often in his chats with Stan.
Kevin Poulin: D- Had the chance to secure his spot and be the MAN and he totally dropped the ball. He is a cocky kid who simply came off as an arrogant punk after his horrible performances. I think he may have worked his way out of the organization, but that all depends on the ANDERS situation that is currently unfolding.
Anders Nilsson: C- Came on strong in the latter part of the season, that’s why he got a C- not a D- or F. He’s huge, has a ton of talent and I wish they would fuse his knees together so he could not drop down to them all the time. How in the world does a 6’6 goalie give up 80% of his goals against over his shoulders? He hasn’t played a lot of hockey in the last few years, but you can see the potential. I for one hope he takes the organization’s advice and spends a year at Bridgeport.