OK, for the first time in a while, I’m gonna make changes more than a + or -.
One note on Howard, just to emphasize how good he has been: remove the two games with Toronto and Montreal—and Montreal was a team problem in which he was more just a victim—and his numbers are right up there with the best in the league. If you’re gonna play badly as a goalie, do it all in two games, and then forget about them, I say. That’s what he has done. He’s the main reason we are in as good a position as we are.
Spot on with your defense grades. No changes.
Nyquist should not be in the C’s. A month ago, he would have probably been a D+/C- player. But you can’t give a guy whose primary role is scoring a C if he is leading the team in goals, which he is now. He is more than doubling his goal pace from last year (which was DISMAL!). I feel ya on his defensive liabilities. He is NOT an A player. He is a B, though.
AA is a B-. Take into consideration that this is kinda his sophomore season. And although his goals per game is down from last year (it HAD TO come down), he usually gets a QSC or two per game. Good on the kill. I think Blash is holding him back, as you noted.
Tatar: I think his overinflated contract is slanting your view. I don’t think he has been as bad as a D. Low C. Still just below last year’s goal pace. He’s streaky as we know, and always seemingly opposite Nyquist’s streaks, which means he’s slowed down while Gus is hot. Frustrating, but better than a D-. C-. D+ at the lowest. He is NOT earning what he is being paid to do, but not as horrible as you paint.
I might also up Glendening to a B. 7 goals at midseason? And it’s not as if the rest of his game has gone to pot. For what his role is, he is having his best year ever. He has a limited and defined role, but he is playing it AND scoring more than he ever has before.
Can’t agree more on Blash. “The Process” seems to be misusing players. We need a coach that is able to release some of these guys and let them do what they do well.
Moving forward: Sell what we can, make good picks of players we need. Rasmussen was solid, but not what we needed most. Can’t afford to take our eyes off of filling the positions where we desperately lack in talent. New coach that can give our young players inspiration for individual achievement as we rebuild, because the days will be dark here for a while. As we lose more, we will need inspiration to know that things are coming along. Let ‘em go! Show us what they can do. Develop the chemistry. Define the roles. And hopefully in 2-3 seasons, our drafted D talent will be NHL-ready. Until then, it’s gonna get worse before it gets better.
Yeah Glendening has stepped up his game, he brings it defensively and his offense is improved so I can see going with a B, Gus leads the team in scoring but is so dang streaky, maybe a B or B minus is apropos but I am not sure. Tats is on pace for his lowest point total as a pro and is a minus 10 to boot, I absolutely feel I am fair with his ranking however.
Now on to Athanasiou.
First off, I love the kid and see a bright future as a middle six forward and I agree that he is being misused by Blash, 18 minutes one night 10 the next, top line top power play followed by bottom line penalty kill the next. I get it that his skill set can be used in all situations but find a role and let him grow, let him have a month with Zetterberg or a month with Larkin and see what he can do.
The reason I rank him so low however is after holding out to start the year here is his breakdown:
First 11 games: 5 goals 8 points, plus 1: played like a man on a mission.
Next 15 games 0 goals 4 assist and a minus 11: Played like a man trying to get sent to the AHL. He deserved to be dropped to the bottom six.
Last five games 4 goals 5 points plus 2 seems to have found his legs.
He gets a breakaway a game but he needs to bury more of them IMHO. He has speed like few others but he needs to finish. His passing skill is okay, average at best which is fine for a winger, his shooting is above average and very good for a middle six forward. He just needs to work on consistency.
Now it I possible that Blashill got a memo from on high, during his first 26 games AA played over 19 minutes a measly two times, he has been over that for each of the last five games. I am hoping it continues coming out of the bye. He seems to play much better with ice time. Some players cannot handle it, he appears to be able to. Here is his stat line in games in which he appears in less than 14 minutes versus 18 minutes or more:
LESS THAN 14 MINUTES
10 games 1 goal 2 assists minus 6.
MORE THAN 18 MINUTES
8 games 7 goals 3 assists plus 4
BETWEEN 14:01 AND 17:59 MINUTES
13 games 1 goal 3 assists minus 8
Clearly the man thrives on ice time. The fact that he has appeared in 31 games and only broke 18 minutes of ice time in a quarter of them is criminal. I think after writing this and studying the breakdown a bit more I can see the case for moving his ranking up as it clearly reinforces that a lot of his struggles are due to poorly being used. The fact that he has 10 point in the 8 games that he gets quality ice time versus 7 points in the 23 games that he is being held back says a lot about how badly Blash is doing. I could probably do the same with Mantha and see the same pattern. Let those two loose, give them 20 minutes a night and time on the top power play and a lot would click.
Okay, what the Hell. Quickie one for Mantha.
OVER 19 MINUTES
games 9 goals 5 assists 6 minus 5
UNDER 19 MINUTES
games 30 goals 9 assists 8 even
so 11 points in 9 games but a minus 5 with good ice time so defensively he is exposed a bit defensively if overused, but he only has 17 points in 30 games with less ice time.
Both are better than a point a game player when used right.