We’re already at the half-way mark of the 2017-’18 inaugural season of Binghamton Devils’ hockey and the Second Quarter Grades report is ready to go and are furbished with the help from votes provided from The Panel, including player evaluations. The BDevils finished the quarter at 4-11-2-2, with an overall record of 11-20-5-2 which puts the club in last place in the AHL.
As we find some answers in what went wrong, there were some player movements within the organization to help correct the matter involving Binghamton, as goaltender Scott Wedgewood was dealt away for a fifth round pick from the Arizona Coyotes, forward Joe Blandisi was involved in a deal in acquiring defenseman Sami Vatanen, Ryan Kujawinski was sent to Arizona for Michael Latta and goaltender Eddie Lack was acquired for defenseman Dalton Prout.
Let’s get to it, shall we?
With each quarter results, there are eight members within ‘The Panel’ including myself in no particular order; @AliciaS20, @KeithAHopkins, @enker1700, @Bing_da_Bling, @RogieVachon30, @crazybazookajoe, @EmilyRose474 and myself @Ski931.
Grades are calculated as a group and divided by the sum of its members. Season statistics will be shown collectively for each player for an ongoing comparison throughout the season. Individual votes are also shown from each member from ‘The Panel’ of their player evaluations. A 10 game minimum applies for an individual player for a grade per quarter, excluding goaltending.
A+....96% - 100%
A......93% - 95.99%
A-.....90% - 92.99%
B+....87% - 89.99%
B......83% - 86.99%
B-.....80% - 82.99%
C+....77% - 79.99%
C......73% - 76.99%
C-.....70% - 72.99%
D+....67% - 69.99%
D......60% - 66.99%
F.......0% - 59.99%
Defense - 80.28 / B-, 76.01 / C
We begin with the defense, as they collectively have allowed an average of 28.79 shots per game putting them in 10th place down from 8th in the first quarter, but giving up 3.45 goals on average for a ranking of 27th, down three spots. The PK is up one notch from 17th to 16th place at 82.4%.
#5 Dylan Olsen - Inc.
(7gms, 0g 1a)
#6 *Colton White - Inc., 70.12 / C-
(28 gms, 2g 3a) Kid’s had a slow start, but I’m always happy to see a defenseman jump into the rush. In December, he scored 2 goals in one game and I thought this was it - we were going to see him break out offensively, but that has not been the case, so far. Defensively, he’s not wowing me. He isn’t that physical. I’d like to see more; breaking up plays, slowing the attack, making quicker decisions. @Bing_da_Bling (- ,70)
#7 Brian Strait - 84 / B, 80.87 / B-
(32 gms, 2g 4a) Still the best stay-at-home D-man we have. Doesn’t put up points, 1G 2A this quarter, but he brings that much needed physical presence on a team with too many undersized players. His lack of speed and offensive ability may be his flaws but without him, this team would be lost on the back end. @KeithAHopkins (85, 80)
#8 Josh Jacobs - 86 / B, 82 / B-
(36 gms, 1g 13a) The kid continues to show he has a bright future. His first pair pairing with Brian Strait is completely warranted; as he is probably the second best defensive defenseman on the team (Strait) and is also probably the second best offensive defenseman on he squad (MacDonald) as well. If Jacobs continues to develop, he has a very bright future with the NJ organization and has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise dark season. @enker1700 (90, 88)
#23 Jacob MacDonald - 85.33 / B, 87.87 / B+
(37 gms, 12g 18a) One of two players selected to represent the All-Star Event as he’s been the team’s best offensive weapon while quarterbacking the power play. Still needs to work harder on the defensive end to be a complete player with an offensive upside. On the right track though, and should improve the more he plays. @Ski931 (82, 83)
#28 *Yaroslav Dyblenko - 74.66 / C, 68.25 / D+
(33 gms, 1g 5a) It’s going to be a long project for the Russian in moving forward with not the greatest results so far including the second quarter, although I’m not seeing it. Weak. @Ski931 (79, 69)
#32 *Michael Kapla - 70.38 / C-, 67.75 / D+
(27 gms, 1g 6a) Kapla has improved this quarter going by the eye test. He seems more confident in his game play and with recent injuries he is seeing increased ice time. He does still make rookie mistakes but this is his rookie season so I have no problem forgiving some of them. I have been impressed with his passing most recently and this has helped him pick up some assists. I’m not sure yet if he will be a Top 4 defenseman in the AHL but with his recent improvements, I’ll be watching to see how he continues to grow. @AliciaS20 (73, 70)
#50 Viktor Loov - 81.33 / B-, 75.25 / C
(28 gms, 4g 11a) Loov was a much improved player in the second quarter before it was derailed by injury. I would expect his improvement to continue on through out the season and for Loov to be a steady fixture on either the 2nd pairing with MacDonald or on the 3rd pairing with Dyblenko. @enker1700 (80, 72)
Offense - 76.94 / C, 76.32 / C
The offense has struggled mightily beginning with the PP, currently ranked 15th at 16.9%, down from 8th place in the first quarter, while goals for are 2.53 per game and in 29th place, also down from 22nd while shots for at 27.05 per average and up two places to 28th.
#9 Joseph Blandisi - 82.33 / B-, TRADED
#10 *Austin Cangelosi - 72.66 / C-, Inc.
(22 gms, 1g 3a) Out with an injury with no time table for his return. @Bing_da_Bling (73, -)
#11 * Ryan Penny - Inc.
(3gms 0g 0a)
#12 Tim Kennedy - Inc., 80.5 / B-
(28 gms, 1g 18a) This one is tough, guy has some great games showing hustle and that vision we all expected, however the number of off games greatly exceeds the games where that drive is noticed. Over 17 games in the second quarter Tim racked up 14 assists. Still looking for the first goal of the season. Still in his role of 1C. @KeithAHopkins (-, 84)
#13 Brandon Baddock - 72.22 / C-, 70.70 / C-
(25 gms, 3g 3a) Like the rest of the team, Baddock continues to struggle but he is one of the leaders on the ice with his grit and toughness on occasions. Fringe player at best. Drop the gloves, eh? @Ski931 (71, 70)
#15 Jan Mandat - 70.55 / C-, 73.74 / C
(31 gms, 0g 3a) I wasn’t a big fan after the first quarter, but I suddenly found myself rooting for him, as Mandat has shown great improvements in his development stage despite his lack of talent at times. One of the hardest working players on the team. @Ski931 (69, 79)
#17 John Quenneville - Inc., 87.87 / B+
(26 gms, 10g 10a) Missed a bunch of games in the first quarter but has come back with a vengeance, as he’s been fun to watch as of late. Good read on the ice and an offensive prowess around the net, with a very quick shot from all angles. Just a delight to watch. @Ski931 (-, 86)
#18 *Blake Speers - 77.11 / C+, 71.12 / C-
(32 gms, 4g 4a) The mystery continues as he is still being employed as a PKer/spare part. Saw a little time on a higher line due to injuries, but unfortunately was injured himself and has missed the last couple weeks. @RogieVachon30 (77, 75)
#19 Blake Pietila - 83.55 / B, 73.37 / C
(35 gms, 6g 4a) I apologize for giving him the Kiss of Death. Since my 20 goal prediction, I think he scored once this quarter. He tended to disappear at times this quarter. Most of it, again, I pin on Kowalsky. He doesn’t use him on the 2nd PP unit, and with the injuries is usually stuck with at least one ECHL line mate. @RogieVachon30 (84, 70)
#20 Terrence Wallin - Inc.
(4gms, 0g 0a)
#21 Kevin Rooney - 71.11 / C-, 76.75 / C
(38 gms, 7g 9a) Rooney is currently 2nd in the AHL with short-handed goals as he continues to prove himself on the penalty kill. He is consistently wearing an A and his leadership is visible on the ice by his hard work every single night on the ice. In Q2 he continued with similar point production to Q1 - Rooney will never be a high-point player but he is consistent in his hard-work, leadership, and ability to play against tough opponents. I would not mind seeing him wear a C in the future, he has quickly become one of my favorite players. @AliciaS20 (73, 75)
#22 *Brandon Gignac - 76.55 / C, inc.
(21 gms, 2g 1a) Out for the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. @crazybazookajoe (82, -)
#25 Nick Lappin - 90.88 / A-, 83.37 / B
(32 gms, 14g 9a) Well, it was fun while it lasted. Nick went from the man to beat on the BDevils to...well...just your average dependable forward. It’s not a bad thing; he’s still one of the best players on the team. And it’s worth noting he was the first BDevil to earn a call up to the N this season. It seemed the team rode a temporary high when he came back down. He’s not as productive as he was in Q1, but he’s still dependable. And that’s all that matters. @crazybazookajoe (88, 80)
#27 Ryan Kujawinski - Inc., TRADED
#27 Phil Lane - Released from PTO
#34 Kevin Morris - 68.75 / D+
(10 gms, 0g 2a) One of the several, if not more fill-ins on this team with after a slew of injuries and sickness. I wish I could add more to his elevation but find myself coming up short. @Ski931 (70)
#38 Bracken Kearns - 81.88 / B-, 77.62 / C+
(38 gms, 8g 15a) More of the same from this seasoned vet in the second quarter; Kearns has shown the ability to both lead and produce. He is a leading candidate to eventually be named the Captain, whenever that may be as well as arguably being the most valuable player on the offensive end. Whether he is playing on the first or third line, center or wing, Kearns is a steadying force on an otherwise shaky offensive end. @enker1700 (80, 85)
#42 *Nathan Bastian - 75.55 / C, 73.37 / C
(33 gms, 7g 5a) I like Bastian but has been hurt and out of the line-up recently. Good size and hustle for the 20 year-old in his first season at the pro level. I just need more of him. @Ski931 (72, 73)
#43 Ben Thomson - 69 / D+, 69.25 / D+
(35 gms, 3g 5a) An underwhelming quarter for the physical forward. Prone to taking irresponsible penalties and limited on the offensive front. A goal towards the end of the quarter showed a bit of a spark but, overall, he hasn’t impressed. @EmilyRose474 (70, 70)
#46 Michael Latta - 85.75 / B
(12 gms, 3g 4a) So this is what it’s like to have a GM who gives a hoot. Sending yet another player to ‘Zona but solely in the benefit of Binghamton and boy did it pay off. AHL vet Michael Latta arrived and brought a whole new atmo to the team. Started putting points on the board and leadership on the ice immediately. And it showed. And all it costed was Ryan Kujawinski. BDevils GM Tom Fitzgerald, welcome to Binghamton. @crazybazookajoe (85)
Goalies - 84.27 / B, 84.31 / B
With Wedgewood now gone, Blackwood was suppose to be the one to take over but it hasn’t worked out for the 21 year-old as he was sent down to Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL to work on his mechanics. Meanwhile, in stepped veteran Eddie Lack as he started the first four games before suffering an injury and missed the last two starts. Blackwood would be called back for one start last weekend for Binghamton but a pass has been granted with his movement between the two clubs.
#29 Mackenzie Blackwood - 83.55 / B, Inc.
(20 gms, 4-10-4-1, 3.75 GAA 0.870 SV%)
#31 Eddie Lack - 87.62 / B+
(4 gms, 1-2-1-0, 2.21 GAA 0.909 SV%) Has played in four striaght games before falling to an undisclosed injury that left him out of the line-up over the past weekend. Shows great puck handling skills and veteran poise in and around the net. Making 2.75 million while biding his time here before something happens, and soon. @Ski931 (86)
#41 Ken Appleby - 85 / B, 81 / B-
(16 gms, 5-8-2-1, 3.21 GAA 0.888 SV%) Has been fairly playing well in filling in for Blackwood before the arrival of Lack. Got a start last Friday and didn’t show any rust until the team in front of him fell apart in the third period. Don’t know what’s in store for the future as you cannot rule out him being sent down to the Thunder with the team having three active goaltenders. @Ski931 (85, 80)
Coaching Staff - 80.49 / B-, 70 / C-
Rick Kowalsky & Sergei Brylin
I turn to @RogieVachon30 and his opinions on the coaches in particular Kowalsky;
I have watched minor league hockey here since its inception (1973). I have seen very good coaches (Larry Pleau), and possibly the worst coach in hockey history (Doug McKay). But I have never been more frustrated with a coach than I am with Rick Kowalsky. In 2005, I had a partial plan with the Trenton Titans of the ECHL due to work commitments in that area. Kowalsky was Captain of that team, and led the team to the championship, scoring 10 goals in the playoffs. How he cannot believe/feel a Captain is necessary for an extremely young team is mind boggling to me.
We as fans realize the team is young, but his inability to make any changes to either line combinations or in game strategy causes this team to just make the same mistakes over and over again. The team has lost 8 games it has been leading after 2 periods, and we’re not even to midpoint of the year. Guy was Coach of the Year in the AHL 2 short years ago, you suddenly don’t grow stupid. His body language exudes he’d rather be anywhere else but Binghamton, NY., hopefully that’s not half the problem.
~ Dave from Vestal
Half way through the season and it looks to be a wash but hey, we have AHL hockey right? Fans think so as well, as the support for the team is quite good despite the overall record.
Look, it’s been rough. These recaps are tough. Fans are sick and tired of losing and we see our rivals geographically located around us doing exceptionally well not only this season, but others as well. No one likes losing.
All we ask for is an effort and we are getting that for the most part, most likely 2/3 of a game has been the norm lately. We need a 60 minute effort, not 20 or 40, but 60. If we don’t, we are going to lose. But I’d rather lose knowing my team put in the best they have while lacking in the talent department.
It was good to see some activity from the parent club, including Binghamton Devils’ GM Tom Fitzgerald, as that was seriously lacking in the past. Let’s all hope for the better in the second half.
I had a recent podcast interview with Mike and Anthony @Talking Devils concerning the current state of the Binghamton Devils at the midway point, and here it is for your enjoyment;
Thanks for reading! (And listening)
* = Rookie status
Inc. = Incomplete