The 2nd Quarter hasn’t been all that kind for the Binghamton Devils in the player movement category as a handful of regulars were either called up or was out on injury. G Eddie Lack, G Mackenzie Blackwood, F Eric Tangradi, and F John Quenneville to name a few as the BDevils ended up with a 7-12-0-0 record after the second set of 19 games played and overall are 15-20-3-0.
After 38 games, the team is 9-9-1-0 on home ice and have struggled on the road going 6-11-2-0 while in last place in the weak North Division. Despite the record, Binghamton remains in the hunt for a playoff berth currently six points out in the Eastern Conference.
Blackwood had the best overall grades (90.1) while F Blake Speers (66.8) encountered the worst. Read on and find out why in this edition of the BDevils’ Grades Reports featuring The Panel!
There are ten members of ‘The Panel’ including myself, and in no particular order they are the following; @AliciaS20, @KeithAHopkins, @enker1700, @RogieVachon30, @crazybazookajoe, @EmilyRose474, @ChrisWasselDFS, @DuncanMRF, @swislosky and @Ski931.
Voting by the committee and player evaluations were based on the following five factors; Adaptability, Potential, Consistency, Production, & Vision.
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. Grading is also included by each individual member in their evaluations.
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......65.99% - 66.99%
Defense - 77.7 / C+, 75.82 / C
The defense allowed an average of 29.53 shots per game putting them in 16th place while giving up 3.58 goals (136 total) on average for a ranking at 28th. The PK is 31st at 75.7%.
#2 Eric Gryba - 80.8 / B-, 73.8 / C
(7 gms 0g 1a) (18 gms 1g 1a) The kind of money that Eric Gryba is making for what little impact he has effectively made on the Binghamton blueline is a crime. He’s the kind of player you adore off ice. On ice, I see a tall beefy pylon of a man who is as slow to skate as he is to react on a defensive motion. The only trait he has to offer to the Devils is veteran leadership and even then, veteran defenseman John Ramage is doing MUCH better there. In conclusion, one thing about Grybes is crystal clear; whatever happens, he doesn’t care either way. @crazybazookajoe (83, 72)
#3 *Tariq Hammond - 73.2 / C, 72.6 / C-
(8 gms 0g, 0a) (8 gms 0g 1a) It’s no secret that Binghamton’s biggest flaw is its defense. Tariq Hammond is a curious case, for example. Hammond has been stepping in after being a regular benching early on. Often paired with veteran Eric Gryba, he’s stepping up to the plate recently with injuries on the defense. That said, the rookie comes off as more of a passenger more than I’d prefer, despite a respectable +6 in 16 games. Jeff has tasked me in Q3 to try solving this mystery, and I really hope the kid either finds his groove or is sent to Glens Falls after the holiday. @crazybazookajoe (72, 74)
#5 *Colby Sissons - 78.5 / C+, 71.7 / C-
(9 gms 0g, 2a) (14 gms 0g, 5a) Colby Sissons more than doubled his disappointing first quarter production, netting 5 points (all assists) in an additional 14 games. What we’ve seen aside from the points has been both good and bad, which is to be expected in first year pros. Sisson’s biggest asset is his offensive vision, and as further changes to the Binghamton lineup are made throughout the season, I’d like to get a better look at him in a prominent power play role. One of his biggest areas to improve upon in the back half of the season is consistency, as we have seen many examples of the higher pace of play forcing blunders from the young defenseman. In order to make the biggest use of his vision he needs to become more consistent in his attention and decision making. I have been encouraged by his play in the second quarter, and I think that over the course of the season we will see him continue to make strides as an offensive defenseman at the pro level. @DuncanMRF (80, 75)
#6 Colton White - 82.1 / B-, 75 / C
(17 gms 2g 3a) (19 gms 3g 7a) Slowly showing signs of improvement but like any defenseman, it’s a ongoing progress of work. While he has shown his offensive touch in certain situations, his defensiveness capabilities is rather weak. Although worth noting he played in all 19 games in the quarter. @Ski931 (84, 73)
#7 Brian Strait - 69.5 / D+, Inc
(10 gms, 0g 0a) (...)
#8 Josh Jacobs - 85.7 / B, 83.7 / B
(18 gms 1g 3a) (18 gms 2g 3a) Josh has taken a slight step back in the 2nd quarter as he is net -6. It does not seem to be due to fatigue or the like, but rather just a defensive slump. I think he will be just fine going forward and will continue on as our top defenseman. On a quick side note, he did add another clutch goal at an important point in a game to help them beat Providence on December 21. @enker1700 (90, 88)
#32 Michael Kapla - 68.1 / D+, 69.4 / D+
(19 gms 0g 7a) (16 gms 0g 6a) Kapla does not seem to be improving defensively and continues to make mistakes on basic defensive plays. At times, I wonder if he would not do better as a forward as he is 3rd on the team in assists with 13 so far this season. Kapla was on a four-game point streak, getting assists in each of the four games between Christmas & New Year’s night. While I recognize his contributions offensively, Kapla has to do better defensively to help out the team. @AliciaS20 (70, 65)
#55 John Ramage - 84.1 / B, 84.6 / B
(19 gms 2g 3a) (17 gms 4g 5a) John was our best defenseman this quarter. He continues to be the steadying veteran influence on this otherwise very young defensive core. He and Jacobs are the 2 best “shut down” defenseman we have, along with Colton White, who is still coming into his own and is behind Jacobs development-wise. I’m looking for more of the same in the second half, in that he continues to be the veteran anchor of our defensive group. Had a rough night NYE against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. @enker1700 (88, 88)
Offense - 79.3 / C+, 79.94 / C+
BDevils’ PP is 28th in the 2nd Quarter at 14.1%, while the offense scored at an average of 2.69 per game (102) and in 26th position. Shots placed the club down in the 27th slot at an average of 27.84 per outing.
#9 *Michael McLeod - 84.8 / B , 89.3 / B+
(18 gms 3g 5a) (17 gms 2g 11a) McLeod has found his niche in the BDevils, and I’m happy to report it’s a good one. Riding the new wave of confidence he gained by the end of Q1, Mike has been keeping pace with 2G and 11A in 17GP this quarter. Not only that, he’s visibly adjusted to the minor-pro team-building mindset of growing to get better. You could almost call him the de facto captain of the rookies with his “eff-yeah” energy, in game. He’s making full use of his time in the AHL now that the fog has lifted. It’s awesome to see him improving. @crazybazookajoe (85, 91)
#10 *Ryan Schmelzer - 80.3 / B-, 82.5 / B-
(12 gms 2g 3a) (16 gms 4g 0a) A reliable yet steady addition that continues to play well with adequate speed and net presence. It’s amazing he’s on an AHL contract that has panned out well so far. You’ll find his place in the line-up in the top six for the most part playing either at center while sharing duties on the wing. Nice little pick-up by NJ. @Ski931 (86, 82)
#13 Brandon Baddock - 75.2 / C, 71.8 / C-
(12 gms 1g 1a) (17 gms 0g 1a) Baddock still garners penalty minutes but any offense has been remote over the last quarter, to say the least. He does little things well enough. However, this cements him into a fourth line / extra type of role with Binghamton. Baddock still averages about three penalty minutes a night while the left winger continues to show just enough to be a serviceable AHL player and that is his ceiling so far at this juncture. @ChrisWasselDFS (70, 70)
#15 Nick Saracino - Inc
(5 gms 0g 0a)
#17 John Quenneville - 89 / B+, 88.9 / B+
(12 gms 4g 6a) (7 gms 5g 4a) Quenneville made strides with Binghamton – 19 points in 19 games. He was sent down, produced around three shots a game, and a point a contest. New Jersey then called him back up. With the big club, Quenneville has not registered a point. He exclusively plays a fourth line role while getting top minutes with Binghamton. One wonders at what point does New Jersey send Quenneville back down. This is so he can work on the developmental disconnect between the AHL and NHL. NHL caliber qualities exist but not on a consistent enough basis. @ChrisWasselDFS (79, 92)
#18 Blake Speers - 75.4 / C, 66.8 / D
(15 gms 1g 0a) (17 gms 1g 2a) Another quarter has passed, another poor showing from Speers. Still seeing fourth line minutes & PK duty, so nothing to report offensively (3 points this quarter versus 1 in Q1). Played mostly center this quarter however I don’t have access to faceoff percentages, but he seems to struggle at the dot. His speed is rarely on display, as whenever he is on the ice, the other team seemingly has the puck. I just don’t see any future role with him in NJ. If (BDevils’ GM) Tom Fitzgerald is going to make an AHL deal to help shake things up at this level, I would say Speers would be a candidate to go. Hate to write off a young guy still on his ELC (especially a first rounder), but a fresh start somewhere else may be the best thing for him. @RogieVachon30 (68, 71)
#19 Blake Pietila - 71.5 / C-, 77.2 / C+
(18 gms 5g 5a) (16 gms 7g 5a) At the beginning of the year Blake had yet to find a niche on this team. He has played wing on all four lines at times this year. Recently he has seen more power play time and he is scoring on the power play at a good clip. Recently was just called up to Jersey. @Ski931 (72) @KeithAHopkins (77)
#21 Kevin Rooney - 83.2 / B, 84.9 / B
(13 gms 0g 3a) (19 gms 1g 13a) Rooney has stepped up offensively & has shown that he is the right choice to wear the C. He has 13 assists this quarter with 4 multi-point games in the month of December alone! On 12/21, Rooney scored his first goal of the season on the powerplay and ended the night with 1 goal, 1 assist, and 2nd Star of the Game. After that, he was asked about leading the locker-room since becoming Captain and responded that he “set the standard, set the bar high”. Rooney does that every game with his work ethic and game-play. In the 2nd half of the season, I’d like to see him lead a more effective BingDevils Special Teams. @AliciaS20 (85, 88)
#22 *Egor Sharangovich - 79.6 / C+, 81.9 / B-
(15 gms 2g 3a) (18 gms 4g 1a) Sharangovich has continued his slow (but steady) adjustment to North American ice. Recent call-ups have given him the opportunity to play up the lineup, including brief stints on the first line. While his production hasn’t exploded at these opportunities, he has shown some areas of promise. Continued improvements to his physical game, adherence to the system on the smaller NA ice, and presence in the dirty areas will hopefully reap rewards in the back half of the season. The 20 year-old is yet another lukewarm performer on this Binghamton team when it comes to stats, but I believe he has the tools to become a better performer in the AHL in the coming years, and a depth role in the NHL beyond that. Patience will be important when evaluating prospects like Sharangovich in moving forward. @DuncanMRF (82, 88)
#24 Brian Ward - 72.4 / C-
(9 gms, 0g 1a) Has seen limited ice time as the team continues to get healthy so his role as a fill-in is something to be desired. Not much to report other than he brings some experience from the ECHL level. @Ski931 (73)
#25 Nick Lappin - 83.3 / B, 80.9 / B-
(19 gms 9g 2a) (12 gms 1g 3a) Nick Lappen has updated stats 10g 5a for 15 points and a +/- of -15 not good. Nick is in a very bad cold spell for the month of December as he has 2g 4a for 6 points. It did not help that he missed 6 games with a injury but with his caliper, he will catch fire once again I’m hoping. @swislosky (82, 79)
#26 Eric Tangradi - 81.5 / B-, 84 / B
(9 gms 2g 5a) (5 gms 2g 2a) Eric has had a down quarter not because he hasn’t been productive, but because he has missed legitimate time with both injuries and a recent suspension. He will be the key on the offensive end of the ice in us making a run at a possible playoff birth. I’m looking for him to play a prominent role in the second have of the season, both offensively and in a leadership role. @enker1700 (82, 84)
#27 *Marian Studenic - 86.2 / B, 85.6 / B
(18 gms 7g 5a) (12 gms 2g 6a) Missed half this quarter due to injury, thus the corresponding drop in production (2 Gs this quarter versus 7 in Q1). Even in his shortened quarter, he continued to be reliable defensively and stands at a +1. With the roster turnover due to injuries at both the NHL & AHL levels, I’d like to see how he does on the top line, as well as get more PP time. A line of McLeod/Studenic/Bastian is something I’d like to see. 3rd quarter is always when the young guys tend to tail off during the grind of the season, will be interesting to see how he responds, especially if his ice time increases. @RogieVachon30 (91, 82)
#28 Brandon Gignac - 77.3 / C+, 82.5 / B-
(15 gms 2g 4a) (18 gms 4g 8a) There’s good and bad to be said about Brandon Gignac, who has had me teetering since last season. On the one hand, he has started to come into his own. Three of the goals were good for his first pro hat trick on Dec 21st. And as I assumed, his strength lies as a playmaker. The problem I find though is that he’s still a tad invisible and is still easily thrown off offensive rushes due to his size. Brandon is on track to have a successful career in the AHL but not in the majors. @crazybazookajoe (77, 80)
#39 Kurtis Gabriel - 73.1 / C, 69.4 / D+
(11 gms 1g 2a) (16 gms 1g 2a) Still unsure of this guy’s purpose. Seems like just a filler to take places of injured or called up players. He has stepped up his physical play this quarter which is something this team desperately needs. @KeithAHopkins (73, 69)
#42 Nathan Bastian - 73.1 / C, 81 / B-
(18 gms 4g 1a) (19 gms 4g 3a) Nate has updated stats 8g 4a for 12 points in the month of December. He was on fire with his scoring touch with 5g 3a for 8 points. Also, been more physical and his forchecking has been very good as I see him moving up to the second line pretty soon. @swislosky (74, 84)
Emily’s Goalie Clinic
Coming off the first quarter, I can’t say my vision for the goaltending situation in Binghamton has exactly come to fruition. With Eddie Lack being injured and out for the season and Mackenzie Blackwood being called up to NJ for the foreseeable future, the current reality is a bit more up in the air. That being said, I found the goaltending to be a major positive in the second quarter.
Goalies - 82.7 / B-, 86.9 / B
Looking ahead to the third quarter with Cam Johnson as our only solid goaltender is a bit concerning. It will be interesting to see what goes on with netminders in Binghamton over the next several weeks.
#29 Mackenzie Blackwood - 85.2 / B, 90.1 / A-
(15 gms 6-7-1-1, 2.69 GAA 0.911 SV%) Honestly, I don’t even know where to begin with the skill he has been able to demonstrate. As mentioned in the first quarter report, he has come leaps and bounds from where he was at the beginning of last season. He continues to display confidence and steadiness in the net that very few players his age demonstrate. Regardless of the situation in front of him, he’s displayed great skill that’s only been further emphasized in his time with New Jersey in recent weeks. With continued playing time and development, he’ll only continue to flourish. I have a feeling we won’t be seeing him in Binghamton any time soon. @EmilyRose474 (86, 89)
#31 Eddie Lack - 80.3 / B-, Inc
(6 gms 2-3-1-0, 4.10 GAA 0.863 SV%) Lack’s hip injury has been disappointing, to say the least. However, I didn’t want to overlook him completely as I do believe he was still a force within the team prior to his season-ending surgery. At many of the games and showing his support via Twitter, the netminder seems to have taken his role as a mentor for the younger goalies seriously. @EmilyRose474 (82, Inc)
#33 Cam Johnson - 83.7 / B
(14 gms, 6-8-0-1, 3.91 GAA 0.866 SV%) Cam Johnson has done an incredible job stepping into a starting role that was nowhere near his when the season began. With the misfortune of other goalies in the organization came a golden opportunity for the young netminder. Since taking over as the starter, he’s been saddled with a heavy workload. In my opinion, he’s holding his own and showing great promise. Of note, he tends to get beat up high often. In addition, with the weaker defense the BDevils carry, he has to be careful about how often he’s giving up rebounds as they have come back to bite him as well. With the current opportunity to get the next several games under his belt, he will continue to strengthen his game. @EmilyRose474 (82, 85)
Coach’s Corner with Dave
A quarter of ups & downs for the coaching staff.
Coaching Staff - 82.6 / B-, 79 / C+
Mark Dennehy, Sergei Brylin & Ryan Parent
The record is slightly less this quarter (7-12-0 versus 8-8-3), but given the injuries, and the loss of the two goalies pegged for being here for possibly the remainder of the year, they’ve kept the ship afloat. That’s a plus.
Fortunately, we are in the league’s weakest division, and sit only 6 points out of the last playoff spot currently and 13 points out of first.
On the negative side, the special teams continue to struggle. Heading into last weekend, the team was 28th on the PP and dead last (31st) on the PK. The PP continues to struggle with its entries. Although the drop pass method is still the “play” of choice, this quarter showed more of the players taking what is given them as far as entries go. Faceoffs continue to be a problem, and losing that initial PP faceoff often leads us to restart 200 feet away.
On New Year’s Eve, the team had a 5 minute major handed to it in the third down two goals. The first seven entries were unsuccessful resulting in no possession time and only 1 shot during this crucial major. With the injuries, the coaches have had to play guys who aren’t normally on PP units. Whether that is causing difficulties with entries I’m not sure (hope not).
PK continues to suffer from not blocking shooting lanes or coverage (lack of) in front of the net. I know strategies have change(d) over my 40 years watching this league, but I can’t understand how the goalie is supposed to fend for himself with an opponent untouched at the top of his crease. Most goals against are either deflection or whacked in rebounds.
Is discipline an issue or lack of talent?
As of this writing, we are the most penalized team in the league. In this era of reduced physical play, it’s the minors that are killing us. The team is spending almost 10 minutes per game shorthanded. The team is not overly talented, so the staff must get more out of what they have.
Toronto just swung an AHL deal to address a need (G Michael Hutchinson), it would be nice if Tom Fitzgerald was able to do the same. The team needs to start banking points now, as they only have 6 home games in March/April combined. @RogieVachon30 (84, 79)
Thanks for reading and please leave your thoughts in the section below so we can all share!
* = Rookie status
Inc = Incomplete